Changes to motor vehicle import laws to benefit consumers and motoring enthusiasts

By Margaret Bux
clock 3 min

The Federal Government is proposing to reform motor vehicle laws in relation to imports with the changes to come into force from 2018.

Consumers will be allowed to personally import one new motor vehicle every two years from countries with comparable vehicle standards to Australia (these being, right hand drive vehicles) namely Japan and the UK.  It must be a new vehicle, with less than 500 kilometres on the odometer and less than 12 months old.   Motorcycles could also be imported from the USA and EU.  A requirement has been proposed that vehicles to be imported undergo inspection by a third party inspection service to verify the above criteria and to identify any differences in standards that may need to be addressed, such as child restraint anchorages.

The reforms will offer buyers greater choice in vehicles and vehicle variants (e.g. diesel) if they are not available in Australia.  The car industry is expected to save over $70 million a year in lower regulatory compliance costs.

Other proposed changes will improve the existing schemes for the import of older specialist and enthusiast vehicles.  These include the removal of a $12,000 special duty on imported used vehicles, as well as a proposed rolling 25 year date for a vehicle eligible to be imported as a classic car instead of the previous pre-1989 rule.  Also, under a revamped Register of Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicles, newer vehicles will only need to meet one of five criteria.

Under the Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme, the 500 vehicle restriction that workshops are currently only allowed to import, will be removed.

Lastly the Concessional Import Scheme will be simplified for regulatory efficiency and will cover temporary, specialised operation and older vehicles, as well as caravans and campervans.

For more detailed information, see the overview brochure pdf from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development website page Reform of the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989.

After further public and stakeholder consultation, The Government will introduce the legislation into Parliament later this year.  The reforms will commence 12 months after this process with a transition period for businesses.

In the meantime, if you wish to receive updates on these changes, please send an email to  to be added to a motor vehicle imports distribution list.  Alternatively call the Clarke Global team on 9854 3000 if you have any questions or need the Government information clarified.


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