Iron Chef

Transporting your car to Oz - everything you need to know!

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Hi guys,

 

I thought I should join up and contribute seeing a few members from here have now been in contact with me regarding importing, and given that many of you seem to be asking the same questions, I thought it best to jump on and keep everything in the one spot so it can be discussed. So here are the FAQs related to bringing your car with you to Australia as a personal import :)

 

1. Firstly the relevant legislation (abridged to suit PIO members):

 

The Personal Imports Scheme allows migrants settling in Australia, to bring their personal vehicles with them.

 

The Personal Imports Scheme is outlined at regulation 13 of the Motor Vehicle Standards Regulations 1989. Mandatory criteria apply under the scheme. These criteria are outlined below. The criteria are strictly enforced. If you fail to meet the criteria, you will not be eligible to import a vehicle under the scheme.

 

Criteria, ownership of the vehicle

Applicants must satisfy each of the following ownership requirements. You must:

• own the vehicle when submitting the application; and

• have acquired ownership of the vehicle from overseas; and

• have owned the vehicle while overseas; and

• have owned the vehicle for a continuous period of at least 12 months. This is the “qualifying period”.

The qualifying period must have occurred immediately before you (permanently) arrived in Australia.

 

Criteria, use of the vehicle

The vehicle must have been available to you for use in transport. This means that the vehicle must have been available to be driven by you, at all times during the 12 month qualifying period. The vehicle should be registered (in your name) and garaged (proximate to your residence) throughout the 12 month qualifying period, so that you could, if needed, drive the vehicle. In addition, you must have held an appropriate licence to drive the vehicle overseas.

 

Criteria, citizenship and visa requirements

Applicants must fall into one of the following categories. You must:

• have applied to become an Australian citizen; or

• be an Australian permanent resident (eg, hold a permanent visa); or

• have applied to become an Australian permanent resident (eg, applied for a permanent visa); or

• hold a visa that allows you to apply to become an Australian permanent resident (eg, hold a temporary visa that allows you to apply for a permanent visa)

 

In addition, applicants must intend to change their residence. Applicants must have been resident in a foreign country (throughout the qualifying period of 12 months’ ownership and use of the vehicle) but now intend to become Australian residents on a permanent basis and remain in Australia indefinitely.

 

Documents to be provided by the applicant

To apply for a vehicle import approval under the Personal Imports Scheme, you should provide the following (to the Department) in the first instance:

• a completed Application for a Personally Imported Vehicle;

• the application fee – $50 Australian dollars, by cheque, money order or credit card (MasterCard or Visa only). If paying by cheque from overseas, please seek advice from your bank on the correct procedure;

• a copy of your driver’s licence;

• a copy of the purchase documents for the vehicle, in your name;

• a copy of the registration documents for the vehicle (for the qualifying period), in your name;

• a statement of travel. The statement of travel is prepared by you, and itemises any international travel you undertook during the qualifying period. In particular, the statement sets out any absences from your country of residence. If travel was for business reasons, you should supply a letter to that effect from your employer; and

• a copy of your passport (this includes a copy of every page, including blank pages). If you hold dual passports, you should produce a copy of both passports.

 

Applicants may substantiate an intention to remain in Australia indefinitely, by establishing:

• your employment details, such as a letter from your Australian employer;

• a rental agreement / purchase agreement for your residential property in Australia;

• the shipment of your household goods to Australia;

• the enrolment of your children in an Australian school;

• your Australian telephone / electricity accounts;

• the sale of your residential property in your former country of residence;

• the cancellation of your residential rental property in your former country of residence; and

• your resignation from employment in your former country of residence.

 

In addition, foreign citizens settling in Australia may substantiate an intention to remain in Australia

indefinitely, by providing evidence that they have:

• applied for an Australian Tax File Number;

• registered with Medicare;

• applied for Australian medical insurance;

• applied to open an Australian bank account; and

• applied for an Australian driver’s licence.

Importing Vehicles to Australia – Information Brochure (VSB10) 18

 

These lists are a guide. You may also be required to provide further evidence, including:

• a copy of insurance documents for the vehicle;

• copies of other documents that support your purchase of the vehicle (such as bank statements,

receipts from vendors); and

• copies of other documents that show you used the vehicle (such as receipts for any maintenance orrepairs made to the vehicle).

 

You may be required to submit original documentation (not photocopies) to confirm eligibility under the scheme.

