There is absolutely no point discussing seeking, assessing, purchasing or shipping a particular vehicle if essentially no import approval can be obtained. There are a lot of automotive and marine shipping experts out there, perhaps even some with nearly comparable logistics skill and knowledge that EDI International Freight Management Pty Ltd actually possess, but none can tell you with confidence just off the cuff whether the vehicle you are considering will actually attain a successful import approval with the Dept of Infrastructure in Canberra like we at EDI can and then back it up by assisting with the application right through to attaining that successful approval.


Loose guidelines of a successful import approval for a post 1988 manufactured road motor car or cycle start with one option of eligibility being a personal import where one must either be a migrant or resuming Australian resident, have owned and used the vehicle overseas for a previous continuous 12 months and show intention to return permanently to Australia. The only other way for a road registered vehicle is via the low volume import scheme meaning obtaining an import approval for a vehicle from a (RAWS) Registered Automotive Workshop for a vehicle on the SEVS register. These vehicles are loosely variants to vehicles already available in Australia. There are pre-registration compliance requirements and costs for most Harley and late model motorcycles (please ask us which models are on the register) can cost approx. A$2500 for workshop compliance costs. Compliance on late model RHD cars can cost from $3000 to $10000 depending on the model and full compliance of new LHD American muscle and 4WD can cost up to $30000 for workshop compliance and conversion costs (again, please ask us which models are on the register). Consideration can be given to models for test and evaluation and EDI can advise each case on its own merit.


There are obvious other exceptions to full compliance, for example off road vehicles, race cars imported with CAMS or similar licence holders, travellers or exhibition vehicles moving under ATA Carnet or previously Australian plated vehicles returning will be approved with the right submission. Outside of any of the above any vehicle manufactured in 1988 or earlier is easily eligible for an import approval. One exception is an overly modified old vehicle similar to a hot rod but let us take a look at what you have in mind and advise accordingly each case on its own merit knowing the departments stance on this exception.

Motor cycles all attract nil customs duty. Vehicles over 30 years old can stay left hand drive and customs duty is also nil. All vehicles of USA origin are free of duty under the free trade agreement (with exception of new passenger cars) and only 10% GST is payable to Customs on importation otherwise in all other cases please also factor a 5% duty payable to Customs as well on the FOB purchase price. This is easily calculated on a newly purchased unit however with a personal import that has been owned for some time in some cases Customs will require us to arrive at an agreed FOB valuation (not a higher market valuation) and a customs approved valuer may need to be engaged. Valuations over loosely A$58000 will attract a luxury car tax.

Trailers also require import approval and this is easily attained if demonstration via the VIN/chassis plate can be proved to be under 4500kg GVM. This applies to caravans, horse trailers, boat trailers, camping trailers, airstreams etc. Any door openings to the right will need to be changed to the left or rear but a lot of these modifications can be negotiated with manufacturers before purchase. Trailers over the 4500kg GVM will require close scrutinization of complying with Austrian Design Rules for example, obvious starting points are axle design and braking systems.


In all cases approvals will be conditional to be plated by a mechanical engineer as a pre-registration requirement and in all cases with exception to low volume approvals the plating is a simple process with minimal expense and perhaps with some minimal modifications required. We can assist manage this whole process on your behalf and even take your car right through to actual state territory road registration if requested.

Another regulatory aspect requiring consideration is air conditioners in vehicles and also fridges in RV’s etc will required to be degassed by a licenced refrigeration mechanic and issued with a certificate ahead of shipping and we can make these arrangements so that on arrival the documentation is complete and correct for the Dept of Environment and Heritage’s Ozone depletion legislation.

One further regulatory aspect is cleanliness for quarantine and on arrival we prepare and submit information regarding items being new or used and then AQIS inspection officers issue a subsequent direction for any used machinery or part to be inspected at the wharf depot on arrival before release and delivery can be arranged. Traditionally for vehicles the wheel guards are the first place they search for dirt containing organic matter and if in their eyes soil contamination exists they reserve the right to order a steam-clean underneath and subsequent reinspection and also under bonnets and trunks and internal carpets are opened and inspected also and can sometimes be ordered for an internal vacuum / clean. Most equipment get released by reasonable examining officers on an initial examination, but it is usually a “barn find” style of vehicle or some agricultural or mining machinery that will attract the most vigorous attention and with these cases we recommend the seller or our packing station at load port assist with a pre-clean before shipping as this effort will go a long way to ensuring that AQIS cannot consider rejecting arrival of what they may deem to be overly contaminated machinery.


With all of the possible scenarios listed above the key is to be one step ahead of their possible directives and EDI possess that experience to avoid such pitfalls by approaching an expected outcome in a manner that avoids issue, so even with a simple import approval application, it can save a lot of heartache if an approval is perused for completeness and correctness by EDI ahead of lodgement.