Options for Permanent Import of Cars in Australia

Options For Importing Cars in Australia

Vehicles supplied to the Australian market in commercial volumes are certified by their manufacturers as complying with Australian safety and environmental standards and approved to be fitted with identification plates. To protect its auto industry, Australian Government has established a limited number of options for the importation of motor vehicles and trailers to Australia that have not been certified against the National Standards.

The importation of a vehicle which does not comply with National Standards or is not fitted with an identification plate is prohibited unless a Vehicle Import Approval has been issued.  Penalties may apply if you import your road vehicle without a Vehicle Import Approval.  The import options detailed on the following pages have been designed to allow importation outside of commercial certification arrangements. The options are generally focussed on the importation of individual, ‘one-off’ vehicles.  For ease of navigation, the different options have been separated into ‘permanent imports’ and ‘temporary imports’, and there are also links to information on ‘commercial imports’.

You may apply to the Department to import your vehicle. If your vehicle qualifies under one of these options, you will be issued with a Vehicle Import Approval.

The issuing of a Vehicle Import Approval may be subject to certain conditions. These conditions will be made clear when the Vehicle Import Approval is granted and may be unique to the particular vehicle. Breaching any stated conditions is an offence. Offenders may be prosecuted and fined or have their import approval revoked. Other offences relate to the use and supply to the market of vehicles not fitted with identification plates.

Permanent import options

  • Pre-1989 Scheme

    The Pre-1989 Scheme allows for the importation of road vehicles manufactured before 1 January 1989. The scheme is designed to cater for the importation of older enthusiast, classic or historic vehicles.

  • Personal Imports Scheme

    The Personal Imports Scheme allows migrants settling in Australia, and expatriate Australian citizens returning permanently to Australia after a long period overseas, to bring their personal vehicle, owned for the qualifying 12 month period, with them.

  • Returning Australian Vehicles Arrangement

    This option allows road vehicles originally sourced within Australia but subsequently exported to be re-imported.

  • Small Road Trailer Scheme

    This scheme allows for the importation of road trailers that have an Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM) not more that 4.5 tonnes.

  • Large Road Trailer Scheme

    This scheme allows for the importation of road trailers that weigh more than 4.5 tonnes Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM).

  • Race and Rally Vehicle Scheme

    The scheme allows for the importation of vehicles intended to be used for road vehicle rallies and closed circuit road vehicle racing.

  • Letter of Compliance Arrangement

    This arrangement allows for the importation of vehicles which complied with the applicable Australian Design Rules (ADRs) at the time the vehicle was originally supplied to the market overseas.

  • Special Purpose Vehicle Scheme

    This scheme allows for the importation of special purpose vehicles including city utility vehicles (fire tenders, garbage trucks, street sweepers), mobile cranes, mobile drilling rigs, and mobile plant and equipment.

  • Exhibition Vehicle Option

    This scheme allows for the importation of motor vehicles intended to be used primarily for exhibition purposes.

  • Discretionary Approvals

    Special vehicles not covered under other schemes may be approved with discretion in exceptional circumstances, usually with conditions on the approval.

  • Non-Road Vehicles: Off-Road and Non-Transport Equipment Assessment Option

    A ‘non-road vehicle’ (often referred to as ‘non-transport equipment’ and/or ‘off-road vehicles’) refers to a vehicle is not principally designed for this purpose and/or is not permitted to be driven on public roads.

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