Who can import a vehicle into Australia?
All privately imported vehicles are subject to the same rates of customs duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) and, where applicable, Luxury Car Tax (LCT) as commercially imported vehicles. The customs duty is based on the customs value of the vehicle.
The customs value of the vehicle is calculated in Australian dollars.
If you can show the vehicle (or motorcycle) was purchased to be exported to Australia for private use, the customs value will be calculated based on the 'price actually paid or payable', where price is not influenced by any other factor.
When determining the customs value, adjustments may be made to the price paid by the importer to have the vehicle or motorcycle brought to Australia – for example, the deduction of overseas freight and insurance.
However if there is insufficient or unreliable information regarding the purchase, the fall-back alternative method (set out in Section 159 of the Customs Act) is used. Customs will usually accept the landed cost of the vehicle or motorcycle in Australia, as assessed by a qualified motor vehicle valuer, as the basis for determining the customs value.
Tourists and temporary residents
As a tourist or temporary resident, you may bring a vehicle or a motorcycle and attached trailer or a caravan to Australia for a period of up to 12 months (or longer under certain circumstances) without paying duty and taxes, provided they are subsequently exported from Australia.
For this concession to apply, you will need either:
- A Carnet de Passages en Douane (CPD) issued by an overseas organisation that has a reciprocal arrangement with the RAC.
- A cash or bank security, equal to the amount of duty and GST and, where applicable, LCT otherwise payable.
All vehicles driven on an Australian road must have Third Party Insurance. If your vehicle is stolen, damaged or destroyed while you’re in Australia, you should notify customs as soon as possible at your original port of arrival.
All fittings and accessories imported with your motor vehicle, motorcycle, trailer or caravan must also be exported with that same vehicle.
To prevent the entry of diseases, noxious weeds and insect pests into Australia, quarantine authorities inspect all vehicles on arrival, and may require them to be properly cleaned, usually by steam cleaning.
Remove all soil and any other matter from your vehicle (including the underside) before exporting it to Australia.
You may import an Australian-manufactured motor vehicle or motorcycle without paying duty on it, providing you have owned and used the vehicle overseas and there are no outstanding Australian duties, taxes or charges owing on it.
You will be required to pay Goods and Services Tax (GST) and, where applicable, Luxury Car Tax (LCT) on the vehicle if no GST or applicable LCT was paid when the vehicle was originally exported from Australia.
Under the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989, it’s an offence to import any new or second-hand vehicle unless:
- It meets the safety and emissions standards applying to vehicles to be used on Australian roads.
- Arrangements are in place to modify the vehicle to meet these requirements after its arrival in Australia.
Customs has no control or authority over motor vehicle or motorcycle specifications or registration requirements in Australia. Before bringing your vehicle to Australia, check with the Department of Transport to ensure it meets registration requirements.
Vehicles can be temporarily imported and legally driven on Australian roads for the period of carnet validity (temporary importation period), provided registration is still current in the vehicle's country of origin.
Last updated October 2017