Guide to importing a car into Australia

Got your eyes on a car that's not available in Australia? Find out how you can import it.

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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 that you can't get here.

See how to import your dream car with our step-by-step guide and compare your finance options.

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 changed 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.

Compare car loans and international payments options

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$
Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comparison Rate (p.a.) Monthly Repayment View Details CTA
Wisr Secured Car Loan
From
4.49%
(fixed)
5.31%
You'll receive a personalised interest rate from 4.49% p.a. to 13.59% p.a. based on your risk profile
A flexible car loan from $5,000 - $79,000 with personalised rates and rewards for strong credit customers.
You'll receive a personalised interest rate from 4.49% p.a. to 13.59% p.a. based on your risk profile
A flexible car loan from $5,000 - $79,000 with personalised rates and rewards for strong credit customers.
Credit Concierge Car Loan
From
3.69%
(fixed)
4.23%
You'll receive a fixed rate of 3.69% p.a. with a comparison rate of 4.23% p.a.
Get access to over 20 providers to fund a new or used car.
You'll receive a fixed rate of 3.69% p.a. with a comparison rate of 4.23% p.a.
Get access to over 20 providers to fund a new or used car.
loans.com.au - New - Prime Special (Variable)
From
2.99%
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3.53%
You'll receive a variable rate from 2.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Finance a new car and benefit from features such as fast approval, no ongoing fees.

Special Offer: Settle the loan before 30 June 2022 and enter the draw to win a $1,000 fuel gift voucher. T&Cs apply.
You'll receive a variable rate from 2.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Finance a new car and benefit from features such as fast approval, no ongoing fees.

Special Offer: Settle the loan before 30 June 2022 and enter the draw to win a $1,000 fuel gift voucher. T&Cs apply.
IMB New Car Loan
4.88%
(fixed)
5.23%
You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.88% p.a.
A low minimum borrowing amount of $2,000 that you can use to purchase a new car or one that's up to two years old.
You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.88% p.a.
A low minimum borrowing amount of $2,000 that you can use to purchase a new car or one that's up to two years old.
Stratton Finance New Car Loan
From
3.99%
(fixed)
4.54%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 3.99% p.a. depending on the lender you are approved with.
Apply for up to $300,000 and use cash or trade in a vehicle to use as a deposit. Optional balloon payment available.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 3.99% p.a. depending on the lender you are approved with.
Apply for up to $300,000 and use cash or trade in a vehicle to use as a deposit. Optional balloon payment available.
OurMoneyMarket Car Loan
From
5.35%
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5.65%
You'll receive a fixed interest rate from 5.35% p.a. to p.a. based on your risk profile.
Borrow between $2,001 and $75,000 to finance a new or used car up to 7 years.
You'll receive a fixed interest rate from 5.35% p.a. to p.a. based on your risk profile.
Borrow between $2,001 and $75,000 to finance a new or used car up to 7 years.
Plenti Car Loan
From
5.99%
(fixed)
6.54%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 5.99% p.a.
Borrow up to $100,000 with a Plenti Car Loan and benefit from no early repayment or exit fees.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 5.99% p.a.
Borrow up to $100,000 with a Plenti Car Loan and benefit from no early repayment or exit fees.
RACV New Car Loans
From
4.99%
(fixed)
5.69%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% p.a.
A larger loan of $5,000 or more to help you buy a new or used car. 5-hour pre approval available and no ongoing fees.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% p.a.
A larger loan of $5,000 or more to help you buy a new or used car. 5-hour pre approval available and no ongoing fees.
NRMA New Car Loan
From
4.99%
(fixed)
5.69%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% p.a.
Purchase a new or used car up to 3 years old and benefit from a fixed rate and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% p.a.
Purchase a new or used car up to 3 years old and benefit from a fixed rate and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
SocietyOne Car Loan
From
5.45%
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5.45%
You'll receive a fixed rate between 5.45% p.a. and p.a. based on your risk profile
A loan from $5,000 to use for a range of purposes. Benefit from no ongoing fees and no early repayment fee.
You'll receive a fixed rate between 5.45% p.a. and p.a. based on your risk profile
A loan from $5,000 to use for a range of purposes. Benefit from no ongoing fees and no early repayment fee.
Latitude Personal Loan
From
5.75%
(fixed or variable)
6.68%
You'll receive a variable or fixed rate between 5.75% p.a. and 25.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Lock in a competitive fixed rate when you offer security. Loan can be used for any purpose and repayments are flexible. You can check your interest rate before applying with no impact to your credit score.
You'll receive a variable or fixed rate between 5.75% p.a. and 25.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Lock in a competitive fixed rate when you offer security. Loan can be used for any purpose and repayments are flexible. You can check your interest rate before applying with no impact to your credit score.
NRMA Used Car Loan
From
6.24%
(fixed)
6.94%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 6.24% p.a.
Finance a used car with NRMA and benefit from a fixed rate term and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 6.24% p.a.
Finance a used car with NRMA and benefit from a fixed rate term and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
loans.com.au - Used Car Loan (8+ years)
From
8.19%
(variable)
8.75%
You'll get a variable rate of 8.19% p.a.
Borrow up to $50,000 for a used car for 8+ years, with no monthly fee.

