The Complete American Car Import Manifest

Arranging a car import involves many responsibilities. To keep your affairs in order, it helps to have an overview of the items you need to have prepared as well as the tasks you must accomplish. Without all these points covered, customs will not allow you to complete your import.

Import Permit

Australian customs denies American car imports entry into the country if the vehicle owner does not secure a vehicle import approval (VIA). If your car arrives from America before you have your VIA, you will have to pay high storage fees to customs. Alternatively, you risk having customs require your importer to return the vehicle to America or customs may destroy the car. You can bypass this documentation if you are importing your vehicle temporarily.

Bill of Sale

Your importer needs the bill of sale to provide your car’s value to customs. If you cannot locate it, an experienced importer such as a boutique auto and boat importer — can help you choose the appropriate method to identify your car’s value. Customs sets these rates based on your vehicle’s class or production year.

Registration or Proof of Ownership

You also need to order registration copies to prove vehicle ownership. Your importer will advise you when to do this. It is in your best interest to let your importer handle this task.


Australian customs will require you to provide two forms of identification. Examples of accepted identification are your driver’s license or your passport.

Clean the Vehicle

If you own a vehicle while living in America and you plan to ship it to Australia, make sure you remove all content from the car and have it deep cleaned to prepare your vehicle for quarantine inspection. This inspection is a provision that protects the Australian population from foreign contaminants that are harmful to the Australian environment or its citizens. Contraband elements can include many things from dust deposits to cobwebs. Customs will freeze your car and require you to pay them to sanitize the vehicle if you do not have it properly cleaned.


Before you ship your car, look for comprehensive car insurance. It is important that you have a policy covering your specific vehicle type and all possible accident, damage or theft scenarios during import.

Duties and Taxes

Make sure that you are aware of all duties and taxes you are liable for before importing your car from America. This will ensure that you can settle any fees when they due to customs. You can visit the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development web page to learn the rates levied on different vehicles.

Cancel Your US Car Registration

Make sure you have cancelled your American vehicle registration. Although, American vehicle registrations expire, cancelling your old US car registration will ensure that your registration information is not available for identity thieves.
Importing an American car is an involved process. By knowing what you will need to have and do before you begin, you will make the process go smoother for you and your freight forwarder. This process will also help anticipate customs fees. All of these items are essential to successfully import a vehicle from the United States.