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Bringing Your Car to Australia

Everything you should know about bringing your car to Australia.

General Information
Importing Your Vehicle into Australia Under the Cover of a Carnet
Importing Your Vehicle into Australia Without a Carnet
Temporary Vehicle Import Approval
Evidence of Identity
Registration Requirements
Important Information About Driving in Australia
Selling Your Vehicle

General Information

There are two methods for temporarily importing your vehicle into Australia for touring purposes. These are:

bulletUnder the cover of a carnet
bulletUnder section 162 of the Customs Act

All temporary importers of road vehicles should contact the Australian Customs Service for information relating to duties/taxes/fees and quarantine requirements.

Upon arrival in Australia the vehicle will need to be inspected by both Customs and the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS).

Unless prior permission has been granted the vehicle must not be:

bulletLent, sold, pledged, mortgaged, hired, given away or exchanged;
bulletParted with, unless for the purpose of exportation;
bulletOtherwise disposed of; or
bulletAltered in any way

It is important to note that any goods that have been temporarily imported may not be left in Australia while the importer is out of Australia.

Before your vehicle can be released from Customs:

bullet Book in to see a Customs Officer to have the vehicle inspected at the wharf.
bullet Book in for a Quarantine Inspection.
bullet If applicable, book in for an Authorised Unregistered Vehicle Inspection (AUVIS) Obtain insurance if not already organised before leaving home country (Comprehensive is difficult, Third Party Property is available).

Vehicles imported temporarily must be exported from Australia within the period allowed.

For information about the permanent importation of a motor vehicle contact:

bullet The Australian Customs Service regarding Duty, Goods and Services Tax and quarantine issues; and
The Department of Transport and Regional Services regarding permit requirements.
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Importing Your Vehicle into Australia Under the Cover of a Carnet

The simplest way to bring your vehicle to Australia on a temporary basis is by Carnet De Passages en Douane (CPD carnet).

Carnets can be obtained for motor vehicles, motorcycles, campervans, four wheel drive vehicles, caravans and trailers. Carnets are issued in accordance with the Customs Convention on the Temporary Importation of Private Motor Vehicles. Vehicles issued a carnet may not be lent, sold, mortgaged, hired, exchanged, given away or otherwise disposed of while in Australia.

Carnets are available from the motoring organisation in your country of residence. For USA residents, carnets are available from the Canadian Automobile Association in Ottawa. If you are going to use a carnet to temporarily import your vehicle into Australia you must obtain the carnet before the vehicle arrives in Australia.

A carnet is similar to a personal passport and contains all the relevant information about the vehicle - make, model, colour, engine capacity, seating capacity, registration number, owner and value.

A carnet is valid for 12 months from the date of issue. There are a number of conditions attached to the use of carnets in Australia. Some of those conditions are:

The vehicle must be exported from Australia prior to or on the expiry date of the carnet.
It is a condition of use of a carnet in Australia that you, do not leave the vehicle that is covered by a carnet in Australia while you are not here. Should you do so, this is a breach of the provisions of the Customs Act 1901 and Customs Regulations 1926. Once a breach has occurred, the security amount equivalent to the duty and GST (and Luxury Car Tax (LCT), if applicable) will be called up by Customs.

To obtain a carnet you have to provide the issuing motoring organisation with a security equivalent to approximately 100% of the market value of the vehicle (26% for motorcycles). Should a breach of the Customs regulations occur, the Customs duty rate for passenger motor vehicles is 15% and $12,000 per vehicle. GST is charged in addition to this and is charged at a rate of 10% of the VoTI. The VoTI is equal to the sum of the Customs value, plus the Customs duty, plus the cost of transporting the goods to Australia and for insuring the goods for that transport.

Further, the security should also cover any Luxury Car Tax that may become payable on the vehicles. Luxury Car Tax becomes payable on certain vehicles that are above the LCT threshold. This threshold is determined by the Australian Taxation Office and reviewed every year.

The amount of LCT payable is set out in 5-15 of the "A New Tax System (Luxury Car Tax) 1999".

Generally three types of security are available from motoring organisations.

bulletCash bond.
bulletBanker's Letter of Indemnity.
bulletInsurance policy.

Please note that not all motoring clubs offer all three options.

The security is refunded/released after the carnet is returned to the issuing organisation. Contact your local motoring organisation or the Australian Automobile Association for more information on Carnets.

