How to Transport a Vehicle from Australia

How to Transport a Vehicle from Australia


Australia and the USA share a similar love for large, powerful cars and trucks. This is perhaps due to the wide open spaces in both countries, just begging to be explored by a motor vehicle. Yet there are certain models that you can only find in each country. If you’ve read a Holden Captiva review and are interested in bringing this model into the USA, or found a great deal on a Ford Ranger and want to bring it back to Australia, there are a few factors to keep in mind. There are strict import and shipping regulations in place in both countries which must be met.

Bringing a Car to Australia

Travellers who want to bring their car into Australia on a short-term basis, such as for a road trip, can apply for a Carnet. These are similar to a personal passport and are valid for 12 months from the date of issue. You’ll have to apply for a Carnet before you arrive in Australia. Expect to put a security deposit down of 100% of the market value of your vehicle, and you’ll have to pay high fees should you break any Customs regulations. It’s also worth looking at local car listings sites such as to see if you can find a cheap used model to drive temporarily, as this may cost less than the customs and security fees.

If you’re looking for something more long-term, it’s possible to apply for a Vehicle Import Approval provided that the make and model meets all of the government safety standards. You will need to send your application, supporting documents, and all fees off to the Department of Infrastructure and Transport.  The car will need to pass through Customs and you can expect to pay a Goods and Service Tax, Luxury Car Tax if applicable, and Customs duty. The car will need to be inspected by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service. Provided the car meets all criteria, you can go ahead and apply for license plates and register your vehicle.

Importing a Car into the USA

The USA also has strict regulations in place when it comes to importing vehicles. Before any car can be brought into the USA, you must ensure that it complies with all current government regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) puts restrictions on factors like carbon emissions according to the Clean Air Act, while the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates safety and bumper standards. These agencies both put forth extremely detailed compliance requirements that are regularly updated, so it’s worth visiting both of their websites before planning your import. Some cars can be modified to meet the requirements, but other high-speed sports cars are banned outright.

If a car is less than 25 years old and is found to be non-compliant with these terms, it must be brought into compliance, exported, or destroyed. There is a bit more leeway given for classic cars. Vehicles that are older than 25 years are exempt from the EPA and DOT requirements. However, you’ll still need to fill out the same paperwork and hand this to a Customs and Border Protection agent to get through Customs.

Preparing a Car for Shipping

Once you’ve ensured that your car is eligible for import to or from Australia, you’ll want to prepare it for shipping. It’s best to have the vehicle steam cleaned in order to reduce the chances of it falling under any quarantine risk, and to remove personal or flammable items before shipping.

Consider hiring an auto transport company to have your vehicle delivered to the nearest port. Be sure to remove all of your personal belongings from the car; any items not attached to your vehicle cannot be shipped with it.

Author Info:

Rachel MacDonald is a freelance writer specialising in travel, cars, and the Australian automotive industry. She works with one of Australia’s top car listings sites.

About the Author: LaurineBlint



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