Is it like putting my car on the Channel Ferry?

No! It is not like putting your car on a carnet and driving it through Europe. It is a far more complex process, and involves a variety of government departments at both state and national level in Australia.

Can I pick my car up from the docks in Australia and drive it away?

No you can’t. Your car will not be registered for road use in Australia until you have Australian licence plates and have had a roadworthy inspection.

Can I keep my original licence plates?

Only if you want to hang them on your garage wall as a decoration.

How long does it take from the time my car lands in Australia until I can drive it on the roads?

Probably a lot longer than you think. As a general rule, allow two weeks for the car to clear through Customs and Quarantine before it even leaves the docks, then another two-to-three weeks to go through the necessary processes to be registered for road use in Australia. Make sure you factor this in when deciding when to send your car – often it’s much better to send your car earlier and borrow a car from friends or family rather than hire a car in Australia while you wait for your car to be ready.

Is it worth it?

This, of course, is the sixty-four million dollar question! The obvious answer would be yes, otherwise no-one would bother doing it. Having said that, going through the importing process is not for the faint hearted, mainly because of the red tape you have to conquer.

If you absolutely love your vehicle and can’t bear to part with it, then obviously you’re going to choose to import it regardless of what we say, and that’s fine, we’ve brought in many vehicles over the years that haven’t made any sense from a financial standpoint.

If you’ve heard rumours that bringing vehicles to Australia is like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, then we would encourage you to do some further research before going through the rigmarole of applying for import approval.

You may well find that you go to an awful lot of effort and expense to bring a vehicle here, only to find that it is worth less here than what it owes you, particularly if it is a fairly basic model.

If you’re bringing over something more upmarket, then there is potential for profit, particularly if the vehicle you happen to own is a model that can’t enter the country any other way and is therefore desirable to astute collectors here. Feel free to ask us via the request form if you’re not sure whether your vehicle falls into this category.

Do you apply for the vehicle import approval for me?

No we don’t. Or more accurately, we can’t. As part of our process, we will fill out all the relevant information on the application form, collate and submit it and liaise with the Department of Infrastructure and Transport on your behalf, but ultimately the application MUST be in your name as you are the owner.

When should I apply for the import approval?

As soon as you’ve met the criteria for importing, or as soon as you have your visa. DON’T make the mistake of waiting until you’re about to come over to Australia! Our government has a long history of making running changes to legislation without letting anyone know.

On the DIT website you’ll see something written about 17 working day turnaround times – this is rubbish, expect up to 5 or 6 weeks. The section that processes applications is terminally (and in our opinion deliberately) understaffed, and you see that the 17 day processing time doesn’t include peak periods, and they always manage to find a reason for slower processing.

Which insurance companies cover personally imported vehicles?

When most mainstream insurance companies in Australia hear the ‘i’ word (import), they will smile and show you the door. If your vehicle is a model already sold in Australia, we suggest NOT mentioning it is a personal import unless you are specifically asked. There’s nothing underhanded or illegal about doing this, you’re just avoiding confusion on their end.

If your vehicle is rare or unusual, I recommend Shannons Car Insurance , or if you’re under 25, Just Car Insurance . In the interests of ethical probity, we should mention that all our cars insured through Shannons – they offer big premium reductions if you have multiple vehicles or home insurance through them too. Some of the staff are customers of ours, so if you’d like us to put you in touch with a staff member directly, just let us know.

Why do I need an independent valuation?

The Australian government usually holds the opinion that if you’ve owned your vehicle for at least 12 months, its value will have dropped. Submitting the price you originally paid for the car would mean that you often end up paying too much customs duty and tax when the car enters Australia, so the fairest option is to ask for an independent valuation.

One of our biggest bugbears has been lack of predictability in terms of valuations, which can be very frustrating for our customers if valuers decide that a car’s value is much higher than what we’ve suggested. This then results in much higher bills at this end, and no-one wants those kinds of surprises!

In recent times, a company called AutoValuation has formed that can provide you with an on-line independent valuation at any time, even before the car has left your home country. This takes the guesswork out of how much tax you’ll end up paying. For more information, visit www.autovaluation.net.au