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Importing Your Vehicle into Australia Without a Carnet

Tourists or temporary residents who cannot or do not wish to obtain a carnet may use the provisions of s162 or s162A of the Customs Act. This method is really only suitable for vehicles that meet the Australian Design Rules (indicated by a compliance plate fixed to the fire wall of the vehicle) or those that are fifteen or more years old on their arrival in Australia.

Vehicles temporarily imported without a carnet will be required to provide security with the Australian Customs Service on arrival in Australia. The vehicle cannot be released until Customs and Department of Transport and Regional Services requirements have been fulfilled.

If you import a vehicle without a carnet you will require Vehicle Import Approval (VIA) (fee payable). You must obtain this before the vehicle arrives in Australia.

Application forms are available from:

The Administrator of Vehicle Standards
ACT Federal Office of Road Safety
GPO Box 1553
Canberra Australia 2601

or any Australian overseas mission.

An application for an Import Permit can take up to 21 days to process so it is a good idea to apply well before the vehicle arrives in Australia otherwise you will not be allowed to move the vehicle from the wharf or airport.
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Temporary Vehicle Approval

If you import a vehicle without a carnet you will require Vehicle Import Approval (VIA). Applications for Vehicle Import Approval must be made to the Department of Transport and Regional Services before the vehicle arrives in Australia.

Vehicle Import Approval will be granted if:

bulletYou hold a current Visitor Visa; and
bulletYour vehicle has overseas registration.

Import approval will be issued for the duration of the visitor visa.

People travelling on Temporary Resident visas are not eligible for a Temporary Vehicle Import Approval. Temporary residents can only import vehicles under carnet. The carnet will be limited to 12 months and not the period of the visa.

All Vehicles arriving in Australia must carry current registration for the duration of the visit and be roadworthy.
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Evidence of Identity

Every person or company entering Australia under cover of a Carnet (CPD) will be required to undergo an "evidence of identity" (EOI) verification to prove that actually are who they say they are.

Individuals will need to present several documents to establish identity. These should include a valid passport along with a driver's license, permit or identification document with a photograph and signature of the holder.
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Registration Requirements

All vehicles travelling on Australian roads are required to be covered by Third Party (bodily injury) Insurance. This insurance covers physical injury to another person in an accident where your vehicle is at fault. For insurance, which covers damage to property or your own vehicle, owners/drivers will need to take out separate insurance (see our section on insurance under Driving in Australia).

For those State/Territories that require an Unregistered Vehicle Permit (UVP), you must produce the following documents:

bulletCurrent registration papers for the vehicle;
bulletThe vehicle import documents, including the Carnet or VIA;
bulletYour passport and visa; and
bulletYour driver's licence and/or International Driving Permit.

The Vehicle must have:

bulletWorking headlights;
bulletWorking tail lights, including stop and turn lights;
bulletWorking windscreen wipers (if fitted);
bulletEffective brakes;
bulletSeat belts (if fitted);
bulletChild restraints (if fitted);
bulletGood tyres (with minimum tread depth); and
bulletNo oil leaks

You will also need to provide a contact address in Australia and overseas.

Once the vehicle has passed the inspection and payment of the applicable fee is paid, a UVP will be issued.

Specific registration requirements that apply to each State and Territory:

bulletAustralian Capital Territory
bulletNew South Wales
bulletNorthern Territory
bulletSouth Australia
bulletWestern Australia

Australian Capital Territory
In the ACT you may apply for Third Party Insurance for vehicles imported under carnet for the period of the registration or the carnet, whichever expires first. You should attend:

Road User Services Office
13-15 Challis Street
Dickson ACT
Telephone: (02) 6207 7000
Fax: (02) 6207 7120

or one of the ACT Government shopfronts.

You must present your overseas registration papers and carnet. You will also need an Australian address. The Third Party Insurance fee is proportional to the length of time of its issue and only covers injuries to third parties.

Third Party Insurance or Permits issued in other Australian States or the Northern Territory are acceptable in the ACT provided that any conditions attached to the use of the vehicle are complied with.

If a vehicles current registration expires while the vehicle is in Australia, temporary registration is NOT available in the ACT.

You may apply for registration or an Unregistered Vehicle Permit (UVP) for vehicles imported temporarily under a Vehicle Import Approval (VIA) by the Commonwealth. These vehicles will need to be inspected at the Government Vehicle Inspection Station operated by Road User Services at 13-15 Challis Street, Dickson. An appointment is required and can be arranged by calling (02) 6207 7086. The vehicle will need to meet basic roadworthiness requirements and conditions will be applied to the registration in line with any restrictions detailed on the VIA or deficiencies of the vehicle against the normal vehicle standards. The registration of these vehicles is not transferable and will not be extended beyond the date specified in the VIA for the vehicle to be exported.

