Importing a second hand car from JapanYou will have heard the stories of a young chap driving around in a near new Nissan Skyline that cost him less than $10,000 in Japan, and next to nothing to import.

The advantage of Japan over most other Asian countries is that they drive on the left hand side of the road, so they do not need to be converted for Australian conditions.

So let’s look at the import issues that you will need to consider. Here’s the Platinum® Freight quick checklist:

  1. You will need a Vehicle Import Approval (VIA) from the Department of Infrastructure and Transport (DIT), which costs $50 and must be approved before the car is shipped to Australia. You can contact DIT at or phone 02 6274 6013
  2. You need to cover freight and insurance costs to Australia
  3. You will need to allow for 5% customs duty unless the vehicle is over 30 years of age (where the import duty is 0%)
  4. You will need to allow for 10% import GST
  5. Depending upon the value of the vehicle, you may need to pay Luxury Car Tax (LCT) – see below
  6. If the vehicle has an air conditioning system; depending upon the name of the gas, you may be required to have the air conditioning refrigerant removed from the system before the car is shipped to Australia
  7. Because it is secondhand, the car must be thoroughly steam cleaned and vacuumed before shipping to Australia in order to meet the biosecurity requirements of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF). You need to check if the car has been cleaned before it leaves Japan and to satisfy your own requirements. More than likely there will be a minor steam clean in Australia and that can cost around $400 depending upon what is found when the car is inspected by DAFF at the depot
  8. While the car is being held by DAFF, you may incur storage fees. These fees are charged differently between each terminal/depot. The DAFF depots are not open on the weekend and generally close at 3pm on Fridays
  9. To drive the car from the port you will need to liaise with your local Roads Authority and pay any temporary permit or licence fees
  10. The rules are similar for caravans, motorcycles and trailers

The reason that it is quicker if you use a customs broker is that all good customs brokers are linked electronically with Customs and DAFF and can process the shipment generally within 24 hours.

You may have to pay Luxury Car Tax depending on the value of the car; the LCT (for the 2013-14 financial year) is applied for cars over $60,316.00 AUD, however the threshold for cars deemed fuel efficient, with a consumption rating not exceeding 7 litres per 100 kilometres, is $75,375.00 AUD.

PS this checklist applies to importing a car from any country – we chose Japan as, like in the UK, the cars are all right hand drive.

For more information call Platinum® Freight on 1300 882 877 or visit: