To protect our Australian car market our government has set up a complex set of rules and regulations to heavily restrict the import of vehicles into Australia. To try and understand the laws in full would take pages and pages of information so we will do our best to summarise the basics below.

You first step when importing is to gain an import approval, the type of import approval depends on the circumstances surrounding the import. For the purpose of this article we will focus solely on vehicles intended to be registered for use on Australian roads.

  • If the vehicle is manufactured before the 1st of January 1989 then there are no restrictions, you will simply need to apply for a vehicle import approval which should be granted on the basis that the vehicle is pre 89. See the following link –
  • If the vehicle is manufactured after 1989, then it needs to be imported under the Australian Governments ‘Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme’ (RAWS) ( – It means the vehicle MUST be on the RAWS list ( and then if you choose to import, the import approval will need to be arranged by one of the Registered Workshops approved by the Australian Government who will also need to be the workshop that complies the vehicle for use on Australian roads.
  • The exception to this rule is if the vehicle has been owned and used by you as an individual for in excess of 12 months in a foreign country. If this is the case, then you can apply for a ‘personal import approval’ which allows you to import a vehicle and bypass the RAWS requirements on newer model vehicles. More information on personal imports on the following link –


Unless the vehicle is a returning vehicle, then there is no way to bypass paying Australian import tax.

If the vehicle is less than 30 years old, then both duty of 5% and GST of 10% will be applicable. If the vehicle is worth more than AUD 75,526 (The 2017 luxury car tax threshold) then it will also incur LCT at a rate of 33% for every dollar over this amount.

If the vehicle is older than 30 years old then no duty applies, although GST of 10% will still be applicable along with LCT if the value is above the LCT threshold.

Confused yet?


The customs value is ascertained by using the Bill of Sale in the event of an overseas purchase, although when it comes to personal imports the value is ascertained via a customs valuation on the vehicle. The valuation itself costs AUD 300.00 and then tax is payable on the assessed Australian market value.


There are other factors you need to consider when looking to import as well, our government restricts in the import of pre charged gas, meaning that depending on the year, make and model of the vehicle the air conditioning may need to be degassed prior to export from the foreign country.

They have also recently introduced new laws regarding asbestos, you now need to check to ensure that no part of the vehicle contains asbestos (brakes/clutch plates/gaskets etc) and you will need to sign a declaration confirming this. If you find that any part of the vehicle contains a part which contains asbestos, this needs to be removed and changed prior to shipping.


In short, under specific circumstances it is possible to import vehicles into Australia however there are a lot of hoops to jump through, there are no tax concessions and the whole process can be quite costly. It was originally set up in this manner to protect our Australian car market (Holden and Ford) but since they have both since stopped manufacturing vehicles on Australia soil all these hoops to us seem to be pointless. This issue is currently being debated through Australian Parliament but for the moment this complex, outdated system is what we need to work with.