 

Form to use for applying for a Personal Import

 

http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/roads/vehicle_regulation/bulletin/importing_vehicles/general/doc/Personal_Import_Application_1109.doc

 

or

 

http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/roads/vehicle_regulation/bulletin/importing_vehicles/general/pdf/Personal_Import_Application_1109.pdf

 

All Import-related information is in here, if you'd like more info:

 

Importing Vehicles to Australia - General Information

 

Is importing worth it? This is the $64m question of course! Going through the importing process for cars is not for the faint hearted, mainly because of the red tape you have to conquer.

 

If you absolutely love your car and can't bear to part with it, then obviously you're going to choose to import it regardless of what I say, and that's fine, I've brought in many cars over the years that don't make any sense from a financial standpoint.

 

If you've heard rumours that bringing cars to Australia is like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, then I would encourage you to do some further research before going through the rigmarole of applying for import approval.

 

If your car is sold in Australia already, then I suggest you check what it is worth here on this website:

 

Car Prices - Search Car Prices & Values Online - Red Book

 

You may well find that you go to an awful lot of effort and expense to bring a car here, only to find that it is worth less here than what it owes you, particularly if it is a fairly basic model.

 

If you're bringing over something more upmarket, then there is potential for profit, particularly if the car you happen to own is a model that can't enter the country any other way and is therefore desirable to astute collectors here. Feel free to ask if you aren't sure whether your car falls into this category.

 

Why are Australian governments such ar$eholes? Dealing with them on a daily basis, I regularly wonder this myself!

 

The personal import regulations have been tightened recently in response to dodgy businesses here rorting the system to make as much money as possible, by contacting ex-pat Aussies living overseas and effectively paying them to have cars registered in their names. This, of course, is not the intention of the scheme - it's not set up so that Aussies can send back cars every year and make money on them.

 

Like most governments, Australian governments have never met a dollar they didn't like, and so when you import any goods over $1000 into Australia, you're going to get hit with 5% stamp duty on the cost of the car and its shipping charges THEN get another 10% GST charged on the cost of the car, its shipping charges and the 5% stamp duty - yes, you pay tax on a tax...

 

Not only that, the state government will also get you for stamp duty of approximately 4% of the vehicle's value when the time comes to register it here. As you can see, they all do quite nicely out of importers.

 

When should I apply for import approval? As soon as you've met the criteria for importing, or as soon as you have your visa. DON'T make the mistake of waiting until you're about to come over to Australia! Our government has a long history of making running changes to legislation without letting anyone know.

 

On the DIT website you'll see something written about 17 working day turnaround times - this is rubbish, expect up to 5 or 6 weeks. The section that processes applications is terminally (and in my opinion deliberately) understaffed, and you see that the 17 day processing time doesn't include peak periods, and they always manage to find a reason for slower processing (at the moment, it's the strong AUD v USD making everyone buy US cars...)

 

Which companies do insurance for personal imports? When most mainstream insurance companies in Australia hear the 'i' word (import), they will smile and show you the door. If your car is a model already sold in Australia, do NOT mention it is a personal import. There's nothing underhanded or illegal about doing this, so don't worry you're not breaking the law, you're just avoiding confusion on their end.

 

If your car is rare or unusual, I recommend Car Insurance for car enthusiasts and owners of classic and vintage cars - Shannons , or if you're under 25 Car Insurance for Young Drivers and Modified Cars - Just Car Insurance In the interests of ethical probity, I have all my cars insured through Shannons - they offer big reductions if you have multiple vehicles or home insurance through them too.

 

Air conditioning - what needs to be done? When you read the Department of Environment and Heritage's website, you'll read that no vehicle can be imported into Australia with R12 gas, which doesn't apply to many people these days.

 

Most of us have R134a, which is still regarded as an ozone-depleting substance, and therefore, to bring a car in with R134a still in the aircon system, the importer must have the appropriate licence to do this - back in the old days, it was only $50 to get the licence, but because of recent changes, it has now jumped to $600. I should point out that the wait to actually get a licence is horrendous too.

 

The alternative is to make sure your air-con is de-gassed before it leaves the UK. I'm not sure what your local mechanic would charge you to do this, but I doubt it would be much more than 20 or 30 pounds. From there, they need to sign the relevant paperwork to show that it has been done (I can send you the form for this), and then you give this form and the tax invoice from the mechanic to your customs broker in Australia. Re-gassing costs around $100AUD so you still end up miles in front compared to getting the $600 licence.

Market value vs customs value -

 

For personal imports, cars are generally valued independently once they arrive in Australia. This is done by a licenced valuer, at a cost of $200 or so (nice work if you can get it!).

 

There is a good reason for this - if you paid $50,000 for your car and had owned it for 5 years, it would be unfair to tax you on the original purchase price. So it makes sense.

 

The valuer is required to provide a customs value, not a market value. In virtually every case, the customs value is a much lower figure than market value.

 

Just for fun, I'll do a hypothetical scenario with a 2007 Jaguar XK convertible, purchased new by whoever is bringing it in.

 

Market value for one sold new in Australia is now $105,000-115,000AUD

 

Customs value (I'm no expert at this, but I know these are the rough figures used for depreciation!)

 

Purchase cost - £69,900 ($158,000 AUD based on an exchange rate of 1AUD=44p back in 2007)

 

Three years' depreciation at 22% per year brings the value down to $75389, THEN another 20% approx is reduced to take into consideration an imported vehicle being worth less than its equivalent locally sold model in Australia.

 

Customs value is $60,311.

 

Like I said, don't quote me on those percentages I've used, but they're in the right ball park, which should help some of you with your calculations for taxes and customs duty.

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hello, i have just purchased a used car and i am in the process of gaining a 457 visa for Oz. can you tell me if the 12 month ownership and use of the vehicle has to be before i actually move over there or could i move there and wait untill 12 months has elapsed and the apply to import the vehicle?

 

thanks

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hello, i have just purchased a used car and i am in the process of gaining a 457 visa for Oz. can you tell me if the 12 month ownership and use of the vehicle has to be before i actually move over there or could i move there and wait untill 12 months has elapsed and the apply to import the vehicle?

 

thanks

 

• hold a visa that allows you to apply to become an Australian permanent resident (eg, hold a temporary visa that allows you to apply for a permanent visa)

 

In addition, applicants must intend to change their residence. Applicants must have been resident in a foreign country (throughout the qualifying period of 12 months’ ownership and use of the vehicle) but now intend to become Australian residents on a permanent basis and remain in Australia indefinitely.

 

On a 457 you can import a car, but you must have owned it for 12 months before getting the visa.

 

Also, if you read the above section, if you are planning to apply for LAFHA, this could create a few problems.

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Hi iron chef, thanks so much for all this information it's most useful.

We are also intending on moving to OZ on a 457 visa with the intention of submitting a 176 application once WA reopens after their smp is announced (fingers crossed motor mechanic is on it and there are enough available places! :o| )

I bought my car in July from new and it's unlikely that it will be over 12 months old when we leave on our 457. Reading your message am I understanding that as we are going out on a temp visa we don't necessarily have to the proof of being in the uk 12 months previous because it is only a temp visa, once we apply and prove to them our intention to seek permanent residency that we can then ship the car regardless of being in OZ for say 6 months?

Sorry if I have not explained myself very well or if I have misunderstood your details!

Thanks

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hello, i have just purchased a used car and i am in the process of gaining a 457 visa for Oz. can you tell me if the 12 month ownership and use of the vehicle has to be before i actually move over there or could i move there and wait untill 12 months has elapsed and the apply to import the vehicle?

 

thanks

 

Hi Karen,

 

You need to have owned and used the vehicle for 12 months BEFORE you come over. It's not enough to just own the car, you have to show evidence that you've been using it too (they ask for a copy of every page of your passport, so it's a bit hard to prove you've been using your car if you're not in the country ;) )

 

Cheers

Kristian

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Hi iron chef, thanks so much for all this information it's most useful.

We are also intending on moving to OZ on a 457 visa with the intention of submitting a 176 application once WA reopens after their smp is announced (fingers crossed motor mechanic is on it and there are enough available places! :o| )

I bought my car in July from new and it's unlikely that it will be over 12 months old when we leave on our 457. Reading your message am I understanding that as we are going out on a temp visa we don't necessarily have to the proof of being in the uk 12 months previous because it is only a temp visa, once we apply and prove to them our intention to seek permanent residency that we can then ship the car regardless of being in OZ for say 6 months?

Sorry if I have not explained myself very well or if I have misunderstood your details!

Thanks

 

Hmmm this is a tricky one - I would err on the side of caution and say that you probably won't qualify to bring your car over as a personal import if you haven't qualified beforehand.

 

There are provisions for tourists/temp visa holders to bring their cars into Australia with them, but only for the purposes of using them while they are in the country, and they must show evidence that the car will be leaving the country again before they get given an import approval. Obviously they can't sell it while they're hear either.

 

The big question is whether or not the time you used your car while you're here on a temp visa qualifies as part of your 12 month qualifying period for a personal import. I suspect the answer would be no, but if you can convince someone in Canberra to say yes, then I'd be very interested to hear about it! Either way you'd have to export and re-import the vehicle, which would be fairly annoying.

