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Introduction to importing a vehicle

Q. What is a Vehicle Import Approval?
A Vehicle Import Approval is a document issued by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development that grants permission for a road vehicle to be imported into Australia. It is required to enable the vehicle to clear Australian Customs.

Q. Why are Vehicle Import Approvals required to bring vehicles into Australia?
Australia's vehicle fleet is among the safest in the world. Australian and international manufacturers invest substantially in the on-going development and maintenance of a safe vehicle fleet. Every vehicle new to Australia should meet minimum standards that maintain this high level of safety. Emissions standards also apply.

Q. How do I know if I need a Vehicle Import Approval?
If you wish to import a vehicle that can be used on Australian roads, you will need a Vehicle Import Approval.

Q. How can I get a Vehicle Import Approval?
To get a Vehicle Import Approval, you should apply under one of several import options.

Q. What is an import option?
There are several specific schemes and arrangements, each with a set of criteria, to enable motor vehicles and trailers to be imported into Australia under a range of circumstances. Examples include, but not limited to options for older vehicles, enthusiast vehicles, special purpose vehicles such as cranes and mining equipment, and the vehicles of migrants and expatriate Australians returning to Australia. For a full list of options, click here.

Q. What happens if I don't qualify under one of the options?
You will not be able to bring your road vehicle into Australia.

It is an offence to import a road vehicle without a Vehicle Import Approval. People doing so may be subject to prosecution.

Q. What happens if I ship my vehicle without a Vehicle Import Approval?
You should not ship your vehicle to Australia without first obtaining a Vehicle Import Approval. Vehicles that arrive in Australia without a Vehicle Import Approval will be held in storage at the port of entry by Australian Customs until an approval is granted. The vehicle owner is responsible for all costs if a vehicle is required to be held in storage. These costs can be very high.

Q. What does storage at a port cost?
Storage costs vary from port to port, but in general are very high. To obtain information on individual port costs you will need contact the port.

Q. What happens if I have shipped my vehicle to Australia, and can't get a Vehicle Import Approval?
If no Vehicle Import Approval is granted, the vehicle owner will be required to pay for the vehicle to be exported or pay for it to be destroyed under the supervision of Australian Customs.

Q. How long does it take to get a Vehicle Import Approval?
A completed application for a Vehicle Import Approval, with all the necessary supporting documentation, will generally be assessed by the Department within 20 working days of receipt. Note that this is a service target and in peak periods it may not be met. If any further information or clarification is required, or if the necessary supporting documentation is not initially provided or if the original application is incomplete, this process will take longer.

If your application includes a vehicle for Test and Evaluation you should allow an additional 28 days for eligibility to be reviewed.

Q. Can I fast track my application?
The Department does not provide a fast track service.

Q. Once I have a Vehicle Import Approval, can I drive the vehicle on Australian roads?
No. Any vehicle driven on Australian roads should first be registered with a State or Territory Registration Authority. Note that obtaining a Vehicle Import Approval is no guarantee that the vehicle will be approved for registration.


Last Updated: 18 July, 2014