Author Topic: Australian Vehicle Registration and Customs regulations.  (Read 4245 times)

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Offline alwyn

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Would someone please make enquiries regarding the red tape etc that visitors to Australia would face if they brought their Duggies from home?

John has raised a pertinent question here related to Australian statutory regulations that may be of importance for overseas members or visitors to this forum who may be contemplating bringing their Douglas machines to Australia for the Australian Douglas Centenary Rally in 2007. We have carried out some research and offer the following information and advice.

Firstly, we recommend that all persons intending to temporarily import motorcycles to Australia for the purpose of entering events connected with the Australian Douglas Centenary Rally (ADCR) in 2007 refer to the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) website at to become familiar with all relevant statutory requirements.

In particular, information set out HERE within the AAA website is pertinent. We paraphrase some of that information below but reiterate that all persons contemplating bringing their bike or bikes to Australia should refer to the linked pages for further and more complete information.

DISCLAIMER: Whilst the information provided hereafter is given in good faith,  the ADCR Organising Committee and/or the promoters or associates of forum website, do not accept responsibility for any loss, damage, cost or expense incurred as a result of any error, omission or misrepresentation in this site or the site of the Australian Automobile Association.

There are two statutory bodies having jurisdiction over the temporary import and operation of motor vehicles to Australia. They are...

  • Australian Customs Services (ACS)
  • NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA)

In respect to ACS, there are apparently two methods for temporarily importing your vehicle into Australia for touring purposes. The alternatives are (a) under cover of a carnet or (b) under section 162 of the Customs Act.

Method (a) AAA advises that the simplest method to bring your vehicle to Australia on a temporary basis is by Carnet De Passages en Douane (CPD carnet). In spite of the advice that this is the simpler of the two methods we suggest you look closely at both of the methods outlined and assess for yourself which of the two may be the simpler.

Carnets can be obtained for motor vehicles, motorcycles, campervans, four wheel drive vehicles, caravans and trailers.  Carnets are issued in accordance with the Customs Convention on the Temporary Importation of Private Motor Vehicles.  Vehicles issued a carnet may not be lent, sold, mortgaged, hired, exchanged, given away or otherwise disposed of while in Australia.

Carnets are available from the motoring organisation in your country of residence. 
If you are going to use a carnet to temporarily import your vehicle into Australia you must obtain the carnet before the vehicle arrives in Australia.

A carnet is similar to a personal passport and contains all the relevant information about the vehicle – make, model, colour, engine capacity, seating capacity, registration number, owner and value.

A carnet is valid for 12 months from the date of issue.

There are a number of conditions attached to the use of carnets in Australia that you should make yourself aware of.  In particular the vehicle must be exported from Australia prior to or on the expiry date of the carnet.

A security is required to be provided to obtain a carnet. You have to provide the motoring organisation issueing the carnet with a security equivalent in the case of a motorcycle, to 26% of the market value of the bike. There are severe penalties should a breach of the Customs regulations occur.

Generally three types of security are available from motoring organisations. They can be in the form of a Cash bond, Banker’s Letter of Indemnity or an Insurance Policy. It should be noted that not all motoring clubs offer all three options.

The security is refunded/released after the carnet is returned to the issuing organisation. Contact your local motoring organisation or the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) for more information on Carnets.

Method (b) Tourists or temporary residents who cannot or do not wish to obtain a carnet may use the provisions of Sections 162 or 162A of the Customs Act.  This method is really only suitable for vehicles that meet the Australian Design Rules (indicated by a compliance plate fixed to the fire wall of the vehicle) or those that are fifteen or more years old on their arrival in Australia.

Owners of Vehicles temporarily imported without a carnet will be required to provide a security with the Australian Customs Service on arrival in Australia.  The vehicle cannot be released to the owner until Customs and Department of Transport and Regional Services requirements have been fulfilled.

If you import a vehicle without a carnet you will also require a Vehicle Import Approval (VIA) (fee payable). You must obtain this before the vehicle arrives in Australia. Application forms for a VIA are available from:

The Administrator of Vehicle Standards
ACT Federal Office of Road Safety
GPO Box 1553

...or from any Australian overseas mission.

An application for an VIA can take up to 21 days to process so it is a good idea to apply well before the vehicle arrives in Australia otherwise you will not be allowed to move the vehicle from the wharf or airport.

Vehicle Registration and Insurance.
In respect of the operation of a motor vehicle temporarily imported to Australia, a vehicle that is in New South Wales (NSW) temporarily is exempt from NSW registration requirements providing that vehicle is registered in another, state, territory or in a foreign country.

All vehicles are required to be covered by Third Party (Bodily Injury) Insurance.  This insurance covers physical injury to another person in an accident where your vehicle is at fault.  For insurance which covers damage to property or your own vehicle, owners/drivers will need to take out separate insurance.

Note that while the above refers to 'all vehicles' it may not apply to temporarily imported vehicles in NSW as it does in other Australian states including the ACT (Canberra). This is implied under the state heading NSW within the AAA guidelines where it says "Please note: if you drive into one of our other state/territories it is compulsory to have Third Party Insurance" and "If the operator of an overseas visiting vehicle requires Compulsory Third Party(CTP) insurance, the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) will collect payment through motor registries on behalf of QBE Insurance Ltd and issue a receipt to the operator. We make no further comment other than to say CTP insurance is not very expensive given the protection and peace of mind it affords.

CTP insurance cover can be obtained until the expiry date of the overseas registration up to a maximum of 12 months.

To obtain CTP insurance provide the following at a motor registry:

Current registration papers for the vehicle]
Proof of identity (please refer to RTA’s website, or contact the RTA customer call centre on 132213)
A NSW contact address
A Safety Inspection “pink slip” report for roadworthiness of the vehicle
A completed Overseas Visiting Vehicle Declaration.

You will need to provide a contact address in Australia and overseas.

The RTA has also advised that it is a requirement that a vehicle visiting from overseas must have current registration in the country of origin and must have its country of origin plates attached.

Again, for your own protection we urge you to visit the AAA website at

Alwyn and Ian
For ADCR Organising Committee.

Quotable Quote - "640 k should be enough for anybody"! - Bill Gates - 1981.