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Bah we need an edit function! I wrote 'hear' instead of 'here'!

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Thanks iron chef, I think I'm going to have to call someone to find out more. I doubt very much though that I will be able to take it over. I will let you know if they allow me to. Fingers crossed!

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Thanks Iron Chef for an excellent post.

Has anybody else been left a bit bewildered at the Aussie government's petty attitude to this? After all, it's only a car. What are they trying to achieve? Aus must be a bureaucrat's dream location.

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Thanks Iron Chef for an excellent post.

Has anybody else been left a bit bewildered at the Aussie government's petty attitude to this? After all, it's only a car. What are they trying to achieve? Aus must be a bureaucrat's dream location.

 

If it is only a car, why do you want to import it? Once you answer that question, you will understand the Australian government's attitude.

 

Nice post Iron Chef.

 

Cheers.

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If it is only a car, why do you want to import it? Once you answer that question, you will understand the Australian government's attitude.

 

Nice post Iron Chef.

 

Cheers.

 

My feelings are, if you have decided to move permanentely to Australia as a migrant and have shown this by paying for medicals and getting a permanent visa as well as the cost of shipping all your worldly goods and paying for flights to get there, surely the Australian government could see this and give a little, allowing them to bring their vehicles as a one off move, to these new settlers as a gesture of good will. Its not like they have lived in OZ a few years and are trying to make a fast buck out of importing vehicles.......

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If it is only a car, why do you want to import it? Once you answer that question, you will understand the Australian government's attitude.

 

Nice post Iron Chef.

 

Cheers.

As far as cars are concerned, the taxes added to the costs of transporting make the importing of vehicles financially questionable. Add to this the breaucracy involved which is typical of any Australian government department and it becomes a non-starter for most people.

The point I was trying to make is that the big picture of trying to encourage skilled migration is forgotten as the various government departments wheel out the full bureaucratic machine, which was probably designed to catch dodgy dealings. The argument that they are protecting Australian interests therefore falls down because the greater good is in attracting skilled people who have been trained at another country's taxpayers costs; they don't seem to have developed any guidance on how and when to impose rules. Noting the old bangers I've seen driving around Aus and the absence of an MoT type test, safety arguments won't wash.

I've dealt with a few Aussie companies and they are similar in that they micro-manage daily activities without applying sguidance or without viewing the overall picture. As with the government, they develop some well thought out management tools but then overuse them to control minor issues. Perhaps it is a cultural thing.

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As far as cars are concerned, the taxes added to the costs of transporting make the importing of vehicles financially questionable.

 

There is the answer.

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There is the answer.

The cost disincentives explain why people don't take their cars but do not answer my question regarding the Aus government's petty & small-minded attitude and their inability to see the big picture & to provide incentives to migrants. They don't get the concept of a "goodwill gesture" as suggested by Carlos because there is no associated measurable dollar amount. They understand cost (easy to control) but not value (takes some thinking about).

I've dealt directly with another branch of the Aus government who have the same "cost" mentality, trying to squeeze every last penny out of each situation and not seeing that they are pulling the teets off the cash cow. Small country thinking.

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The cost disincentives explain why people don't take their cars but do not answer my question regarding the Aus government's petty & small-minded attitude and their inability to see the big picture & to provide incentives to migrants. They don't get the concept of a "goodwill gesture" as suggested by Carlos because there is no associated measurable dollar amount. They understand cost (easy to control) but not value (takes some thinking about).

I've dealt directly with another branch of the Aus government who have the same "cost" mentality, trying to squeeze every last penny out of each situation and not seeing that they are pulling the teets off the cash cow. Small country thinking.

 

That is a question you could pose on Chewing the Fat - you'll get a wealth of responses - we (me included) are now dragging this useful thread off track. Apologies to the OP.

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Hi Iron Chef....this is my story. Im living in Ireland with my girlfriend whom is Australian. We will be applying for our spouse defacto visa in June with the hope of heading over come Feb/March 2012. I own a classic merc that is in my dads name for insurance purposes. I can insure it legally but it would mean taking out a new policy and in turn spending of more €€€! The car is going for hibernation next week for a full engine rebuild a bit of tlc and il take it back on the road come April. What would you advise? Should I take out a policy in Feb in my own name and change the book back to my own name? Im Kieran John and my dad is John Kieran (first and second names...not surnames!) so I could just change the name on the book to avoid adding more owners ya know. Its also registered to my dads home address where I was raised but have moved out.

