Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

Import options

Safe vehicles reduce road trauma. 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. The 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. It is an offence punishable under the Crimes Act 1914 with a maximum penalty of 120 penalty units plus possible imprisonment (please refer to The Crimes Act 1914 for confirmation of current penalty amounts).

If you ship your vehicle without an Import Approval, your vehicle may be held in Customs bond storage and you may incur further costs including storage. The import options detailed on the following pages have been designed to allow importation outside of commercial certification arrangements. The options are generally focused on the importation of individual, ‘one-off’ vehicles.

You may apply to the Department to import your vehicle. If you or your vehicle qualify 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.

  • The Vehicles Manufactured before 1989 Option allows for the importation of road vehicles manufactured before 1 January 1989. This option is designed to cater for the importation of older enthusiast, classic or historic vehicles.

  • The Personal Import Option 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.

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

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

  • This Option allows for the importation of vehicles intended to be used for road vehicles rallies and closed circuit road vehicle racing and vehicles designed to support road vehicle racing or rallying.

  • This option 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.

  • This option 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.

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

    It is also possible to import exhibition vehicles permanently.

  • 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.

  • This option allows the importation of vehicles for the purpose of having modifications, repair or other work performed on the vehicle. The vehicle is to be re-exported without being used as transport in Australia.

  • This option allows for the importation of road vehicles in either low or full volume including road trailers that weigh more than 4.5 tonnes Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM).

  • This scheme allows for the importation of vehicles for testing to meet certification standards and evaluation of performance in Australian conditions.

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

  • This scheme allows for the importation and supply to the market of used vehicles. Approved Registered Automotive Workshops (RAWs) import, modify and plate used vehicles in accordance with concessional standards.

  • Listing on the Register of Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicles means that vehicles can be imported into Australia under the Low Volume Vehicles Scheme and the Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme.

  • This agreement allows for the importation of road vehicles by military personnel temporarily posted to Australia under the terms of an intergovernmental agreement.

  • This ‘Carnet de Passage en Douane’ is an international agreement which allows the temporary import of a vehicle for up to 12 months by visitors to Australia. The carnet is obtained in the country of residence. Carnet is managed by the Customs and Border Protection Agency.


The information provided on this page should be used as guidance material only for importing a vehicle into Australia. Please familiarise yourself with the relevant legislation prior to lodging an application.

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Last Updated: 18 July, 2014