Important a Car to Australia

Guide to importing a car into Australia

With the Australian dollar high and bargains to be found around the world, it's no surprise many Australian's are attempting to import a used car.

It seems that oil – not blood – runs in the veins of many Australians. While we have a wide range of cars available in Australia, there's also a number of us who love and appreciate commercially available European, American and Asian cars. This guide will show you how you can import those cars into Australia.

1. Decide what type of import you need

You'll need to import your vehicle under a specific option. There are a number of options, not all of which apply to those wanting to import a car as a daily driver

  • Vehicles made before 1 January 1989. You can import a vehicle made before this date, which many car enthusiasts will use to import classic cars, older Japanese imports and more.
  • Personal imports. This applies to those moving to Australia who want to bring their cars with them. You must have owned the vehicle for 12 months, it must've been garaged at a location close to your home and you must have held a valid driver's licence in the country.
  • Cars exported from Australia but re-imported. If you exported a car from Australia, for example, for an extended overseas trip, you can bring it back into Australia under this option.
  • Cars not available in Australia. As part of the Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicle Scheme (SEVS) you can import vehicles not officially sold here. Each car is subject to approval and must be listed on the SEVS Register.
  • Importing a luxury car. Cars in Australia are much more expensive than their European, Asian or American counterparts. However, if the car is supplied in full volume it's not possible to import it into Australia unless it's a personal import.

The rules for importing a car are going to change in 2018. Find out about the car import changes here.

What costs are involved?

There are many charges associated with importing a vehicle from overseas. To give you an idea, a $30,000 car made before 1 January 1989 leaving from Los Angeles and being delivered to Port Kembla in Sydney could cost approximately $4,400 excluding taxes, duties, GST and vehicle compliance and registration. Charges include:

  • Shipping and customs costs. Shipping costs include the costs of customs both in the country you're exporting from and in Australia, quarantine inspection fees, cleaning, international freight and port service charges.
  • Taxes and duties. These include the luxury car tax of 33% on vehicles with a value greater than $60,316 ($75,375 for fuel-efficient vehicles) and GST. You'll also pay duty for the vehicle, which depends on the type and age of the vehicle. A vehicle under 30 years old will incur 5% duty and 10% GST.
  • Compliance costs. Many cars will need modifications to make them roadworthy in Australia. This can include disabling new light globes and re-gassing the air conditioner.
  • Registration and insurance. Just like with any car you'll need to get this registered once it's compliant and ready to drive. You'll also need to pay stamp duty and insurance.

You'll need to consider the documentation needed for an import, the timeframes needed to receive permits, the requirements of each government agency involved and whether or not the car you're importing will need modifications carried out to make it legal to drive in Australia.

If the car you are buying from overseas isn't for sale in Australian currency, then minimising the costs here could be of benefit to you. Using a low cost international money transfer option, such as OFX, could save you a considerable amount of money.

2. Apply for import approval

The next step is crucial because you must be approved to bring a vehicle to Australia, so here you'll decide from the options listed above and the others listed on the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development website.

You'll then need to fill out the application form and an addendum for the relevant option either online or by printing them out and mailing them in. If the Department requires extra information they'll email you so regularly check your account.

Once you've received approval you'll get a hard copy of the approval along with any conditions.

3. Arrange for your car to be shipped over

Now the expensive part begins. The costs of shipping begin before the car is even at the port. You'll need to have the car steam cleaned to reduce quarantine risks and you'll have to remove air-conditioning gas if this will be a problem.

Next, you'll need to pay for the above-mentioned shipping costs and have the vehicle delivered to Australia.

4. Get cleared by customs

Once the shipping process begins you need to lodge an importation declaration with customs. You can do this electronically, at an Australian Customs and Border Protection Service Branch, or through a customs broker.

When the car arrives you'll need to put your hand in your pocket again. This time for Customs duty, GST and Luxury Car Tax (if applicable).

5. Satisfy quarantine requirements

You'll need to lodge a quarantine entry and arrange an inspection time. The inspection will take into account every aspect of the car. If it doesn't pass the inspection, quarantine will make you clean it again and organise another inspection at your own cost.

6. Meet import approval conditions

You may have to modify your vehicle for it to be compliant. This can include but isn't limited to:

  • Giving the car a complete service
  • Replacing brake fluid
  • Fitting new brake pads if necessary
  • Removing gas headlights and replacing them with halogen lights
  • Replacing seat belts
  • Testing the car to make sure it's roadworthy
  • Changing the car from left-hand drive to right-hand drive.

