Importing Vehicles

<strong><em>Find out the details of importing vehicles into Australia...</em></strong>

Temporary Imports

Under a Carnet de Passages en Douane, a vehicle can be temporarily imported into Australia for up to 12 months.  A carnet is similar to a passport: it contains all of the vehicle's relevant information, and must be presented to customs officials on arrival. Carnets are available for motor vehicles, motorbikes, camper vans, caravans, trailer and four wheel drive vehicles. They can be obtained from motoring officials and insurers in the importer's home country.

The vehicle may not be lent or sold during the 12 months in Australia, and must be exported on or before the expiry date on the carnet. The vehicle may not remain in Australia if the owner is not in the country.

The Personal Imports Scheme

Cars can also be imported into Australia under the Personal Imports Scheme, which allows foreigners settling in Australia to bring a vehicle with them. The scheme applies only to individuals and cannot be used by businesses. The car must have been owned and used by the applicant for the 12 months prior to their arrival in Australia. To be able to use the scheme, applicants must be permanent residents of Australia or intend to remain there.

Before a vehicle can be legally brought into Australia, it must receive import approval.  An eight-step outline of the full importation process can be found on the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport's website.  The following documentation is needed to apply:

  • A copy of the applicant's driving licence
  • Vehicle registration documents (in the applicant's name) for the 12 months prior to arrival
  • A copy of the applicant's passport (every page must be included)
  • A copy of the vehicle purchase documents in the applicant's name
  • A copy of the applicant's Australian visa
  • A statement of travel prepared by the applicant. It should outline any international travel undertaken while they owned the vehicle in the preceding 12 months
  • A completed copy of form IO1: Click here
  • Evidence outlining intent to remain in Australia. Suitable documentation for this is clearly outlined on part six of form IO1

All documents should be in English or translated into English. Official translations into English can only be performed by someone registered with the National Accreditation Authority for Translators.

  • For further information on translation services: Click here

The outcome of an import approval application should be given within 15 days of the request, and clear reasons will be given should the application be denied. When personal import approval has been gained, the applicant will receive four copies of the approval paperwork:

  1. One allows the vehicle to clear customs when it enters Australia
  2. One is to obtain a personal import plate
  3. One is for the state or territory registering authority
  4. One copy should be kept with the vehicle

As of 18 November 2010 residents are only allowed to import one vehicle every five years using the Personal Imports Scheme.

The Pre-1989 Scheme

If the car was manufactured before 1 January 1989, it will be covered by the Pre-1989 Scheme.  In addition to the documents required by the Personal Imports Scheme, the following will be needed:

  • A clear photograph of the vehicle in its present state
  • Picture ID of the importer or reponsible officer
  • A list of any modifications made with evidence of when the work was undertaken
  • Full mechanical details of the vehicle
  • A completed copy of form IO2: Click here


On arrival in Australia all imported vehicles will be thoroughly inspected by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service. This can be arranged by contacting their regional office at the intended port of entry.

To pass customs inspection imported vehicles must be completely clean and free of all quarantine risk material before entering Australia. Risk materials include live insects, seeds, animal and plant matter, food waste and organic debris.

Vehicles that do not meet quarantine requirements will be sent for cleaning at the importer's expense.

Personal Import Plates

A personal import plate is official proof that the car has been legally imported and can be registered. At this stage the vehicle must comply with the Australian Design Rules, and any necessary modifications will have been undertaken. The vehicle will be inspected and a statement of compliance signed. Some authorities will do these themselves, while others will refer the applicant to an authorised signatory to do it.

The original signed statement of compliance must then be sent to the plate contractor. Plates are usually fitted to the firewall of cars and the frame head on motorcycles. There is a charge for this, which is payable to the plate contractor. Plates are not required for cars built prior to 1 January 1989.

Motorbikes and Scooters

Motorbikes and scooters can be imported into Australia. Import approval is needed to bring motorbikes, motorised scooters, and pocket bikes into the country. Import approval may be given for off-road bikes if they comply with Australian Design Rules. Motorised pedal cycles with a power output lower than 250W are not required to comply with Australian Design Rules.
Motorbikes need to be quarantine checked at customs when they arrive in Australia, and will need to be cleaned to the appropriate standard.

Further Information