How to Avoid Pitfalls When Importing a Car from the US to Australia

Last Updated on August 16, 2015 by Jasper Austin

There are many steps involved when importing used American cars. Different car models and makes have different regulations imposed on them by Australian customs. You can make the importing a used American car a simpler process by researching how importing works in advance.

Research Before You Buy

When you import a used American car to Australia, you must follow strict customs guidelines. The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development website has a tool to help you discover what rules apply to your specific vehicle. It can also help you understand the restrictions placed on various import cars, information that can help you make an informed buying decision. You can also learn the costs associated with importing cars from the USA. To finance your import you will also need to find lenders who specialize in import financing. They can also help source funding if you have bad credit.

Apply to Import Your Car

In order to complete your used car import, you must first obtain a vehicle import approval (VIA). It is critical that you have this permit before your vehicle arrives, as customs will seize your vehicle and charge you hefty storage fees otherwise. They can also fine the freight forwarder; make the importer send the car back to its origin; or discard the vehicle.

Once Customs Approves You

A VIA application can take four to six weeks for processing and approval. In order to receive approval, you must reside in Australia or have an Australian residency visa — unless manufactures built the car before 1989 — in which case these rules do not apply. After you receive your VIA, customs will forward your import permit, along with any additional information.

Hire an Importer

Now that you have the necessary customs clearance, you must arrange to have your car cleaned and prepared for shipping. A well-established importer can help you make these arrangements. A good importer will also help you avoid common mistakes made when importing used cars from the USA.

Pass Customs Inspection

After your used car has left its origin, it is time for you to register an import declaration with customs. You can do this on the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service Branch website or have your importer handle this task. When the car arrives, you will have to present the required paperwork as well as pay duties and taxes to have it released.

Pass Quarantine Inspection

When your used car leaves its starting point, you must also register an import.

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