Guide to Importing a Car

There are currently only 3 ways you can purchase a vehicle overseas and import it into Australia.


  • An Australian Resident can personally import a vehicle if they have owned, and driven the vehicle overseas for more than 12 consecutive months prior to their arrival into Australia. The application to import the vehicle must then be made within 6 months of their arrival date into Australia


  • Any vehicle can be imported if it was manufactured prior to 1989. However, as with all motor vehicles, it will need to be roadworthy for registration


  • Compliance. Please click on this to link to check if your vehicle can be imported into Australia. If it can, then click on this link to see if, and which, RAW (Registered Automotive Workshop) can do the compliance for you. If it can be imported, check with that RAW to find out what they will charge you for compliance. Please note, these lists do not include vehicles made before 1989, because they can all be complied


Vehicle Import Approvals – you can click on this link to apply for one, BUT we highly recommend you ask your RAW (Registered Automotive Workshop) to get it for you. We also highly recommend you ask a RAW to apply for the VIA on your behalf. Please note that VIA’s may take up to 3-4 weeks (or sometimes longer) to process, and the DIT (Department of Infrastructure & Transport) take no responsibility for storage charges that could be incurred if your vehicle arrives into Australia before the VIA’s are received. They also state on their website that vehicles should not be exported from the country of origin until after you’ve received the VIA.

Many people chose not to use a RAW, and handle the process directly themselves. If this is your preferred option then you must ensure the vehicle is eligible to be imported, and can be made compliant. You have to remember though, that even if you organise the purchase and shipping of the vehicle yourself, you still need to secure an import approval from the DIT, and you cannot get one as a private individual. You can only have your vehicle made compliant by entering into an agreement with a RAW, who will do this on your behalf.

This still leaves you though to purchase the car and organise the shipping to Australia. Then comes the fun part, finding the motor vehicle you want!

Once you have located the car you will need to organise payment to the dealer, or seller overseas. Ensure you organise a vehicle inspection by an independent company, and ask for a copy of the report and digital photos to be sent to you for review prior to your final payment. Then ensure you organise Insurance (go to our SERVICES / Insurance page for more information) to ensure the vehicle is insured as soon as you take ownership.

Once the transaction is complete this is really where MGL Logistics comes in. We organise the transport to the overseas wharf, and can advise you the best shipping options, normally either on a Roll On/Roll Off vessel (the car is driven on and driven off) or in some cases, in your own container. Services on car carrying vessels from most countries are not as frequent as with container ships, yet in many cases the cost savings are worth the wait.

We will need all title documents from you as soon as available so that we can have our overseas office handle all of the shipping documentation. Upon receipt, this will enable us to clear the vehicle through Australian Customs for you on arrival.

Customs Duty, GST, and possibly Luxury Car Tax (depending on vehicle value) may need to be paid out on arrival. If the car is over 30 years old there will be no Duty applicable. Duty on vehicles under 30 years old varies, depending on the origin country, at between 5-10%. GST is calculated at 10% of the combined value of the purchase price of the car + the cost to land the vehicle into Australia + Duty. If the car is not a recent acquisition then Customs will determine a current valuation, and apply that value for GST and Duty purposes. If the vehicle has a value in excess of $64,132.00 (applicable for the tax year 2016/17), Luxury Car Tax will be applicable on the value over the threshold. The Luxury Car Tax rate is presently 33% and applies to passenger vehicles and not commercial vehicles.

Further local charges will be Port Costs, Customs Clearance and Handling Fees. In addition the vehicle will normally need to be steam cleaned by Quarantine on arrival.

Prior to shipment we are generally able to advise you all costs, and service options, prior to shipping your vehicle.

We will be happy to answer any further questions you have at any time. Please call us on 02 9700 0100 or email us at