Special offer: Settle the loan before 30 June 2022 and enter the draw to win a $1,000 fuel gift voucher. Terms and conditions apply.
You'll get a variable rate of 8.19% p.a.
Borrow up to $50,000 for a used car for 8+ years, with no monthly fee.

Special offer: Settle the loan before 30 June 2022 and enter the draw to win a $1,000 fuel gift voucher. Terms and conditions apply.
loans.com.au - Used Car Loan (6+ years)
From
4.29%
(variable)
4.83%
You'll get a variable rate from 4.29% p.a.
Borrow up to $100,000 for a used car for 6+ years, with no monthly fee.

Special offer: Settle the loan before 30 June 2022 and enter the draw to win a $1,000 fuel gift voucher. Terms and conditions apply.
You'll get a variable rate from 4.29% p.a.
Borrow up to $100,000 for a used car for 6+ years, with no monthly fee.

Special offer: Settle the loan before 30 June 2022 and enter the draw to win a $1,000 fuel gift voucher. Terms and conditions apply.
loans.com.au - New - Prime Special (Fixed)
5.09%
(fixed)
5.64%
You'll receive a fixed rate of 5.09% p.a. based on your risk profile
Finance a new car and benefit from features such as fast approval, no ongoing fees and an optional balloon payment.

Special Offer: Settle the loan before 30 June 2022 and enter the draw to win a $1,000 fuel gift voucher. T&Cs apply.
You'll receive a fixed rate of 5.09% p.a. based on your risk profile
Finance a new car and benefit from features such as fast approval, no ongoing fees and an optional balloon payment.

Special Offer: Settle the loan before 30 June 2022 and enter the draw to win a $1,000 fuel gift voucher. T&Cs apply.
Stratton Finance Used Car Loan
From
3.99%
(fixed)
4.54%
You'll receive a fixed rate loan from 3.99% p.a. with a comparison rate of 4.54% p.a.
A used car loan of up to $300,000 with quick approval times and balloon payment options.
You'll receive a fixed rate loan from 3.99% p.a. with a comparison rate of 4.54% p.a.
A used car loan of up to $300,000 with quick approval times and balloon payment options.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Our table below lets you compare services you can use to send money abroad. Compare fees, exchange rates and discounts from different money transfer services, and when you have made your choice, click Go to site.
1 - 20 of 22
Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer) Learn More
TorFX
24 hours
$0

View details
TorFX guarantees to match any competitor's exchange rate. Conditions apply.
TorFX sends money overseas in 30+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
Send Payments
24 hours
$0

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Send guarantees to match any competitor’s exchange rate. T&Cs apply.
Send provides fee-free transfers via its 24/7 multi-currency payments platform with real-time quotes.
OFX
24 hours
From $15

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OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 45+ currencies.
Ria Money Transfers
Within minutes
$0 for new customers or $2.89 fee per transaction (online only)

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$0 fee for new customers with code ‘HelloRia’
Ria lets you send money to 165+ countries with cash pick-up at 507,000 locations.
Western Union
Within minutes
From $0

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Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world.
XE Money Transfers
Within minutes
$0

View details
XE has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
TorFX
24 hours
$0

