Shipping Vehicles From USA to Australia

Whether you’re relocating to Australia from the US and need to have your car brought with you or just recently purchased an American car and are wondering how to have it shipped safely home, you’ve come to the right place. Shipping a car to Australia requires adequate research planning, preparation and paperwork.

To successfully coordinate with your international auto transport company, you’ll want to start working with them as early as possible. Allow yourself plenty of time in the beginning to avoid any unpleasant surprises that could come up at the end.

At this point, I’m sure that you have a lot of questions and that’s perfectly fine. Our 2020 guide below will examine everything you need to be aware of about shipping a car to Australia.

Shipping a Vehicle From USA to Australia Checklist

Here’s a rough break down of the process that you will go through when shipping your car from the US to Australia.

  • Use the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development’s vehicle import options to determine the import eligibility of your particular vehicle.
  • Once you’ve determined that your vehicle is eligible and chosen an import option, apply for Vehicle Import Approval
  • Understand all the costs involved with shipping a vehicle:
    • Shipping freight and insurance costs
    • Wharf, transport, storage and delivery fees when your car arrives
    • Duties, taxes and fees, including Australia’s Goods and Services Tax and Luxury Car Tax
    • Cleaning fees for biosecurity (required to prevent introduction of invasive species)
    • Insurance and registration requirements for the applicable Australian State or Territory
    • Other charges related to customs brokers’, imports processing, and charges from your logistics service provider
  • Choose an international vehicle shipping company and desired shipping method to ship your car from the United States to Australia
  • Establish the departure and destination ports for your vehicle
  • Check that the car is clean and free of biosecurity hazards
  • Go through the process of getting your vehicle plated, if you want to register it for road use in Australia

You can always find more detailed information in regards to shipping a vehicle to Australia on the Australian Government’s Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications website.  Regardless, let’s dive in deeper.

What are the Australian vehicle import options?

In order to determine whether your car is eligible for shipping to Australia and the import category it falls under, consider the following:

  • Is this a temporary move? Or, do you plan to keep the vehicle in Australia permanently?
  • Was the vehicle manufactured before or after January 1989?
  • Have you been the owner of the vehicle for more than 12 months?

These questions and more will help guide you in the direction of what import category you should apply under for a vehicle import approval.

Most vehicles that are shipped to Australia will fall under: Personal Imports, Vehicles Manufactured before 1989, and Letter of Compliance. However, these are not the only options available. You should refer again to the Australian Government’s website for more details and information in regards to import categories.

What is an Australian Vehicle Import Approval?

Now that you understand which vehicle import option your vehicle qualifies for, you need to obtain Vehicle Import Approval. You cannot ship your vehicle until you obtain the valid approval as you will need to submit it to Australian customs. Failure to do so means your car may end up being returned to the USA or locked in quarantine.

You can fill out and submit an application for approval through a secure online client portal on the Australian Government’s website.

How much does it cost and what’s the timeframe to ship a car to Australia?

If you imagine the scenario of a compact car shipped via the roll-on/roll-off method from Los Angeles to Sydney, we estimate your car shipping costs from USA to Australia starting at $1,195 USD. Your estimated delivery timeframe will be about 1-2 months, or 28-50 days, depending on whether the port of origin is on the east or west coast of the USA.

However, the amount that you’ll pay to ship a car to Australia varies depending on several factors. These include make, model, your current location, the nearest departure port to you in the USA, your preferred shipping method, general availability of your desired services and your final destination port.

Aside from this, you’ll also need to factor in the costs for storage, cleaning, other various vender fees and the Australian duties and taxes.

Note: If you are staying in Australia on a temporary visa or as a tourist, you are allowed to have an imported vehicle for up to 12 months without being required to pay customs duty.

What are the car shipping options from USA to Australia?

Shipping a vehicle from the USA to Australia can be done through a roll-on/roll-off service, an individual container or a shared container. We’ll explain these options in further detail.

  • Roll-on/roll-off services – This is typically the most affordable option for shipping a car to Australia. In this case you are only paying the shipping charge, port charges and customs clearance charges. Your vehicle is essentially driven onto the freight ship and kept in a large vessel, similar to a parking lot. This type of transit also tends to be faster as they leave the port on a weekly basis.
  • Shared container service – You can fit several vehicles into one single container, and many choose to go this route. In general, more fees are involved with this option but you will share them between multiple clients. Container shipping also protects your vehicle from weather and the elements and is less likely to incur damage.
  • Individual container service – This method is essentially the same as the shared container service except that the container will only be occupied by one vehicle. This is the most expensive option as you will have to cover all the extra fees yourself. Although it’s pricey, it’s the most secure method to ship a car from the USA to Australia.

How do I clean my car of biosecurity hazards?

As mentioned previously, when shipping a vehicle to Australia, you are responsible for making sure that it is clean and free of any biosecurity hazards. The Australian government takes the possibility of introducing damaging non-native plants, pests and diseases very seriously.

When your vehicle arrives in Australia, it will be subject to biosecurity control. Your car may be inspected and if they discover any concerns or contamination, your car will be thoroughly cleaned and fumigated. They may even require that the vehicle be quarantined for an extended period of time and your goods destroyed. Additionally, you will be charged a fee for the cleaning of your vehicle.

In order to avoid any extra fees and having to deal with Australian biosecurity control, remove everything from your vehicle and consider having it professionally cleaned prior to transport.

For reference, Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources states that 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.”

Hiring an International Car Shipping Company

We understand that there is a lot involved in shipping a vehicle from the USA to Australia and this may seem like a lot to handle. However, that is where we come in.

At Ship Vehicles, we pride ourselves in safe and reliable international car shipping. Our years of experience in shipping cars to Australia will work to your benefit. Give one of our international car shipping experts a call today to help guide you through the process and provide you with a free shipping quote.

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