Import Car from USA to Australia

Importing a Car from the USA to Australia

Importing a Car from the USA to Australia? Car imports from the USA to Australia start at a cost of $1,195 USD with an estimated turnaround time of 28 – 50 days, depending on make and model of the vehicle, the nearest departure port in the United States, and your final destination in Australia. Below, our 2020 guide will explore everything you need to know about importing cars from the USA to Australia.

Car Shipping from USA to Australia
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from the USA to Australia?

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Want more information on car import services to Australia from the USA?

Read on below for our US to Australia Import Shipping Checklist, Vehicle Import Options, US to Australia Car Import Costs & Time Frame, US to Australia Vehicle Import Options, Ports Served in the US & Australia, and other details on how to Import Car from USA to Australia.


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US to Australia Vehicle Import Checklist

Here’s a rough breakdown of the process you’ll need to go through to import your vehicle to Australia.
  • Determine your vehicle’s eligibility for import under the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development’s vehicle import options
  • After you’ve determined that your vehicle is eligible and selected an import option, apply for a Vehicle Import Approval
  • Understand the costs of importing a vehicle, including:

    • Freight and insurance charges when importing your vehicle

    • Wharf, transport, storage and delivery charges after your vehicle arrives

    • Duties, taxes and fees, including Australia’s GST (Goods and Services Tax) and LCT (Luxury Car Tax)

    • Cleaning charges (for biosecurity, to prevent introduction of invasive species)

    • Registration and insurance requirements in the relevant Australian State or Territory

    • Other charges such as import processing, customs brokers’, and logistics service provider charges

  • Select an international car import company and preferred shipping method to transport your vehicle from the United States to Australia

  • Determine your vehicle’s departure and destination ports
  • If you wish to register your vehicle for road use in Australia, you’ll need to get the vehicle plated

More information on the process of importing a vehicle to Australia can be found here.

Vehicle Import Options

As you engage in the vehicle import process, some of the most important questions to consider include:

  • Whether you plan to permanently keep the car in Australia or if it’s just a temporary move,
  • Whether the car was manufactured before or after January 1989, and
  • Whether you have been the owner of the car for over 12 months.

These questions and more will determine whether your car is eligible for import, as well as the import category under which you should apply for a vehicle import approval.

Most vehicles will fall under one of three options: Vehicles Manufactured before 1989, Personal Import, and Letter of Compliance. However, there are many other options available, and you should never assume your scenario is the same as someone else’s. Some vehicles such as classic cars may have eligibility requirements that differ from those for newer vehicles.

Vehicle Import Approval

Once you have determined the vehicle import option under which you want to apply, you must obtain Vehicle Import Approval. This must be completed before attempting to import your car, as you will need to submit the valid approval to Australian customs. Fail to do so and your car might be locked up in quarantine or returned to the USA.

When your vehicle arrives at its final destination, you will have to obtain quarantine clearance from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. You will need to produce identification, proof of ownership, valid insurance and proof that all safety standards have been complied with.

Things to Consider

  • You will need to ensure that your car meets all the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Standard Act of 1989, particularly the regulations pertaining to emission levels and safety standards.
  • Note that air conditioning that emits CFC gases is banned in Australia, so do some research on your car’s air conditioning unit before attempting to import it.
  • At present, due to quarantine issues arising from a stink bug infestation, all vehicles imported from the USA to Australia and New Zealand must be fumigated. Please speak with a sales representative for further information.

US to Australia Car Import Costs & Time Frame

Using a baseline of a compact car being imported using the roll-on/roll-off method from the Port of Los Angeles to the Port of Sydney, our estimate to Import a Car from USA to Australia starts at a cost of $1,195 USD with an estimated turnaround time of 28 – 50 days, depending on whether the origin in the USA is on the east or west coast.

However, the cost to import a car to Australia can vary according to factors such as the model and make of your vehicle, your current location, the nearest departure port in the USA, your transport method of choice, availability of your chosen services and your final destination. Additionally, you’ll need to consider costs such as storage, cleaning, other vendor fees, and Australian taxes & duties.