New South Wales
A vehicle that is in New South Wales (NSW) temporarily is exempt from NSW registration requirements providing that vehicle is registered in another, state, territory or in a foreign country (if you drive into one of our other state/territories it is compulsory to have Third Party Insurance).

If the operator of an overseas visiting vehicle requires Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance, the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) will collect payment through motor registries on behalf of QBE Insurance Ltd and issue a receipt to the operator.

CTP insurance cover can be obtained until the expiry date of the overseas registration up to a maximum of 12 months.

The cost of CTP insurance depends on the type of vehicle and duration of stay in NSW. CTP insurance for a car is approximately $400 per annum.

To obtain CTP insurance provide the following at a motor registry:

Current registration papers for the vehicle.
A NSW contact address.
Proof of identity (please refer to the RTA's website, or contact the RTA customer call centre on 132 213).
A Safety Inspection "pink slip" report for roadworthiness of the vehicle.
A completed Overseas Visiting Vehicle Declaration.

Northern Territory
Overseas vehicles arriving in the Northern Territory should contact the Department of Lands and Planning, Motor Vehicle Registry.

An overseas visitor may apply to Queensland Transport for the issue of an "Overseas Vehicle Permit". This permit will allow the vehicle to be driven on roads without being re-registered. The overseas registration label (or equivalent) and number plates must remain on the vehicle. To apply the applicant must provide the following:

bulletA Queensland Compulsory Third Party Insurance Certificate
bulletA police permit (left hand drive vehicles less than 30 years of age)
bulletThe vehicle, for inspection

As well as:

bulletAn Authority to Import
bulletA current passport stamped Visitor Visa (NZ visitors excepted)
bulletProof of current registration overseas

Or, alternatively:

bulletCarnet de Passages en Douane
bulletA current passport containing any visa
bulletProof of current registration

A permit may be issued until the sooner of:

bulletThe expiry date of the visa
bulletThe expiry date of the overseas registration
bullet12 months

If a permit is issued for less than 12 months and the visa is extended, the permit may also be extended provided the overseas registration is current until the extension date.

The permit must be carried in the vehicle when it is being driven on the road and must be presented to Police or Transport Inspectors if requested.

To apply for a permit visit a Queensland Transport Customer Service Centre.

South Australian
An overseas visitor may apply for an Unregistered Vehicle Permit to drive an overseas registered vehicle in South Australia. An application may be made at:

Transport SA
108 North Terrace
Telephone: 131 084
(Mon to Wed 8am-6pm, Thurs and Fri 8am-8pm)

or any of the other offices located throughout the metropolitan and country areas. A permit may be issued for any period of time depending upon the particular circumstances but must not expire later than the overseas registration period. The permit will cease to be in force if the ownership of the vehicle is transferred.

Evidence must be provided that the vehicle is covered by registration in the country of residence of the owner and that the vehicle is in Australia on a temporary basis. The owner will be required to produce the overseas registration certificate, carnet and their driver's licence. If a carnet has not been issued evidence that a bond has been lodged with the Australian Customs Service will be required.

Special conditions may be specified on the permit and a Third Party Insurance policy must be issued for the period of use in South Australia.

No South Australian number plates are issued but the overseas plates must be attached to the vehicle if required by the laws of the country of registration. The Overseas Visitors Permit is issued free of charge but an proportionate Third Party Insurance premium is required to cover the period specified in the permit. If a permit has been issued to an overseas registered vehicle in another State or Territory of Australia, that permit is acceptable to South Australia provided that any conditions attached to the use of the permit are complied with.

In Tasmania you may apply for Third Party Insurance for the length of your stay in Australia provided the overseas registration is current for that period. You must present your overseas registration papers and importation papers (carnet) or evidence that a bond has been lodged with the Australian Customs Service showing that your vehicle is here on a temporary basis.

Tasmania does not require visitors to apply for Unregistered Vehicle Permits to drive overseas registered vehicles in Tasmania. However, the vehicle's overseas registration plates must be attached to the vehicle if required by law in the country of origin.

Third Party Insurance issued in other Australian States/Territories is acceptable in Tasmania provided that any conditions attached to the use of the vehicle are complied with. If the interstate Third Party Insurance cover expires while the vehicle is in Tasmania the visitor will be required to take out additional Third Party Insurance.

