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Whether you’re a Kiwi looking to move to Australia and wanting to bring your car with you, or an Aussie local looking to catch a better deal across the Tasman, then we’ve got you covered. Here is a general guide on some of the ins and outs of importing a car from New Zealand to Australia.
Through this article, we’ll go through the relevant import laws, some costs associated, the relevant permits and the steps required for the importation of a vehicle from New Zealand. You will also be introduced to Wise, a great alternative to make international payments at a fraction of the cost of local banks. Let’s get right to it.
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The question of whether it is worth the effort and import costs when buying a car or bringing a pre-owned car over from New Zealand, really depends on the individual, any sentimental value attached to a car and more importantly, the type of car looking to be imported. In order to grasp this better, let’s check out Australian car import laws.
Anyone thinking of importing a car to Australia needs to go through a whole lot of approvals from different departments, paying extra duties and taxes, while ensuring the car meets Australia’s strict car import laws and biosecurity standards on arrival.¹
There are four import permit types and anyone importing a car must attain one before they can proceed in organising a car import. The approval permits are as follows²:
- A vehicle type approval (generally for commercial purposes)
- A concessional Register of Approved Vehicles (RAV) entry approval
- A non RAV entry import approval
- A reimportation import approval
Approvals are completed by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (Department of ITRDC). Everyone importing a car must get one of the four permits or be subject to a hefty penalty.¹
There are lists of criteria approved vehicles must meet to be imported into Australia. This list is located on the Department of ITRDC Register of Approved Vehicle (RAV) and ROVER platforms.² The RAV and ROVER platforms can be accessed here and here.
If the car you want to import is not on this list, don't be disheartened because there are other permits that allow for vehicles that meet certain criteria or will be used for certain purposes to be imported. Vehicles that meet criteria may meet eligibility requirements if they are²:
- Modified by a registered automotive workshop
- More than 25 years old
- Imported with an applicant who is moving to Australia
- A special purpose vehicle
- A certain type of trailer
There are several purposes that could make a vehicle eligible for an import permit. Purposes and type of vehicles include:
- Racing or rally cars
- Vehicles for public exhibitions
- Being used in film, TV or advertising
- Are being tested for the Australian market
- Vehicles that have been heavily modified
If you are looking to import a non-road vehicle, you do not require a permit to import the vehicle.²
Just like Australia, New Zealanders also drive with right-hand steering, meaning that unlike imports from other countries, you will be able to save on modification costs in changing the steering side of a vehicle to meet Australian standards, a requirement for vehicles less than 25 years old to be imported successfully.⁵
This makes it less costly for New Zealand citizens to bring their own vehicle from New Zealand on a temporary basis.
This is because Australia allows for temporary residents or tourists that will only be staying in Australia for up to 12 months to bring in a vehicle and be omitted from paying extra duty costs and taxes.¹
There are many costs associated and vary widely when importing a car from New Zealand. Some of fees and costs that can be associated with imports are¹:
- Application fees for import approval and custom clearances
- All pre-shipment costs that include cleaning, transporting, and meeting Australian quarantine requirements
- Extra government taxes and custom duties
- Freight costs with shipping insurance
- Potential storage and delivery charges
- All logistic service costs in New Zealand and in Australia
- Custom broker charges for inspections
- Port charges
- Registration and insurance costs of the car one the car has arrived
Let’s not forget if you are paying in New Zealand’s local currency for any costs, and any international conversion and transaction fees.
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There are 8 steps to import a car into Australia. The steps involved include³:
- Conducting your own deep research (apart from this article) on the approvals required, which vehicles are eligible, the costs involved, the risks involved, the best broker or logistic provider for your location.
- Applying for the valid import permit required for the vehicle you are importing through the Department of ITRDC ROVER system
- Wait to receive an email from the Department of ITRDC with approved or non-approved documents
- If approved, arrange shipping for the vehicle including meeting all custom standards for its arrival
- Pay associated custom duty, GST and LCT taxes through lodging an application of customs clearance declaration to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA)
- Lodge and organise a quarantine inspection with a registered inspector by Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment
- If applicable, arrange for any modifications to be completed and approved, compile compliance evidence and apply for the vehicle to be added to the RAV system
- To be able to legally drive it in your state or territory, organise its registration and insurance with your states own transport authority and pay applicable fees
The first step for buying a car in New Zealand is to start looking online if you can’t make the trip across the Tasman. Some popular sites to buy new, used and unique cars in New Zealand include:
Then you need to find an appropriate broker or third-party import provider that can help you with sourcing, buying and importing the car from New Zealand to Australia. If you are moving and have decided to bring your own car with you, then this will act as your first step. Some logistic companies include:
There are also many more options for online marketplaces and import service providers available. It is key that you perform your own due diligence in terms of your own research to make sure you are making the best decision for you.
Five major ports can be used to receive an imported car from New Zealand to Australia. Ports include Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, and Adelaide.⁴
To get an assessment of your import application and decision from the Department of ITRDC can take up to 60 days.²
Custom clearances can take up to 30 days.¹
Shipping times from New Zealand times have been quoted to take approximately 10 days.⁴
Buying and importing a new or used car from abroad can end up being a costly endeavour, so why not try to minimise fees wherever possible. If you are looking for a way to send money to New Zealand, Wise could be an option. Wisecan help you with this, by offering you low transaction fees and the best exchange rate on international purchase.
Even if you are travelling or are needing to send money abroad, wise makes this easy with its upfront, transparent pricing calculator so you can be sure of the costs, well before you commit to a transfer.
By opening a Wise multi-currency account, you will also have access to a number of other perks that help you spend like a local in some of the top foreign currencies.
- Australian Border Force types of permits and costs
- Department of Infrastructure types of vehicle purposes and criteria
- Department of ITRDC 8 steps of importing a car
- Taurus LogisticsPorts of entry and estimation on shipping
- Queensland Governmentleft hand drive
Sources checked on: 19 March 2022
This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.
We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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