Importing a race, rally or exhibition vehicle

Australians love a good car race and checking out rare or high performance vehicles.

There’s usually a full calendar of exhibitions and motorsport events being held each year around the country, such as the world’s longest tarmac rally – Targa Tasmania, rounds of the World Rally Championship and a Formula One Grand Prix.

These events attract international attention and vehicles are brought in from around the world to compete or be exhibited.

International vehicles that come here to be raced or exhibited need an import approval. The approval process for importing race, rally and exhibition vehicles is quite straightforward.

This article explains how to import vehicles for race, rally or exhibition purposes, that aren’t being imported for general use on the road.

Who can apply to import a vehicle for a race, rally or exhibition?

Anyone can. If you want to, you can engage an agent to apply for you, but they’ll need an authority to act on your behalf.

How do I import a race, rally or exhibition vehicle?

Under the Road Vehicle Standards (RVS) laws, which took full effect on 1 July 2021, you’ll need to apply for a non-RAV entry import approval if you want to import a vehicle that:

  • won’t be used on public roads, or
  • will only be used on public roads in exceptional circumstances, or
  • will only be used for a limited time.

This includes race, rally and exhibition vehicles.

A non-RAV entry import approval allows the following to be imported:

  • race and rally vehicles (including support vehicles)
  • exhibition vehicles not generally available in Australia (meaning they aren’t available to buy in Australia, are hard to get because of their rarity or there’s a long waiting time to get them)
  • vehicles used in films, TV or advertising
  • testing or market evaluation vehicles
  • significantly modified vehicles (a hot rod, for example)
  • vehicles that will only be imported temporarily.

Information required for your vehicle import application

It’s a good idea to gather the information you need before starting your application.

You’ll need to provide the following:

  • the type of vehicle, (car, motorbike, truck, trailer, etc.) make, model and year of manufacture
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) or chassis number
  • clear, well-lit photos of the vehicle taken from the front, rear and side
  • details of any breaches of road vehicle legislation (or breaches that may have been made) by the applicant (you)
  • the period of time the vehicle will be required in Australia.

You’ll also need to confirm that the vehicle won’t be used on a public road, or only used on a public road in exceptional circumstances. An exceptional circumstance could be, for example, where a vehicle is only used in a tarmac rally where the road is temporarily closed to general traffic while the rally is held.

You can show this by providing:

  • an approval from your relevant state or territory authority to use the vehicle on a public road in exceptional circumstances
  • a declaration on your application that you are seeking an approval from your relevant state or territory authority, or
  • a declaration on your application that the vehicle will not be used on a public road.

You’ll also need to provide some specific information about why you’re importing your vehicle.

If your vehicle will be part of a public exhibition – you’ll need to give details of the exhibition, including a document authorising the vehicle’s use in the exhibition, for example, a letter from the organisers indicating your vehicle will be part of the exhibition.

If your vehicle will be used in a race or rally – you’ll need to provide competitor information, including club membership and details of the event or series name, including the organiser and location. You’ll also need to give details of whether your vehicle is a race, rally or support vehicle and include features to show its suitability as that type of vehicle.

More information is available in the department’s Guide to non-RAV entry import approvals.

When to submit an application

A non-RAV entry import application is assessed within 30 business days from the date it is submitted and the application fee has been paid. However, if more information is required to assess your application, it may take longer. So please allow plenty of time to submit your application to ensure you have your approval before you import your vehicle. Otherwise you may find yourself facing delays and storage fees when it arrives in Australia.

How to submit a non-RAV entry import approval application

All import approval applications need to be made in ROVER – the department’s online RVS applications and approvals portal.

First, you’ll need to create a ROVER account and provide 100 points of identification to verify your identity. Verification may take a couple of weeks.

Once your account is verified, you can start your application.

In ROVER, you should select the ‘New Applications’ tab, then select ‘Single Road Vehicle Approvals’. 

ROVER New Applications screen image

Next, fill in the questions on the ‘Vehicle use’ page. For example, the vehicle type (e.g. make, model and year of manufacture).

You should answer ‘No’ to the question ‘Will the vehicle be used on public roads?’ even if the race or rally vehicle you are importing might be used on a public road in an exceptional circumstance like the example provided above.

This will direct you to the question, ‘For what purpose will the vehicle be used in Australia?’

Here you can indicate if it is for a race or rally, or for a public exhibition.

After completing these questions, ROVER will generate an application number and create a draft non-RAV entry approval application in your ROVER account. You can continue the application at this point or exit ROVER and return to it later.

Once you’ve filled in all the details and checked they are correct, submit the application and pay the application fee. Until the fee is paid, your application won’t be assessed.

If your application is granted, you’ll be provided with documentation confirming the approval and that the vehicle is permitted to be imported into Australia.

Useful links