You'll also need to arrange identification plate approval.

7. Register the vehicle

Once this is done all you need to do is register the car and insure it and it's all yours to drive.

Options for international payments and car loans

Rates last updated August 22nd, 2018
Name Product Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Services Description Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received
TorFX International Money Transfers
AUD 200
1 day
Online, Phone, Agent
TorFX guarantee to match any competitor's exchange rate for a transaction. Conditions apply.
Send money overseas in 45 currencies. Once registered, you'll be assigned an Account Manager who can provide support and guidance.

OFX (Ozforex) International Money Transfers
AUD 250
1 day
Online, Phone, Agent
$0 transfer fees for Finder customers.
Transfer any amount from $250 upwards. $0 transfer fee on transfers over AU$10,000, $15 flat fee applies otherwise. 24-hour customer service available with a local support team.
WorldFirst International Money Transfers
AUD 2,000
1 day
Online, Phone
Access live rates, currency converter and market updates via the WorldFirst Money Transfer mobile app. No transfer fees for personal or business customers.
FC Exchange International Money Transfers
AUD 3,000
1 day
Online, Phone, Bank Account to Bank Account
FC Exchange will match any competitor's exchange rates. Conditions apply.
No transfer fee when transferring more than £10,000 or equivalent. Send money in over 130 currencies. No maximum transfer amount.
XE International Money Transfers
1 day
Online, Phone, Bank Account to Bank Account
With global payments provider XE, enjoy fast and secure transfers and a range of foreign currency tools and calculators, while benefiting from $0 transfer fees.
ANZ International Money Transfer
1 - 2 days
Online, Phone, Bank Account to Bank Account
Transfer to over 99 countries via online banking, phone banking or through an ANZ Bank branch. Rate last updated on 17/08/2018 at 1:30 pm. Find out how we calculate this exchange rate.
HiFX International Money Transfers
AUD 50
2 days
Online, Phone, Agent
Transfer amounts as low as $50. No maximum transfer amount. No transfer fees if you transfer more than AU$10,000.
BFX Australia International Money Transfers
AUD 250
2 days
Online, Phone, Agent, Bank Account to Bank Account, International Money Order
Pay $0 fee when you transfer more than $5000, regardless of whether you transfer online, over the phone or in branch.
FlashFX International Money Transfers
AUD 200
1 day
Online, Bank Account to Bank Account
Low minimum transfer amount of just AU$200, with no set-up fees or transfer fees.
PayPal International Money Transfers
1 day
Online, Bank Account to Bank Account
Send money overseas to more than 20 countries. Rate last updated on 17/08/2018 at 1:30 pm. Find out how we calculate this exchange rate.
Commonwealth Bank International Money Transfers
3 - 5 days
Online, Phone, Bank Account to Bank Account
Send money overseas using NetBank or the CommBank app. Rate last updated on 17/08/2018 at 1:30 pm. Find out how we calculate this exchange rate.
The ‘Rate’ and ‘Amount Received’ displayed are indicative rates that have been supplied by each brand or gathered by Finder.

Exchange rates are volatile and change often. As a result, the exchange rate listed on Finder may vary to the actual exchange rate quoted for the brand. Please confirm the actual exchange rate and mention “Finder” before you commit to a brand.

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated August 22nd, 2018
Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comparison Rate (p.a.) Min Loan Amount Loan Term Monthly Service Fee Application Fee Product Description Monthly Repayment
Stratton Finance New Car Loan
From 5.29% (fixed)
1 to 7 years
Apply for up to $100,000 and have up to 7 year(s) to repay. You can use cash or trade in a vehicle to use as a deposit. - New Car Loan
From 5.44% (fixed)
3 to 5 years
This car loan is for new cars and offers a low fixed rate and no ongoing fees.
Latitude Personal Loan (Secured)
From 12.99% (fixed)
2 to 7 years
$250 (Loans under $4000 - $140)
Benefit from a tailored fixed rate from 12.99% p.a. to 28.99% p.a. with a loan that can be used for any purpose.
IMB New Car Loan
5.99% (fixed)
1 to 7 years
Borrow up to $75,000 for a new car up to two years old. Competitive 5.99% p.a. rate available to all approved applicants.
Beyond Bank Low Rate Car Loan
From 5.69% (fixed)
1 to 7 years
Take advantage of a competitive rate, pre-approval and no early repayment fees when you finance a car under two years old.
Sydney CU Special Variable Car Loan
5.95% (variable)
1 to 7 years
Benefit from a flexible, variable rate to finance a car up to 3 years old with SCU. Note: Approval fee waived until 30th September 2018.
IMB Secured Personal Loan
6.89% (fixed)
1 to 5 years
All approved applicants can access this competitive rate and use the loan to finance a range of purposes. Loan amounts up to $60,000 available.
MyState Secured Personal Loan
From 7.99% (variable)
1 to 10 years
Apply for a loan up to $75,000 and benefit from loan terms up to 10 years. Your choice between secured or unsecured.
St.George Secured Personal Loan - Fixed Rate
From 8.49% (fixed)
1 to 5 years
Use your car as security and benefit from a competitive interest rate.

