How to Import a Car From Japan To Australia

Roberto Efflandrin

If you're moving to Australia from Japan or are a Japanese car enthusiast you might be wondering just how hard it is to import a car from Japan to Australia.

In this article we’ll explore what there is to know about importing a Japanese car to an Australian location, looking at the laws, processes, associated costs and time.

We’ll also let you know how Wise can help make the payments side of things a little cheaper and easier.

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Is it worth shipping a car to Australia from Japan?

Whether it's worth shipping a Japanese car to Australia is really up to you. You need to decide whether the time and money it would involve is worth it for you to be able to have the car. Here’s a few things to consider.

  • Export, shipping and import costs
  • Purchase costs
  • Sale value in Japan if you already own the car
  • Value in Australia
  • Sentimental value
  • Collectors value
  • Modification costs
  • Price and availability of parts
  • Time cost

What are the Australian car import laws?

Whether a car can be imported into Australia is governed by the Road Vehicle Standards Act 2018 (RVSA)¹ and accompanying Road Vehicle Standards Rules 2019.

The government agency responsible for approving a car for import is the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.²

Is there an approved list of vehicles that can be imported?

It’s likely that your car would be imported under a single road vehicle application. This type of application has two sub-categories of vehicles that can be approved for first time importation.⁵

  • RAV or Concessional RAV entry
  • Non-RAV entry

RAV or Concessional RAV entry allows certain cars to be imported and entered onto the Register of Approved Vehicles (RAV). Here are some of the cars covered by this type of application.⁵

  • Vehicles that meet the Australian Road Vehicle Standards
  • Vehicles older than 25 years
  • Vehicles that are imported when the applicant moves to Australia
  • Vehicles that will be modified by a registered automotive workshop to meet the Australian Road Vehicle Standards

A Non-RAV entry is used for cars that wouldn’t be used on the road in Australia unless there was a special authorised reason. The vehicles that come under this type of approval include the following.⁵

  • Race cars
  • Rally cars
  • Vehicles going in public exhibitions or museums
  • Vehicles being used in a film or television production
  • Test vehicles

What are the types of fees and costs to import a car from Japan to Australia?

There are quite a few fees and costs associated with importing a car from Japan to Australia. Here’s some of the common charges, but keep in mind this list is not exhaustive.

Australian Government Charges

When you apply to import a car into Australia you’ll need to pay the application fee. These are the fees that apply if you’re importing a passenger vehicle.³

International Whole Vehicle Type Approval (IWVTA) passenger vehicle$650 AUD
Non-IWVTA passenger vehicle$950 AUD

Once you’ve received approval and your car has reached Australia, there are a few other government charges you’ll need to pay.²

  • Customs duty
  • Goods and Services Tax (GST)
  • Luxury Car tax (if applicable)
  • State vehicle registration

Additional Costs

Here’s some of the additional costs outside the Australian government that can be associated with importing a car from Japan.

  • Shipping costs
  • Transportation to and from the port
  • Japanese government fees
  • Export/import agent fees
  • Costs to ready the car for import
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What are the steps to take to import a car into Australia?

Here’s the steps you’ll need to take to import your car from Japan to Australia.

Step 1: Apply to import the vehicle

Create an account with ROVER and complete the online application form.² You can see which import option may be best for your circumstances by using the government quiz. Once the form is complete you’ll need to pay the application fee.

Step 2: Wait for approval

Your initial application to import your vehicle can take up to 60 business days to be approved.³ The approval will be emailed by the Australian Government and may include some vehicle conditions.²

Step 3: Arrange shipping

Once you have your approval you can organise to have the car shipped to Australia. You just need to make sure these things have been taken care of.²

  • Vehicle has been steam cleaned
  • Air-conditioning gas has been removed (if needed)
  • Asbestos testing and removal has been completed (if needed)

Step 4: Get clearance from Australian customs

On arrival to Australia your vehicle needs to be cleared by customs. You’ll need to lodge an import declaration and pay any Australian taxes or duties that are owed.²

Step 5: Pass Australian quarantine

Next, you need to lodge a Quarantine Entry with the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, and arrange for an inspection of the vehicle.² You or your broker will need to be present for the inspection.

Step 6: Meet approval conditions (if needed)

If your car has conditions for import you might need to do some or all of the following.²

Once your car is imported you can go ahead and start applying for state road registration.

Buying a car abroad? What are the steps

If you have your eye on a new or second hand Japanese car you’ll need to know how to buy a car in Japan. Here’s a basic overview.

  1. Decide the budget and model of car.
  2. Find some viable options to purchase. A new car may be easiest to get through a dealer while second hand cars could be found online or through an agent.
  3. Once you’ve chosen the right car it’s time to purchase it. Second hand classic cars and sports cars are often bought through online stores or auctions using a representative.
  4. After the purchase, prepare to export the car to Australia.

Here’s a few companies who could help you with buying a car in Japan. It’s a good idea to see if their reputation, services and pricing meets your expectations.

The ports that can be used to import car from Japan to Australia

Japanese cars are imported through Australian international sea ports. It’s best to see which ports are closest to you and choose the one that makes the most sense financially.

As a starting point, here are some of Australia’s major seaports for general cargo.

New South WalesPort of Sydney, Port Botany
QueenslandPort of Brisbane, Port of Townsville
VictoriaPort of Melbourne
TasmaniaPort of Burnie, Port of Devonport
South AustraliaPort Adelaide
Western AustraliaFremantle Ports
Northern TerritoryPort of Darwin

How long does it take to ship a car from Japan to Australia?

Here’s some estimated shipping times between Tokyo, Japan and Australia. Keep in mind these are subject to availability and can be impacted by world events.

Origin / DestinationTimeframe⁴
Tokyo to Sydney23-31 days
Tokyo to Brisbane20-27 days
Tokyo to Melbourne26-34 days
Tokyo to Adelaide22-36 days
Tokyo to Hobart (via Melbourne)33-42 days
Tokyo to Perth16-28 days
Tokyo to Darwin18-25 days

Country specific information to watch out for

Here’s a few tips that are specifically related to importing a car from Japan.

  • If you’re paying people directly in Japan you’ll need to convert your AUD to Japanese Yen (JPY).
  • Japanese cars from regions where it snows have likely been exposed to salt on the road.
  • Historically, smoking in cars was common in Japan and some second hand cars reflect this.
  • If you’re buying from an auction house make sure you check the car's grade against the Japanese Automotive Standards Organisation.

Wise - Paying internationally the right way

If you decide to import your next car from Japan it’s likely you’ll have to make some payments in Japanese Yen. This is where Wise can help.

With Wise you can safely send money to Japan with no hidden fees. Your AUD is exchanged for JPY using the real exchange rate, then sent on to the recipient’s bank or Wise account.

If you need to pay using a debit card, you can get a Wise Multi currency account which is attached to the Wise debit card. There are no monthly account fees and you can store, convert and send over 50 different currencies.

To see how easy Wise is, sign up for your free account today - registration can be done in minutes!

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  1. Australian Government: Road Vehicles Standards laws
  2. Australian Government: 8 steps to importing a vehicle
  3. Australian Government: Guide to vehicle type approvals
  4. Hapag-Lloyd: Interactive Schedule
  5. Australian Government: Importing a road vehicle into Australia
    Sources checked on: 22 March 2022

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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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