Importing and licensing a car from overseas

Find out about the laws regarding personal imports of vehicles into Western Australia from overseas, including import approvals, pre-1989 vehicles, and left-hand drive vehicles.

  Can I import my car from overseas?

Federal and State laws allow residents of Western Australia to import a vehicle that has been owned and used by the resident for a continuous period of 12 months overseas. This is known as a 'personal import'.

  Requirement to meet national standards

New or used vehicles being imported, sold or presented to the Australian market for the first time must meet national standards, unless the Commonwealth Administrator of Vehicle Standards issues an exemption.

These standards, known as the Australian Design Rules (ADR), that apply to a typical vehicle include:

  • Seat belts that meet an Australian Standard or British Standard.
  • Seat belt anchorages that meet the number and location requirements of ADR 5 (second or third edition).
  • Child restraint anchorages that meet the number, location, accessibility, thread size and form requirements of ADR 34 (second edition), or ADR 5 or 34 (third edition).
  • Head restraints that meet the number, location and size requirements of ADR 22 (second or third edition).

The ADRs that apply vary depending to the date of manufacture and category of the vehicle.

The Road Traffic (Vehicles) Regulations 2014 (WA) also provides a partial exemption from most of the ADR requirements for vehicles that have been personally imported. Exemption applies for certain ADR related items.

Please visit the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications' Importing Vehicles to Australia web page to find out more.

You can also download relevant Vehicle Standards Bulletins (VSB) from the website.

External Link Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications: Australian Design Rules
External Link Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications: Vehicle Standards Bulletins (VSB)
Opens in a new window Department of Justice: Road Traffic (Vehicles) Regulations 2014

  Import approvals

Vehicle imports are controlled by the Australian Government.

An import approval is required before a vehicle can be permanently imported into Australia. Special provisions apply to vehicles temporarily imported to Australia.

Import approvals cannot be given to vehicles that have already arrived in Australia. Vehicles imported without approval must be re-exported or destroyed and the owner may face substantial fines.

Vehicles being imported, to the Australian market must meet national standards, unless the Administrator of Vehicle Standards issues an exemption.

  Export approvals

The process to export a vehicle from Australia will depend on:

  • Whether the vehicle is being exported permanently or temporarily,
  • If the vehicle is being exported for your own private use or to sell and,
  • What country you wish to export to.

If you want to take your vehicle to use while on a holiday or while working overseas, you must contact the Australian Automobile Association (AAA). They can advise if you require a Carnet de Passages en Douane (CPD) document which they issue on behalf of the Australian Government (Department of Home Affairs).  This document is used to identify your private vehicle and allows visitors to a country to import their vehicles for a limited period.

If exporting your vehicle permanently for private use or to sell and return the vehicle's number plates to your nearest DVS centre, regional DoT office or agent.  You will need to comply with the requirements of the destination country, and you should contact the relevant department in that country directly.

External Link Australian Automobile Association

  Importing vehicles manufactured before 1989

In order to license an imported vehicle manufactured prior to 1989 in Western Australia, the following conditions must be met:

  • The vehicle must have a valid import approval and comply with the requirements or conditions specified.
  • Proof of ownership must be provided.

Vehicles manufactured before 1 January 1989 may be imported to Australia provided they comply with:

  • The relevant Australian Design Rules (ADRs) for the vehicle category and year of manufacture.
  • State requirements (refer to documents below).

In some cases, where it is not feasible to demonstrate compliance with ADRs, it may be acceptable to demonstrate compliance with the intent of the ADRs.

The documents below provide more information on importing pre-1989 vehicles, including:

  • Vehicle compliance.
  • Vehicle importer requirements.
  • Audits.
  • Vehicle dimensions.
  • State requirements for registering imported vehicles.

  Licensing left-hand drive vehicles

Australian residents: eligibility

If you are a resident of Australia and you import a left hand drive vehicle manufactured up to 15 years ago, you may need to convert the vehicle to right hand drive before it can be licensed.

Please refer to modify or construct a vehicle for information on licensing a left hand drive vehicle.

If your left hand drive vehicle is less than 4,500 kg, and was manufactured more than 15 years ago, it may be possible to license it without the need for a right hand drive conversion. It must however be intended for personal use only.

Immigrants: eligibility

An immigrant who imports a left hand drive vehicle may be able to conditionally license the vehicle for a period not exceeding 12 months. This applies only if the vehicle is imported by the immigrant as personal property.

The left hand drive vehicle may need to be converted to right hand drive before the conditional vehicle licence will be renewed, depending on the age of the vehicle.

We may also approve the issue of a vehicle licence to returning nationals provided they have worked overseas for a considerable period of time (more than 12 months). Written applications must be made to Driver and Vehicle Services for consideration.

In all cases you will need a temporary movement permit to move your unlicensed vehicle on Western Australian roads to a place of repair or examination location.

Vehicles built for use in Australia must comply with standards known as the Australian Design Rules (ADRs). The ADRs that apply vary according to the date of manufacture and the category of the vehicle in question. The Road Traffic (Vehicles) Regulations 2014 provides a partial exemption from most of the ADR requirements for vehicles that have been personally imported. Exemptions apply for certain ADR related items.

More detailed information on licensing left hand drive vehicles can be found in the bulletin IB106D below.

You should also refer to the Department of Infrastructure,Transport, Regional Development and Communications' Vehicle Standards bulletin, Steering conversions for left hand drive vehicles (VSB4). It describes various methods of steering conversion and the minimum standards of workmanship expected

Please go to Modify a vehicle for information on licensing a left hand drive vehicle.

Conversion from left-hand to right-hand drive

Left-hand drive vehicles may need to be converted to right-hand drive before a conditional vehicle licence will be renewed, depending on the age of the vehicle.

Vehicles manufactured up to 15 years ago, may need to be converted to right-hand drive before they can be licensed.

If your left hand drive vehicle is less than 4,500 kg, and was manufactured more than 15 years ago, it may be possible to license it without the need for a right hand drive conversion. It must however be intended for personal use only.

For more information, please read the Department of Infrastructure,Transport, Regional Development and Communications' vehicle standards bulletin 'Steering Conversions for Left Hand Drive Vehicles' (VSB4), which describes various methods of steering conversion and the minimum standards of workmanship expected.

External Link Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications: Vehicle Standards Bulletins (VSB)
Opens in a new window Department of Justice: Road Traffic (Vehicles) Regulations 2014
Page last updated: Wed Oct 27 2021 1:15:43 PM