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated August 22nd, 2018
Name Product From Price Per Week Insurance included Membership Fee Excess km cost Product Description
Splend Car Rentals
Rent an Uber-ready vehicle from Splend and get access to fuel discounts, referral bonuses and member only benefits. Rent-to-Drive and Rent-to-Buy options available.
Driverlend is a finance broker. Lease or buy a car with Driverlend and you could get up to 25% discount on dealership prices for a new vehicle.
DriveMyCar Uber Rentals
A peer-to-peer rideshare platform that offers insurance, maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance in the all-inclusive price. You'll get access to discounts if you rent longer than six months.
Europcar Uber Rental
Benefit from 24/7 roadside assistance, a wide range of vehicles and no signup fee to start driving with Uber. A minimum four-week rental period applies.
Hertz Uber Rental
You can Rent a car from Hertz get access to 24/7 roadside assistance, no lock-in contracts and no joining fees. Limited areas.

Compare up to 4 providers

How to find assistance with your import

If the above process sounds long and arduous, it's because it is. Our government wants to protect the public, industry and the environment from the impacts imported vehicles can have, so has introduced the steps above to ensure dangerous vehicles don't enter the country. If you need assistance with your import, consider the following:

  • Import agent. Many companies are available to act as an agent in the event that you wish to bring a car to Australia from overseas. The company take care of all the groundwork for you until it arrives in Australia.
  • Buyer's agent. An option popular among the Japanese and American car import scene are buyer's agents. These agents can source the car on your behalf, send you correspondence and then arrange for the required steps to bring the car if you're happy with the car.
  • Online forum. You can get advice and find out about other people's experiences by heading to an online forum. Popular forums include Skyline Australia, USMuscle, Whirlpool, Might Car Mods, BritsInOz and PomsInOz.
  • The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development. These guys have the final say on whether or not you can bring a vehicle into Australia, so you'll want to intimately know how the legal requirements work.
  • Redbook. Redbook is a free resource which lists the prices for a huge range of cars. This can help you decide whether or not it's worth importing a car as opposed to buying it in Australia and will tell you how much your car should be worth.

Why would I want to import a car?

There are many reasons why you may want to bring a car from overseas to your doorstep:

  • You want to import a car not available for purchase in Australia
  • You've recently moved to Australia and want to bring your car over
  • You want to import a car which you've seen available cheaper overseas

The benefits for these reasons include:

  • You can pay much less than buying the same car in Australia
  • You can drive a car not often seen on our streets
  • You can save money not having to sell your car overseas only to buy the same model in Australia

However, there are some disadvantages of importing a car too. It may be a struggle to source parts for your car if you're having any mechanical problems and experience long waiting times - so there may be a period when you can't get from point A to point B.

The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development lists eight steps which need to be carried out before you can drive your pride and joy on our roads.

Click here to learn about which import option is best for you.

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Car Loan Offers

Important Information*
IMB New Car Loan

Borrow up to $75,000 for a new car up to two years old. Competitive 5.99% p.a. rate available to all approved applicants. - New Car Loan

This car loan is for new cars and offers a low fixed rate and no ongoing fees.

Latitude Motor Vehicle Loan

Apply online to finance a new or used motor vehicle and receive a response in 90 seconds. You will receive a competitive tailored rate of between 6.99% p.a. to 14.99% p.a. based on your risk profile.

Stratton Finance New Car Loan

Apply for up to $100,000 and have up to 7 year(s) to repay. You can use cash or trade in a vehicle to use as a deposit.

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