Q. How do I apply for a vehicle import approval?
The Department provides an online application system; this allows vehicle importers to submit applications through their own personalised portal. Importers are can register for the portal on the Department website. Further information about the online system is available at the How to apply for a vehicle import approval page.
Q. Do I need to plan my registration and first application?
Yes. Importers vary from global automotive manufacturers to one-off, individual importers. To cater for this variety, the online system offers different methods of establishing a portal and lodging an application. Importers will need to select the approach that is best suited to their circumstances. Importers may register as:
Organisations (such as companies).
Q. What type of agent am I?
Agents act on behalf of the importer. There are different types of agents. A private agent is a family member or friend assisting the importer. A freelance agent (such as a customs broker or freight forwarder) provides a commercial service. A corporate agent acts on behalf of an organisation. Corporate agents include company officers and staff members.
Q. Can an agent register and apply on behalf of a vehicle importer?
Yes. Agents may carry out all of the arrangements for their client (the importer). The agent may register the client and then submit an application on behalf of the client. However, the agent will need to provide the Department with evidence of the agent's authority to act. Agents must attach their letter of authorisation with the application. A Letter of authorisation must contain certain types of information. Further details are provided at the Letter of authorisation page.
Alternatively, importers may register themselves and nominate their agent. Agents nominated in this manner do not need a separate letter of authorisation. To be nominated, the agent must already be registered.
Q. If I register as an individual, do I need a letter of authorisation?
No. The Department will send any queries and the decision to your nominated email address.
Q. Can agents become registered without lodging an application?
Yes. Freelance and private agents may initially register with the Department, ready to be nominated by clients at a later stage.
Q. Can agents act on behalf of multiple clients?Yes. However, as a security measure, agents may only access the details of applications they have submitted themselves.
Q. Should an agent contact the importer?
Yes. Agents should confirm arrangements with the importer before proceeding. Agents should inform the importer that they will have access to all documentation (including queries and decisions) relating to the application.
Q. Are agents vetted by the Department?
No. Agents that are registered with the Department are not verified, cleared or endorsed by the Department. Importers will need to conduct their own checks as to whether the agent they select is suitable for them.
Q. How do I change agents part way through an application?
Importers will need to contact the Department.
Q. Do organisations provide company numbers as part of registration?
Yes. The Department verifies the organisation name and company number against the registers of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). Agents should ensure that details provided to the Department match the details held by these registers.
Q. Can corporate agents view any application of an organisation?
Yes. Corporate agents (of an organisation) may access the details of any application lodged on behalf of the organisation. However, the Department will send any queries and the decision only to the email address of the corporate agent lodging the application.
Q. I have experienced delays in loading the online application form from my portal.
Delays can occur in loading the online application form. Loading may take a number of minutes. Loading times may vary and will depend on your internet connection.
Q. I am missing one piece of supporting evidence for my application, what should I do?
Importers should ensure that forms are complete and accurate and that the correct supporting documentation is attached. Details entered in applications are used to populate vehicle import decisions. The Department will send queries and make decisions based on the information contained in the application. As a result, incomplete applications may be delayed.
If you do not have all the necessary information to complete your application, you may save the application in draft form and return to it later.
Q. My contact details have changed. What do I do?
You may use your portal to update your contact and organisation details (including email addresses). Your updated details will be automatically pre-filled into your next application.
If your details change after you have submitted your application, but before you have imported your vehicle, you will need to contact the Department.
Q. How are applications assessed?
The Department uses a risk based approach. The Department assesses some details automatically. Other details are assessed in more detail. The Department also undertakes auditing processes on applications. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that applications are submitted with complete and accurate details, including supporting evidence. Giving false or misleading information is a serious offence. Offences are set out under Part 7.4 of the Criminal Code for giving false or misleading information in applications or documents. Maximum penalties of imprisonment for 12 months are provided.