View details
TorFX guarantees to match any competitor's exchange rate. Conditions apply.
TorFX sends money overseas in 30+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
Send Payments
24 hours
$0

View details
Send guarantees to match any competitor’s exchange rate. T&Cs apply.
Send provides fee-free transfers via its 24/7 multi-currency payments platform with real-time quotes.
SingX
Within minutes
0.45%

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Pay no fees on your first two transfers, up to $3,000.
SingX offers the real exchange rate every time you make a transfer and can help you send money across the world.
Wise (TransferWise)
24 hours
From 0.35%

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Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 50+ currencies.
Instarem
Within minutes
From 0%

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Instarem offers simple transfers with a flat 0.5% transfer fee for most transfers.
Remitly
Within an hour
From $2.99

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Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
CurrencyFair
Within minutes
From $0

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Special offer: New customers get unlimited fee-free transfers for their first 3 months. T&Cs apply.
CurrencyFair has bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
WorldRemit
Within minutes
$1.99
SPECIAL OFFER ✓ Use the code ‘4FREEFINDER’ to get 4 free transfers if you are a first time user. Eligible countries only.

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Use promo code 3FREE to send your first 3 transfers with no fee. Conditions apply.
WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups.
MasterRemit
Within minutes
From $1

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New customers get their first transaction for free with code FIRSTFREE. T&Cs apply.
Send money in minutes at competitive exchange rates with this Australian money transfer service.
SingX For Large Transfers
Within minutes
0.45%

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Pay no fees on your first two transfers, up to $3,000.
SingX offers the real exchange rate every time you make a transfer and can help you send money across the world.
WorldFirst Business Transfers
WorldFirst Business Transfers
24 hours
From $0

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Open bank accounts in Australia, the UK, US, Canada, Japan and Europe. Send and receive funds with zero fees for large sums, including same-currency supplier payments.
Airwallex
Within minutes
$0

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Airwallex can help you make business payments to 23+ currencies using competitive interbank rates and no fees for most transfers.
TorFX Business Transfers
24 hours
$0

View details
TorFX guarantees to match any competitor's exchange rate. Conditions apply.
TorFX sends money overseas in 30+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
Send business
Within minutes
$0

View details
Send guarantees to match any competitor’s exchange rate. T&Cs apply.
Send provides fee-free transfers via its 24/7 multi-currency payments platform with real-time quotes.
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1 - 3 of 3
Name Product Price Per Week (from) Insurance Included? Membership Fee Excess Distance Cost
Splend Flexi
$269
Yes
$275 (26 week rental period)
$0.10 per km
Get access to fuel discounts, referral bonuses and member only benefits when you rent a rideshare car with Splend. Flexi and Flexi own options available.
DriveMyCar Uber Rentals
$160
Yes
$0
$0.10 per km
Get insurance, maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance in the all-inclusive price. Discounts available for longer rental periods.
Splend Flexi own
$269
Yes
$275 (26 week rental period)
$0.10 per km
Rent a car and pay it off as you go with no lock-in contract, membership benefits and flexible rental options
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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.

Can you sell an imported car in Australia?

Yes. According to the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, you can sell an imported vehicle as long as it's met the requirements for import approval and initial registration unless conditions have been applied to the Vehicle Import Approval. Make sure you check with the registration authority in your state or territory if there are requirements for selling your imported vehicle.

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

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Car Loan Offers

Important Information*
Logo for IMB New Car Loan
IMB New Car Loan

You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.88% p.a.
A low minimum borrowing amount of $2,000 that you can use to purchase a new car or one up to two years old.

Logo for Beyond Bank Low Rate Car Loan "Special Offer"
Beyond Bank Low Rate Car Loan "Special Offer"

You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.69% p.a.
Take advantage of a competitive rate, pre-approval and no early repayment fees when you finance a car under two years old.

Logo for RACV New Car Loans
RACV New Car Loans

You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% p.a.
A larger loan of $5,000 or more to help you buy a new or used car. 5-hour pre approval available and no ongoing fees.

Logo for NRMA New Car Loan
NRMA New Car Loan

You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.99% p.a.
Purchase a new or used car up to 2 years old and benefit from a fixed rate and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.

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