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Importing a road vehicle into Australia

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Before importing a road vehicle into Australia you must obtain an approval to import the vehicle from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (the department).

There are several options to apply for an approval to import a road vehicle. This page outlines each type of approval. You should select the one suited to your circumstances.

Applications for an approval to import a road vehicle must be made through ROVER, the department’s online system that manages all applications and approvals.

On this page

IMPORTANT: Should your road vehicle arrive in Australia without an import approval, the Australian Border Force (ABF) will not release it from customs control. Storage costs for such vehicles can be considerable and all costs incurred are the responsibility of the importer.

8 steps to importing a vehicle

For more information on the steps involved in importing a road vehicle, visit the 8 steps to import a vehicle web page.

Vehicle type approvals

Vehicle type approvals allow an unlimited number of vehicles of a particular type to be imported. This option is generally used for commercial importation requirements.

For more information, visit the vehicle type approvals web page.

IMPORTANT: Under Section 22 of the Road Vehicle Standards Act 2018 it is an offence to import a road vehicle into Australia without approval. The department manages the approval process through its online application system, ROVER. You must obtain approval to import your road vehicle before importing the vehicle.

Importing vehicles one-by-one (single road vehicles)

The single road vehicle option is suited to importing either one vehicle or a small number of vehicles (one-by-one). A separate application is required for each vehicle you are importing. There are several types of single road vehicle applications:

Concessional RAV entry approvals

A concessional RAV entry approval allows certain types of road vehicles to be imported and entered on the Register of Approved Vehicles (the RAV). A concessional RAV entry approval means that you have an import approval for that vehicle.

Vehicles that may be eligible for importation under this application type include:

Specific criteria apply to each import type. For more information, visit the concessional RAV entry approvals web page.

IMPORTANT: The Register of Approved Vehicles (RAV)

The RAV is a database of vehicles that have met the requirements of the RVS legislation and been approved for provision to the Australian market. The RAV replaces the requirement for vehicle identification plates under the MVSA.

Non-RAV entry import approvals

Where a vehicle will not be used on Australian roads, or only in exceptional circumstances, a non-RAV entry import approval may be suitable. Non-RAV vehicles may be approved for certain purposes, including for:

  • Races and rallies
  • Public exhibition
  • Use in film, TV or advertising
  • Testing or market evaluation.

Significantly modified vehicles (for example, a hot rod) or vehicles that will only be imported temporarily may also be eligible under this import type.

For more information, including the criteria that apply, visit the non-RAV entry import approvals web page.

Reimportation import approvals

A reimportation import approval allows the owner of a road vehicle, who has previously exported a vehicle, to ‘re-import’ or bring the vehicle back into Australia. The vehicle must either be on the RAV or have an approval (Australian identification plate or used import plate) under the previous legislation (the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 (MVSA)).

For more information, visit the reimportation import approvals web page.

Importing a vehicle that is not a road vehicle

If you are importing a vehicle that is not a road vehicle, for example, a motorised wheelchair, quadbike or golf cart, then you are not required to obtain a road vehicle import approval.

However, you may apply to the department for an Advisory notice confirming that your ‘thing’ is not a road vehicle. Having an Advisory notice may help you clear your non-road vehicle through customs.

For more information, visit the advisory notice that thing is not a road vehicle web page.

Transitional arrangements

On 1 July 2021, following the full commencement of the Road Vehicle Standards Act 2018 (RVSA), which replaced the MVSA, a 12-month transitional period began for certain segments of the industry.

These transitional arrangements involve:

  • identification Plate Approval (IPA) holders
  • registered automotive workshops (RAWs)
  • specialist and enthusiast vehicles
  • vehicles with an MVSA import approval
  • low ATM trailers (trailers with an aggregate trailer mass less than or equal to 4.5 tonnes)

More information is available on the transitional arrangements web page.

Importing road vehicles under Status of Forces Agreements and certain Customs Tariff Act by-laws

Subsection 22(2) of the RVSA and section 171 of the Road Vehicle Standards Rules 2019 (the Rules) provide that a person is permitted to import a road vehicle in accordance with certain by-laws under the Customs Tariff Act 1995 regarding Status of Forces Agreements (SOFAs) or vehicles reimported by the Australian Defence Force (ADF). This document sets out the requirements relating to import of these vehicles.

More information is included in the Importing road vehicles under Status of Forces Agreements and certain Customs Tariff Act 1995 by-laws – overview PDF: 464 KB ReadSpeaker.

Australian external territories

Australia’s external territories include Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Norfolk Island.

You do not need to obtain an approval under the RVS legislation to import a road vehicle into an external Australian territory.

However, you do need to obtain an approval to import a road vehicle into Australia from an Australian external territory.

Assessment times

It may take up to 30 working days for your application to be assessed and decided on. Ensure you allow enough time for your approval to be granted before you import your road vehicle into Australia.

Other government agencies have requirements for importing road vehicles, for example, customs and quarantine requirements.

For more information on the steps involved in importing a road vehicle you should read the 8 steps to import a vehicle section above.

Warning about asbestos in vehicles

Some vehicles from overseas may contain components that include asbestos. The importation of asbestos is prohibited in almost all circumstances.

For more information, refer to the Australian Border Force asbestos web page.

Resources

  • Varying approvals Guide for industry PDF: 848 KB ReadSpeaker
  • Refuse to consider powers—a guide for industry PDF: 818 KB ReadSpeaker

Contact us

Due to the ACT COVID-19 lockdown, we are unable to answer calls to our call centre on 1800 815 272.

Contact us via one of the following email addresses, and include your phone number in case we need to contact you for further details:


The information provided on this page should be used as guidance material only for importing a vehicle into Australia. Please familiarise yourself with the relevant legislation prior to lodging an application.

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Last Updated: 13 September, 2021