Importing Cars to Australia

A Step-by-Step Guide to Importing Cars from Japan to Australia


There are a number of ways to purchase vehicles from Japan and then import them to Australia. However, the first question that may arise is why anyone would import cars instead of buying them from within Australia. Well, the first reason is the cost. You can save a good deal of money while importing cars from Japan even if you have to pay for the fees of shipment and import tax. You can also find a huge range of cars available in Japan, that aren’t normally available in Australia, giving you a unique ride!

Please note that this guide is provided as general information only.  We advise that you should conduct your own research into importing vehicles that relate to your specific circumstances.

It’s important to know which scheme is applicable to your circumstances, as the fees and taxes involved can vary.  There are 3 main schemes that cars can be imported under.

1. Personal Imports Scheme

For those who have owned the vehicle overseas for more than 12 months.

2. Pre-1989 Scheme

Any car that was manufactured before 1989, also known as ‘the 15 year rule’.

3. Special and Enthusists Vehicles Scheme (SEVS)

Cars that can be imported under the Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicles Scheme.


Costs of Importing Vehicles to Australia


All prices quoted by Japan Quality Exports are quoted FOB.  This includes all costs and shipping to your nearest port.  Once the vehicle arrives at the port, the following costs should also be factored into your budget:

Customs Duty

Vehicles over 30 years old, and Motorcycles: 0%
New and used Vehicles up to 30 years old: 10%
Four Wheel Drive Off Road / Commercial Vehicles: 5%


GST is applicable to all imports and is calculated at 10% of the customs value.

Luxury Car Tax

For vehicles with a total GST inclusive value of over AUD$57,009, use may incur Luxury Car Tax (LCT). Luxury Car Tax is an additional tax, levied at 25% on the amount in excess of a certain threshold.


Vehicle compliance costs can vary with each vehicle, however common compliance requirements include:

  • Child restraint anchor points.
  • Replace driver side door mirror to correct standard.
  • Weighbridge certificate.
  • Engineer certificate (not all vehicles).
  • Imported Blue Slip (ensures roadworthiness for RTA).
  • Tyres
  • Personal import compliance plate

Compliance costs can range from AUD$2,000 to $10,000, depending on the specific requirements for your vehicle.  For more detailed compliance costs, contact a RAWS that specializes in the model you are importing.

Registration & Stamp Duty

Registration costs vary from state to state.  Check with your state’s department of transport for more detailed costs.




Australian Customs – Importing a Motor Vehicle

Department of Infrastructure and Transport – Importing a Vehicle to Australia

Department of Infrastructure and Transport – About the Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme (RAWS)

SEVS – Vehicles Eligible for Import