Any inquires should be made to:

Registration and Licensing Branch
Level 4, 188 Collins Street
Hobart, Tasmania
Telephone: 03 6233 5201 (8.15 am - 5 pm)

An Unregistered Vehicle Permit (UVP) may be issued for overseas vehicles that do not have registration, authorising the use of these vehicles in Victoria. The applicant is required to provide proof (eg. Entry Visa) that the vehicle is visiting Victoria temporarily.

If the overseas registration is current, an Unregistered Vehicle Permit is not necessary, however Non Registered Vehicle (NRV) cover must be taken out. This cover is only valid for the currency of the vehicle's overseas registration. The NRV fee is based on the garaged address of the vehicle.

A UVP is normally issued for 7 to 28 days, however they may be issued for up to 12 months. Permits of 12 months duration should only be issued for vehicles in cases where it is deemed that it is impractical or unreasonable to have these vehicles registered.

The telephone number for the Victorian Road Traffic Authority,
VIC Roads is 131 171.

Western Australia
After the vehicle has been cleared by Customs, a temporary permit must be obtained from the Department for Planning and Infrastructure to authorise the vehicle to be driven from point of entry to any vehicle examinations centre to have the vehicle examined for roadworthiness.

The closest licensing centre to the Port of Fremantle is:

Department for Planning and Infrastructure
Fremantle Business Centre
Cnr Stock Road and Leach Highway
Telephone: 08 9331 4422
Fax: 08 9331 7039

Once inspection is passed, an Overseas Visitors Permit will be issued (Third Party Injury Insurance fee only).

In Western Australia there is no minimum permit cover period, and the maximum period is twelve months, or the expiry date of the carnet, or vehicle licence expiry date, whichever occurs first.

Fees for the Overseas Visitor Permit is based on the type of vehicle concerned. A permit for a motor car is around $20.30 per month, and for a motor cycle around $11.40 per month. "Left-hand drive" vehicles must display a warning sign. The signs may be purchased from The Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia (RACWA).

If a permit has been issued to an overseas registered vehicle in another State or Territory of Australia, that permit is not acceptable in Western Australia.
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Important Information About Driving in Australia

It is compulsory to carry your licence when driving in Australia. If the licence is not written in English, an International Driving Permit (IDP) or an English translation must also be carried with your licence. Seat Belts

It is compulsory for all vehicle occupants to wear seat belts (where fitted).

Blood Alcohol
It is an offence to drive or be in charge of a vehicle if you have a Blood Alcohol Concentration is 0.05% or more.

Left Hand Drive Vehicles
Light (not over 4.5 tonnes GVM) Left Hand Drive vehicles are not required to display a "Caution Left Hand Drive Vehicle" sign. Left hand drive vehicles over 4.5 tonnes are required to display a "Left Hand Drive" sign on the rear of the vehicle in words at least 75mm high in a colour that contrasts with the background to the words.

Overseas Registration
Your Vehicle will NOT be permitted to enter Australia if its overseas registration has expired.

Should the vehicles overseas registration expire while you are in Australia it is possible to obtain temporary registration from the State/Territory registering Authority. This concession is not available in Western Australia.

Comprehensive, accident, fire and theft insurance for overseas motor vehicles temporarily imported into Australia is generally not available. RACWA offers a tourist insurance policy except for left-hand drive vehicles.

You must try to arrange suitable cover before shipping your vehicle to Australia.

The Kings Cross Car Market Pty Ltd in Sydney, telephone (+61 2 9358 5000), email ( offers Third Party Property Damage Cover. This covers damage to another vehicle but not to the insured's own vehicle.

Helmets for Motorcyclists
Motorcyclists and their pillion passengers are required to wear helmets. The helmet must comply with Australian Standard AS 1698.

The standard label or sticker certifying compliance with the relevant standard must be clearly visible and must not be removed.

Mobile Phones
It is an offence for drivers to use mobile phones while the vehicle is moving and will attract a fine and in some States, demerit points.
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Selling Your Vehicle

Before your car or motorcycle is sold you must pay Customs Duty and the Carnet cleared by Customs. The vehicle cannot be legally sold or registered without first obtaining import approval from the Federal Office of Road Safety in Canberra. It is an offence to sell your vehicle in Australia unless it can be fitted with a compliance plate that shows it meets Australian standards. Contact the Federal Office of Road Safety for further information.

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