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Shipping a Car to Australia

Posted by By Bournes International Moves - March 30, 2017


One of your considerations when moving to Australia whether to ship your car. This is understandable; why change your car just to spend more money on a new one at the other end? But is it really that simple?

Unfortunately, it is actually more complicated than you might have first thought. Especially when moving Down Under.

things to consider about shipping a car to Australia

1) The vehicle must have been owned and used by the applicant for a continuous period of 12 months prior to the move.

2) The vehicle must be in a right hand drive configuration.

3) The speedometer has to be converted from mph to km/h.

And then there’s the paperwork. At both ends. Moving a vehicle abroad is almost an entirely separate entity to moving the contents of your house and needs to be treated as such; you can’t just turn up at the dock and drive your car onto the ship, however tempting that might seem.

Under the Personal Imports Scheme, bringing a vehicle into Australia requires you to declare that you have either applied to become an Australian resident or have a visa that allows you to make that application at a later date. Your vehicle must then adhere to a strict set of rules on emissions and safety, which could be a costly process considering the work that might be needed.

Speaking of cost, if none of the above fazes you, then that’s the next thing to sit down and work out. How old is your car? Could you get a reasonable price for it if you sold it here? Would that be enough to buy an equivalent vehicle in Australia? Will the cost of shipping the car outweigh the value of it in total? Don’t forget you also need to add up the cost of shipping plus the value of the vehicle as it stands and weigh that up against the average cost of buying a new one.

Evaluating the costs/benefits of shipping a car to Australia

Budget – who is paying for the move? If it’s coming out of your own pocket then every penny counts. If it’s a corporate move and your company is covering the costs then they might have budgeted enough for you to take your vehicle.

Lifestyle – Will you actually need a car to get around? What kind of area are you moving to? Is it within walking distance of shops/on a good public transport route? Does a spouse or partner need an additional car for work/school run/daily errands, etc?

Cost of buying again – Second hand cars in Australia are actually pretty expensive when compared to those in the UK. This is generally attributed to the fact that the Australian climate is more accommodating and less damaging to vehicles overall, meaning they tend to last a bit longer.

Urgency – Once it finally gets to Australia, your car will be held by Customs until they’ve processed and cleared it. This could be a matter of days, or it could be several weeks; there’s no way of knowing. Plus, you also need to arrange for your car to be inspected, a ‘Roadworthy Test’ needs to be carried out, Personal Import Plates need to be ordered, and new registration plates and insurance taken care of. And all of this might differ depending upon the part of Australia you’re moving to. What impact will not having access to your vehicle immediately have on starting your new life?

Manual versus automatic – Automatic and semi-automatic cars are much more common in Oz. This is definitely something to bear in mind if you’re planning to take a manual car; demand for manuals are less, meaning it might be harder to sell one should you need to.

The general consensus is that it’s simply not worth importing a vehicle Down Under unless it’s a luxury or classic that will increase in value over time – although you still need to be careful here; after a certain value you face paying duties on these types of car under the Luxury Car Tax scheme.

Customs rules regarding asbestos

In 2017 the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service announced new rules relating to the import of motor vehicles when it comes to asbestos.

Asbestos is one of the many items strictly prohibited from import by the Australian Government, who deem the substance a threat to the country's biosecurity. While the majority of newly manufactured cars should be completely free from the matter, asbestos can lurk in the brake pads, clutch pads and gaskets of older vehicles.

It will now be the sole responsibility of the vehicle's owner to make sure their import has had the necessary checks for asbestos and that any components found to contain it are completely replaced. Evidence must then be provided to your import broker and Australian Border Force officials that the checks have been made and any changes have taken place.

Failure to comply with this will result in a lengthy delay in releasing the vehicle, as well as heavy fines.


In short, there’s a LOT to consider when getting your vehicle to Australia; don’t underestimate the time and patience involved in the process.

For more detailed information on the restrictions and regulations involved in shipping a car to Australia, please click here.

Find out more about our Vehicle shipping services or complete Removals to Australia

Topics: Australia, Vehicle Moving

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