A Guide to Importing a Classic British Car to Australia
Are you planning on relocating to Australia?
18:51 27 July 2020
If so, you’d be following in the footsteps of thousands of British people who emigrate each year to ‘the Land Down Under’. There are many reasons why so many hop over to Australia permanently, including an improved quality of life, financial stability, and the enviable year-round weather the country experiences.
Yet even with all of the advantages of making the move, there are still certain home comforts you don’t want to leave behind. While it’s inevitable you can’t take everything, it doesn’t mean you have to avoid bringing big items – such as a classic British car.
If you’re fortunate enough to own a vintage British car, this is certainly something you don’t want to part with prematurely. Fortunately, shipping your vehicle to Australia isn’t as complex as you may believe. The following guide will explain how to import your classic British car to Australia.
As a starting point, there are various different aspects you need to analyse before moving on with the import plan.
First, you need to check if your car is eligible for entry into Australia. Fortunately, if it is a classic motor you’re sending over, you should be covered. The rules state that any vehicle with a manufacture date that falls before January 1st 1989 is free to enter Australia. If your car of choice doesn’t fall under the criteria set by the government, this could lead to expensive modifications, so it’s compliant with emission and safety standards.
Another critical research point is to look at the costs involved with importing. There are many different expenses before, during, and after that, you need to consider. These include:
- Permit application
- Customs duties
- Quarantine inspection costs
- Insurance requirements
By gaining an understanding of all these costs, you have a better overall picture of just how much the importing will cost. When you total it up, you could realise that it’s too expensive for what it’s worth. Instead, you may decide to sell your classic car in the UK and then search for the same model again once in Australia.
Receive Vehicle Import Approval
Before you can even think about shipping your vehicle to Australia, you need to receive Vehicle Import Approval (VIA). If you do not have a VIA issued, you’re not legally permitted to import the car.
To begin with, acquiring your VIA, you first need to register with the import approval department and complete the online application form. Note: there’s an application fee of $50. Sadly, you could be waiting four-to-six weeks until your application is processed and approved.
Only select groups of people will actually be granted import approval. This includes private individuals who possess a full residency visa, as well as Australian or New Zealand nationals who are authorised to drive a motor vehicle in Australia.
Are you arriving in Australia before shipping your classic car? In this case, you must complete the VIA application within six months of your entry into the country.
Give your car a clean
This may seem like a fairly innocuous point, yet it actually plays an essential step in the importing process. This is because you have to prepare your car for quarantine inspection once it reaches Australia. Every vehicle is checked over by the DAFF, aka the Australian Department for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
Their inspection is done to ensure no biosecurity risks are brought into the country. They also state it is the “importer’s responsibility” their vehicle is clean, and any potential risks are removed prior to being shipped to Australia.
As a result, you need to give your classic car a thorough clean. It’s likely this is already part of your routine as part of the vehicle’s maintenance, but there are certain areas which can be easily overlooked. For instance, the wheels and tyres – as well as the mudguards and wheel arches – are breeding grounds for dirt.
If you don’t feel comfortable in having the ability to make the car spotlessly clean, there’s always the option of hiring a professional car valeting company to do the job.
Although it’s not directly linked to cleaning, there’s another element of your car that may require attention: the air conditioning. If you have installed an air conditioning system into your classic car, this might need to be degassed before it is shipped. This is because specific systems feature gasses that are prohibited in Australia.
Use a professional outlet for shipping
Once you’ve received VIA and the vehicle is fully prepared, it’s time to plan the most integral part of the process: shipping.
You have the option of doing this on your own. However, there are so many different facets to take into account when it comes to shipping. Plus, as mentioned above, it’s the most critical piece of the puzzle. Going it alone is particularly complex for first timers, and any mistakes could lead to a multitude of issues down the line.
Due to this, it’s integral that you bring in a shipping company to do the heavy lifting. Yet you don’t want to hire any old outfit you come across. You want to enlist the services of a professional shipper that has a strong reputation. For example, Autoshippers has over 20 years of experience importing British cars to countries across the world.
By picking a professional shipping company, you can benefit in several different ways. First of all, you know you’re going to receive a competitive price for moving your car overseas. Perhaps most importantly, you are supplied with expert guidance with regards to customs and import regulations.
Gain customs clearance
Once your classic motor has landed in Australia, there’s still work to be done. Now you have to gain customs clearance before you can drive off in your vehicle.
This includes having to pay import duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST). At least, the regular vehicle shipped to Australia has to deal with import duty. This isn’t actually a factor for vehicles that over 30 years old – which should mean your classic car is exempt. With that said, there’s still a 10% GST fee to pay. The 10% is used against the Value of the Taxable Importation (VoTI) of your vehicle.
Register the car
When your car has gained customs clearance, there’s only one step left before you can start driving your vintage motor around Australia. This step involves your vehicle being analysed by the Motor Vehicle Registration service in your relevant State/Territory. Think of this being like an MOT. They will examine your vehicle in many different areas and, assuming everything is fine, they will issue the car a roadworthiness certificate.
Once you have the certificate, you need to go to the registration counter. When you’ve paid the fees for the registration and vehicle examination, you will be issued a registration label. This label needs to be placed on your car’s windscreen. At the same time, you’ll also be supplied with Australian number plates. As these are specifically assigned to your car, they need to be applied straight away.
When the registration is complete, you are finally free to take your classic car home.
The process of moving your classic car to Australia is not only pricey – it’s also laborious as the previous steps demonstrate. Yet if the vehicle is one of your most prized possessions, it makes sense why you’d go to the trouble of importing it to your new home overseas.