How to Ship a Vehicle from the US to Australia

Shipping a vehicle is stressful. Shipping your vehicle to another continent is even more. We believe that shipping a vehicle in an informed way can be less stressful. That’s why today, we are going to walk you through everything you need to know about shipping your vehicle from the US to Australia.

To Ship or not to Ship?

One of the first thoughts that may come to mind when preparing for an international move is: Is it even worth it to ship my car? Let’s break down exactly the protocols you’ll need to follow in order to import your vehicle to Australia.

What is a Vehicle Import Approval (VIA)?

This is a document issued by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development of Australia. This document is required in order for any vehicle to be imported to Australia.

How do I obtain a VIA?

Step 1:

In order to obtain a VIA, you must have lived overseas for a period of 12 months. This does not mean an individual must be isolated to only living in one country for a period of 12 months, rather, it is ensuring that you have not lived in Australia during that period of 12 months.

Step 2:

Another step to having a VIA approved is the intention of remaining in Australia indefinitely. You must have the intention of becoming a permanent citizen in order to be granted approval. If you do not intend to remain in Australia permanently or do not have the proper visa to reflect this residency, then your VIA will not be approved.

Step 3:

You must be able to establish proof of residence in Australia. This can be done in a number of ways including but not limited to:

  • Employment – letter from employer stating where you are working
  • Rent or purchase agreement of property in Australia
  • Opening an Australian bank account
  • Having Australian telephone or electricity accounts
  • Resignation of work from your home country
  • Australian Entry Stamp – please note that until you arrive in Australia, your VIA is unable to be granted.

We recommend visiting the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development’s website for an extensive list of proof of residence examples.

Step 4:

After your proof of residence has been established, you can then import your car. But wait, there is more to this equation.

Step 5:

In order for you to be able to ship your vehicle from the US to Australia, you’ll need to prove that you’ve owned and driven your vehicle for the period of at least 12 months. This also means that you must have a valid driver’s license during this time period.

I’ve obtained a VIA. What’s next?

This is the most crucial part of understanding what it means to ship a vehicle from the USA to Australia. You must now ask yourself if your vehicle meets the standards of New South Wales? As you may already be aware, in Australia, just like in the UK, vehicles are designed to be driven on the left (with the steering wheel on the right). In the United States, vehicles are designed to be driven on the right (with the steering wheel on the left).

Under the New South Wales standards, all vehicles registered must be right-hand drive. Therefore, if your car steering wheel is on the left, your car will not be operable in Australia under these standards.

However, there are steps to take in order to remedy this. You can convert a left-hand driven vehicle to right-hand drive. This job, however, is quite extensive as you are altering more than simply the steering wheel. This option will also cost you an additional amount of money, but if purchasing a new vehicle in Australia is not something you’d like to consider, these costs will be worth it.

I have made sure my vehicle meets New South Wales’ standards. What now?

The next step in shipping a vehicle from the US to Australia is to clean your vehicle. This task should not be taken lightly as Australia has a Quarantine Clearance that all vehicles must pass in order to ensure no contamination is being brought into Australia.

That is why, we recommend researching and finding a servicer that explicitly cleans vehicles to meet these quality standards. Because your vehicle must pass the Quarantine Clearance, this also means that you must arrange a site for your vehicle to be inspected before you are able to drive the vehicle in Australia.

Additionally, this also implies that there will be an inspection fee which increases the overall cost of shipping your vehicle from the US to Australia.

Is it all worth it?

This is of course a matter of personal opinion. Viewing all the steps and charges one must follow in order to ship a vehicle from the US to Australia seems overall time-consuming, stressful, and costly.

But what is the alternative? You can choose to purchase a vehicle in Australia. However, it is likely that you will exceed the cost of shipping and preparing your vehicle to be imported with this option.

The option is yours to make, however. The necessity of having your own vehicle in a new country is measured by your needs and if you are in need of your vehicle, then you will have to be prepared to work extensively to ensure it’s entry into Australia.

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