Q. Can my application be fast tracked?
No. The Department assesses applications in the date order they are received. This ensures a fair and transparent decision making process for all applicants. The Department does not offer a fast track service or expedite applications.
Q. Can I use my portal to pay the application fee?
Yes. Once an application is submitted, importers can pay the $50 application fee. The fee must be paid before the application can be assessed. Users can use their portal to pay by credit card.
Q. Has the online form changed?
Some aspects of the form have changed, with the commencement of the new online system. For example, the form has drop down lists for vehicle makes and models. The form handles multiple VINs differently.
Q. I submitted an application before the commencement of the online system. What will happen?
Applications lodged before the commencement of the online system will be processed using the previous system. The application will not be visible via your portal. A paper copy of decision will be posted to you.
Q. Can I change my password?
Yes. You can change your password via the portal. If you forget your password, you may recover your password via the Log on to the Client Portal page.
Q. Can I review past applications?
Yes. Users may use their portal to view a summary of applications. The portal will show the status of applications. The list can be sorted. Applications over 12 months old are not visible. To access older applications, users will need to contact the Department.
Some application types will not show the VIN in the VIN field of the application summary.
Q. The Department has sent me a query, requesting further information on my application. How should I respond?
The Department may need to seek further information about an application. The Department will send its request via the email address nominated in the application. It is important that you respond to queries by replying to the Department's email. You should not compose new emails.
Q. Is there a time limit in responding to a query?
To avoid delays in assessment, you should reply promptly to Departmental queries. The Department may refuse an application, if you fail to respond to a query.
Q. Do I need an agent or a customs broker to assist me with my application?
No. It is optional to use an agent or customs broker to assist with the importation of your vehicle but it may be beneficial as the importing process is complex and may involve many government and non-government agencies (i.e. freight forwarders).
Q. Where can I get help with my application?
Professional customs brokers or agents can help you with your application. The Department is unable to provide advice on specific applications.
Q. Do supporting documents included with my application need to be certified?
In some cases, documents need to be certified by a qualified person. Statements made by third parties attesting to details relevant to the application need to be signed by a Justice of the Peace or a Notary Public. For example, a statement outlining any modifications made to a vehicle would need to be certified by an appropriate person.
Q. What if I don't have a purchase document to include in my application (eg lost, destroyed)?
Generally, you should provide a signed statement or statutory declaration advising when and how you acquired the vehicle. Depending on the import option, further documentation may be required. Please review requirements for specific options under Import options.
Q. If I cancel or withdraw my application, can I get a refund on my $50 application fee?
No. It is an application fee.
Q. Is the $50 fee per vehicle or per application form lodged?
The $50 fee is per application form lodged. Each application can list as many vehicles as necessary as long as they are included in the same import application.
Q. If I get a Vehicle Import Approval does that mean I do not have to prove there is no asbestos in the vehicle?
No. The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development administers the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989. The prohibition on the importation of asbestos falls under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956. The Australian Border Force (ABF) administers those regulations. Information about asbestos in motor vehicles can be found on the ABF website at: www.border.gov.au/.
Q. When will I receive my vehicle import approval?
An application for a vehicle import approval, with all necessary supporting documentation will generally be assessed by the Department within 20 working days of receipt (including payment of the lodgment fee). This process will take longer if any further information or clarification is required, if the necessary supporting documentation is not initially provided, or if the original application is incomplete.
Q. How do I receive my vehicle import approval?
Once the Department has assessed your application, it will notify you whether your application has been approved or refused. The Department will send its decision via the email address nominated in your application.
Q. Do I need a vehicle plate?
If you have applied to import a vehicle under the personal import option or the letter of compliance option, you may need to plate your vehicle if you wish to register it for road use. An overview of the process is available at the Plating vehicles page.
Q. What happens if my application gets refused?
Some vehicles cannot be granted an import approval for Australia. If you consider that a formal review of the decision is required, you can seek a review of the decision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.