Aussie Car Import Restrictions Eased

By: Andy Enright

Lotus Carlton Lotus Carlton Lotus Carlton
Honda NSX 1990 Honda NSX 1990 Honda NSX 1990
Bentley Continental 1991 Bentley Continental 1991 Bentley Continental 1991

Good news if you’re trying to source a classic from overseas

Australia currently labours under some of the most restrictive car import regulations in the world but changes are afoot to help ease the industry chokehold. In order to protect local manufacturing, laws on personal imports and specialist and non-standard vehicles have tended to create an artificially stagnant market for classics. The good news for Unique Cars readers is that getting a car into Oz is about to become easier.

The rule change that’s really stirring up the car industry talking heads isn’t so relevant to us. In short, from 2018, you’ll be able to personally import a new car or bike from overseas with comparable standards to Australia’s (currently cited as the UK and Japan), up to once every two years. The vehicle must be a motorcycle or right hand drive passenger vehicle, be no more than 12 months old and have no more than 500km on the odometer. This has got the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), the mouthpiece of the automotive status quo, extremely amped up.

"The FCAI has repeatedly called on the Government to carefully consider the facts before making a policy decision that will mislead everyday consumers," FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber said. "Not only is the Government taking a 'buyer beware' sentiment that would see many Australians caught in high-risk situations with their vehicles being outside established service networks; the Government is misleading consumers by telling them a used vehicle with 500kms or one that is twelve-months old, is new."

Of more immediate interest to us are the improvements to existing schemes for specialist and non-standard vehicles. This makes bringing in an exotic, rare, classic, collectible and special purpose vehicles a bit simpler. Cheaper too, as the $12,000 special duty on imported used vehicles bites the bullet too from 2018.

The law as it stands says that individuals can import a car or motorcycle under concessional arrangements if it was manufactured before 1 January 1989. This fixed date means that the pool of cars that can be imported gradually becomes smaller and smaller. The new rule will allow a vehicle which is at least 25 years old to be imported under these arrangements which – at the moment – would bring into play a whole lot of cars that started production in 1990 and 1991. The Honda NSX and the Lotus Carlton/Omega would be notable additions from 1990 with the Honda Beat, TVR Griffith and Bentley Continental R all arriving in 1991. 

For newer vehicles, the Register of Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicles is being revisited with new additions and the limits on the number of vehicles that can be imported by each Registered Automotive Workshop will be removed.


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