Shipping a car to Australia will require adequate planning and paperwork. Don’t wait until the last minute as a number of government agencies will be involved in the process. You’ll need to allow yourself enough time in the beginning to avoid unpleasant surprises in the end. These tips should help.
Budget generously for costs
Every situation is different. How much you pay will depend on the size of your car (larger cars/trucks cost more) when you travel (more volume may mean greater discounts) and how you ship. Expect to pay more if your car travels solo. Roll-on, roll-off, where cars are driven onto the ship, and container shipping offer better deals. Generally, you should expect average prices for standard cars to be in the $5,000 range. Expect to pay more if you don’t live in a departure city and have to drive or ship your car to one. Remember to factor in taxes, duties and fees.
Know if your car is eligible for entry into Australia, which has different standards than the U.S. Find eligibility information here https://infrastructure.gov.au/vehicles/imports/quiz/index.aspx.
Assemble applications and documents
You will need to apply for Vehicle Import Approval (VIA) via the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities. Your car cannot be cleared from customs without the VIA. Consequences can include involuntary storage, export or destruction, all at your expense. Apply here https://infrastructure.gov.au/vehicles/imports/how_to_apply.aspx
You must first register with the Department. You may register and apply as an individual or via an agent. You may choose to work with a shipper who can handle this part of the process. The application fee is $50. Tourists, temporary residents and some military personnel may not need to apply for the VIA. Know before you go.
Be sure your car is clean
After you have been granted approval you will need to prepare your car for shipping. Steam clean it carefully to remove biohazards and avoid quarantine by the Department of Agriculture and Water Sources. Check air conditioning fluid to be sure it is in compliance and test for any other unallowable materials, such as asbestos.
File appropriate documents and pay fees
You will need to complete an import declaration and pay customs as well as Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Luxury Tax. Contact the Department of Home Affairs for more information. You will also need to arrange for an inspection by the Department of Agriculture.
Is your car compliant?
Remember that Australia has different standards than the United States. If your car is not compliant you will need to make modifications before you can legally drive. Once you get this task checked off the list register the car and apply for your plates. State Road and Transport Authorities can help.
There are a number of agencies and steps involved with shipping a car to Australia. Consider working with a reputable shipping company that has strong experience handling these critical tasks. Get recommendations, ask questions and read contracts fully. Research carefully and avoid any deals that seem too good to be true. In the end, you will spend far more money than you thought you were saving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Honest Answers to Your Car Shipping Questions
Yes, we always ask for your specific pickup and delivery addresses, if the carrier can get right to the addresses you provide, they will. If the addresses that you give us are not safely accessible for a Multi-car carrier, however, you will need to make arrangements with the driver to meet at a nearby location where the carrier can safely get in and out.
People do it all the time (rarely for free) but the official answer is no.
Not what you wanted to hear, we know, but that is the honest answer.
We are not licensed to broker the shipment of household goods and, likewise, no car carrier that operates in the USA is licensed to transport them from state to state either. Despite what you might be being told by other car shipping companies you may speak with.
Remember, at the end of the day we're all salespeople, and the true answer to this question is not a great selling point.
You will hear a lot of companies tell you that you can put up to 100 pounds of items in the trunk, but that is not entirely true. That fact is that items of that amount are fairly common and the department of transportation is probably not going to split hairs and fine the trucker over items of that amount, provided they are not over their weight limit. They could fine them, however, if they see a vehicle stuffed full of personal items so the car carrier will most likely try to negotiate something with you to cover themselves against any costs they could incur. It's not something we can build into your contract though.
We have a short and helpful video on this topic in our user videos.
Only in rare cases and car carriers will usually charge a premium to make it happen.
All dates given by car carriers are typically estimates and projections.
For this reason (and to keep your cost down) we ask that you build in some flexibility and give us the earliest possible date you would be WILLING to release the vehicle, even though it may not be your preferred date.
We'll put you in direct contact with your car carrier and the driver will also typically call you the afternoon or evening before your pick up and delivery (they won't just show up unannounced, and if they do we want to hear about it). However, car carriers are out on the road battling traffic, weather and any number of other factors that can and do throw them off of their pickup and delivery projections from time to time.
If the projected dates we give you come and you are unable to make contact with your carrier, please call our office immediately so that we may help resolve the situation.
The average transit time from pick up to delivery on any vehicle going coast to coast will average 7 to 10 days. From there you can figure your transit time based on how far your vehicle is traveling, i.e. from either coast to the Midwest might average 3-7 days.
Even better, we do not even ask for payment until we have you confirmed for pickup by a safe, reliable, fully insured, direct car carrier. If for any reason you do not ship your car with the carrier that we arrange for you, there is no fee.
The fees paid directly to the carrier however, (in most cases, their fees are not paid until your vehicle is delivered) are not directly controlled by us, so any requests for a refund of the carrier's portion would need to be addressed with the carrier directly.
Of course! And you are always backed by our Damage Free Guarantee policy.
Part of what you pay us for is to verify that the car carrier that we put you on is covered by the proper amount of insurance and that everything is up to date.
There is never any additional cost to you for this coverage, and their insurance is always primary.