Duties are levied by Australian Customs before your vehicle is imported; if you are staying in Australia on a tourist or temporary visa, you are permitted to import a car for up to 12 months without having to pay customs duty. However, the GST (Goods and Services Tax) and LCT (Luxury Car Tax) will apply regardless of the length of your stay.

Taxes & Duties for Australian Car Imports

Vehicles over 30 years old

  • Duty 0%
  • GST 10%

New and used vehicles up to 30 years old

  • Duty 10%
  • GST 10%

Four wheel drive off road or commercial vehicle

  • Duty 5%
  • GST 10%
To obtain an estimate of the cost to import a car to Australia, fill out our free quick quote form.

US to Australia Vehicle Import Options

Import Car from USA to Australia can be performed using a shared container, a sole container or a roll-on/roll-off service.


Roll-on/roll-off – This option tends to be one of the more affordable ones as you only must pay port charges and customs clearance charges in addition to the shipping charge. Your vehicle will be loaded into the holding area of a large vessel, one which resembles a big parking garage. This method is suitable for shipping and handling bulkier vehicles like work trucks, which are quite commonplace due to Australia’s large mining industry.

Transits tend to be faster than with the roll-on/roll-off service as the containers depart on a weekly basis.


Shared container service – Several vehicles are shipped using one single container. The container must be processed, so more fees are involved than with the roll-on/roll-off method, however they are shared between several clients. Fees include customs clearance, trucking charge, terminal handling charge and a charge for unloading the vehicles at a bonded warehouse.

You may be required to wait for a longer period before your car can be imported as the container can only depart with a full load thanks to other clients.


Full container load – This method is the same as the shared container load, except that one single vehicle occupies the entire container and the fees, which are like those for shared containers, are borne by you alone.

Container loading offers the benefit of added security. When the vehicle is received, photographs are taken of the car itself as well as the loading process, after which the container door is locked and the car is kept safe. The vehicle is only released when the container arrives at the destination, and an agent once again takes photographs of the uploading process. The vehicle is kept secure, so clients may transport other items inside the vehicle, although they are advised to pack with care as we are not liable for any loss or damage sustained.

We choose not to use wood ramps like other companies but instead employ a steel loading system, which is more effective in preventing loss and damage.

Additional Services


Sourcing vehicles – Our long list of car buyers enables us to find and buy vehicles for purchasers located overseas for a commission or additional fee to be paid to the car buyer.


Other services – Some of the auto transport services we offer in overseas territories include domestic pickup, vehicle import assistance, tracking of your shipment, customs clearance in the USA and a full vehicle inspection report.

Ports Served in the US and Australia

Departure Ports – United States

The location your vehicle will depart from depends on the method of car transport to Australia, where your vehicle is located, your budget and which services the nearest port offers. We have multiple departure locations in the USA, including Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Miami, Savannah and more.

Destination Ports – Australia

Here are the Australian entry ports where your vehicle can be imported.

  • Sydney
  • Melbourne
  • Brisbane
  • Adelaide
  • Fremantle
  • Port Kembla
  • Geelong

Cleaning Your Vehicle of Biosecurity Concerns

If you are importing your vehicle to Australia, it is your responsibility to ensure that the vehicle is clean and free of biosecurity concern. The Australian government is very serious about preventing the introduction of damaging non-native pests, plants and diseases to the continent.

Upon arrival in Australia, your vehicle will be subject to biosecurity control. Biosecurity officers may inspect your vehicle, and if contamination is found, it will need to be cleaned or fumigated. The officers may even require the export or destruction of the goods.

As such, you must clean your vehicle before export, ensuring that it is free of contamination.

According to Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, such contamination includes, but is not limited to, “live insects, seeds, soil, mud, clay, animal feces, animal material, and plant material, such as straw, twigs, leaves, roots, and bark.”

Plating Your Vehicle in Australia

If you intend to operate your vehicle on Australian roads, you’ll need to have the vehicle registered for road use.

This requires you to fill out and submit an Endorsement of Compliance Certificate and register the vehicle in the appropriate State or Territory.

Visit the Australian Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development for more information about plating your vehicle in Australia.

Other Australia/US Shipping Options