 

My worry is that they will say, no, you dont own the car and you cant proove that you do or that you drive it so you cant bring it in! I will need to do something over the next few months to ensure that doesnt happen though.

 

You advice would be greatly appreciated.....

 

She's the same as this with clear indicators (pride and joy!!) Image - TinyPic - Free Image Hosting, Photo Sharing & Video Hosting

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You MUST be able to prove you have owned and used the vehicle for a full 12 months. If you try to pull the wool over their eyes believe me you will lose the car and get a fine. You must have documentation to prove the car has been in your name and at your address and have been insured for the full 12 months.

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Ok I'll add a few more questions to this thread first...

 

Is importing worth it? This is the $64m question of course! Going through the importing process for cars is not for the faint hearted, mainly because of the red tape you have to conquer.

 

If you absolutely love your car and can't bear to part with it, then obviously you're going to choose to import it regardless of what I say, and that's fine, I've brought in many cars over the years that don't make any sense from a financial standpoint.

 

If you've heard rumours that bringing cars to Australia is like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, then I would encourage you to do some further research before going through the rigmarole of applying for import approval.

 

If your car is sold in Australia already, then I suggest you check what it is worth here on this website:

 

Car Prices - Search Car Prices & Values Online - Red Book

 

You may well find that you go to an awful lot of effort and expense to bring a car here, only to find that it is worth less here than what it owes you, particularly if it is a fairly basic model.

 

If you're bringing over something more upmarket, then there is potential for profit, particularly if the car you happen to own is a model that can't enter the country any other way and is therefore desirable to astute collectors here. Feel free to ask if you aren't sure whether your car falls into this category.

 

Why are Australian governments such ar$eholes? Dealing with them on a daily basis, I regularly wonder this myself!

 

The personal import regulations have been tightened recently in response to dodgy businesses here rorting the system to make as much money as possible, by contacting ex-pat Aussies living overseas and effectively paying them to have cars registered in their names. This, of course, is not the intention of the scheme - it's not set up so that Aussies can send back cars every year and make money on them.

 

Like most governments, Australian governments have never met a dollar they didn't like, and so when you import any goods over $1000 into Australia, you're going to get hit with 5% stamp duty on the cost of the car and its shipping charges THEN get another 10% GST charged on the cost of the car, its shipping charges and the 5% stamp duty - yes, you pay tax on a tax...

 

Not only that, the state government will also get you for stamp duty of approximately 4% of the vehicle's value when the time comes to register it here. As you can see, they all do quite nicely out of importers.

 

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Hi Iron Chef....this is my story. Im living in Ireland with my girlfriend whom is Australian. We will be applying for our spouse defacto visa in June with the hope of heading over come Feb/March 2012. I own a classic merc that is in my dads name for insurance purposes. I can insure it legally but it would mean taking out a new policy and in turn spending of more €€€! The car is going for hibernation next week for a full engine rebuild a bit of tlc and il take it back on the road come April. What would you advise? Should I take out a policy in Feb in my own name and change the book back to my own name? Im Kieran John and my dad is John Kieran (first and second names...not surnames!) so I could just change the name on the book to avoid adding more owners ya know. Its also registered to my dads home address where I was raised but have moved out.

 

My worry is that they will say, no, you dont own the car and you cant proove that you do or that you drive it so you cant bring it in! I will need to do something over the next few months to ensure that doesnt happen though.

 

You advice would be greatly appreciated.....

 

She's the same as this with clear indicators (pride and joy!!) Image - TinyPic - Free Image Hosting, Photo Sharing & Video Hosting

 

Before I go through the long answer, was it built prior to 1989 by any chance?

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The rules for pre 89 cars are very different

 

Correct, that's why I asked ;)

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Ok there are a few links there that I will have to read through. Thanks though.

 

You dont by any chance have a short and sweet story of the pre 89 scheme??!

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Ok the short and sweet version of the pre-1989 rule.

 

Up until about 2005, our commonwealth government allowed cars to come into Australia freely once they'd hit their 15th birthday, with only basic modifications needed for registration (a similar process to personal imports - more on that later). The problem was, there were a number of good Japanese cars built circa-1989 (the Nissan GT-R being the most notable one), and import numbers skyrocketed accordingly.

 

So it was then changed to the pre-1989 rule to stem the flow, and will remain the pre-1989 rule until 2019, when it will then become the 30-year rule. All clear? :)

 

So, in effect, if the car you want to bring over is built prior to 1 Jan 1989, you don't need to go through the rigmarole of applying for it as a personal import, because you can import it under the pre-1989 scheme.

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