How to Import a Car From the UK into Australia.

Roberto Efflandrin

If you’re making the move to Australia from the UK or have an appreciation for British cars, then you might be considering importing a car.

This article will take a look at the process, fees and associated costs of importing a car from the UK to Australia. We’ll also let you know how Wise could save you some money if you need to convert funds between AUD and GBP.

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Is it worth shipping a car to Australia from the UK?

The question of whether it's worth shipping a car from the UK to Australia is really up to you. Here’s some of the factors you may want to consider.

  • Sale value in the UK and Australia
  • Purchase cost in the UK if you’re buying to import
  • Export, shipping and import costs
  • British and Australian government fees
  • Sentimental value
  • Price and availability of parts and servicing
  • Time cost

What are the Australian car import laws?

Australian car import laws are part of the Road Vehicle Standards Act 2018 (RVSA) and accompanying Road Vehicle Standards Rules 2019.¹

The main government department dealing with car importations is the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.²

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

As an individual you’d likely be importing your car under a single road vehicle application, which has three relevant sub-categories.

  • RAV or Concessional RAV entry
  • Non-RAV entry
  • Reimportation

RAV or Concessional RAV entry allows cars to be imported, listed on the Register of Approved Vehicles (RAV) and used on the road. Here’s a few scenarios that fit under this type of application.⁵

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

Non-RAV entry is used for cars that wouldn’t be driven on Australian roads unless there were some extenuating circumstances. Here’s a few examples of what would come under a Non-RAV application.⁵

  • Racing and rally cars
  • Vehicles for public exhibitions or museums
  • Vehicles being used in film, television or advertising productions
  • Test vehicles

Reimportation entry only applies if you’re importing a car that you’d previously exported, i.e. you took your Australian car to the UK and want to bring it back with you.⁵

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

It can become quite expensive to import a car to Australia from the UK. Here’s an idea of some of the fees and costs associated with the process.

Australian Government Charges

The first Australian government fee is for your application to import your car.³ This is what you’ll pay for a passenger vehicle.

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

When your import approved car arrives in Australia you’ll then be liable for some or all of these costs.²

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

Additional Costs

Aside from the Australian government, there are other costs which arise from importing a car from the UK.

  • Shipping from the UK to Australia
  • Shipping insurance
  • Transportation to and from the ports
  • UK 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 what you’ll need to do to import a car from the UK to Australia.

Step 1: Apply to import the vehicle

Create an online account with ROVER then complete the application form and pay the fee.² If you’re not sure which import option applies to your situation, you can check what the government quiz suggests.

Step 2: Wait for approval

You’ll need to wait up to 60 business days for your import application to be approved.³ Once it has been, you’ll get an email from the Australian Government which will include any vehicle conditions that apply.²

Step 3: Arrange shipping

Once you’ve been approved to import your car into Australia it’s time to organise shipping. Before the car is loaded onto the ship you need to take care of these points.²

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

Step 4: Get clearance from Australian customs

When the car arrives in Australia it’ll need to be cleared by Australian customs. To facilitate this you’ll need to lodge an import declaration and pay any applicable taxes and duties.²

Step 5: Pass Australian quarantine

After customs comes quarantine. You’ll need to lodge a Quarantine Entry with the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, and organise a vehicle inspection which you or your representative need to be present for.²

Step 6: Meet approval conditions (if needed)

If your car was imported with conditions you’ll need to take care of them before you can apply for state road registration.² You may need to do some of the following.

  • Organise to have the vehicle modified
  • Gather evidence that the car is compliant
  • Apply to have the car entered on the Register of Approval Vehicles

Buying a car abroad? What are the steps

If you want a certain classic or luxury British car, you may be looking at purchasing it directly from the UK. Here’s a basic overview of how to go about that.

  1. Decide on your budget and the model of car you want.
  2. Find a few viable options that fit within your parameters. For a new car you’d be best looking at dealers, while a second hand car could be found online or through an agent or dealer.
  3. Once you’ve chosen the right car, it’s time to purchase it. You can refer to the UK Government for information about the transfer of ownership and if you’re buying second hand it’s a good idea to run vehicle checks.
  4. After the purchase you can begin preparing to export your car to Australia.

UK Car Sites

If you want to start having a look at what’s available on the UK car market you can try some of these sites.

The ports that can be used to import car from the UK to Australia

UK cars are imported into Australia through international sea ports. When choosing a port, two of the main factors to consider are location and transportation costs.

Here’s a few of Australia’s major general sea cargo ports.

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 the UK to Australia?

The time needed for travel depends on the ports used. As an example, the Port of Felixstowe is one of the main container cargo ports in the UK. Here’s some estimated shipping times from there to Australia.

Origin / DestinationTimeframe⁴
Felixstowe to Sydney33-42 days
Felixstowe to Brisbane30-43 days
Felixstowe to Melbourne36-45 days
Felixstowe to Adelaide39-48 days
Felixstowe to Hobart (via Melbourne)42-51 days
Felixstowe to Perth38-51 days
Felixstowe to Darwin33-41 days

Country specific information to watch out for

  • Depending on where you’re currently based you may have to convert AUD to GBP or vice versa to complete certain parts of the process.
  • It snows in the UK so many second hand cars have been exposed to salt on the road.
  • You can check a car’s Ministry of Transport (MOT) history on the UK Government website - all you need is the number plate.

Wise - Paying internationally the right way

If you decide to go ahead and import your car from the UK, it’s likely that you’ll have to convert currency between GBP and AUD to pay for some of the costs. This is where Wise can help.

Wise enables you to safely and securely send money to the UK to a recipient’s bank or Wise account. You’ll be told any fees upfront and your money is exchanged using the real exchange rate, like you see on Google.

For payments requiring card details, you can use the Wise debit card which is attached to your Wise Multi currency account. There are no account maintenance fees and you can store and convert over 50 different currencies. You’ll also get local account details for 10 of the world's major currencies, including AUD, NZD and GBP.

To see how easy Wise can make things for you, sign up for your free account today.

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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: 19 March 2022

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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