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Importing Veteran Cars and Parts into Australia


If you are looking to import anything from the United States we can assist, whether it is a 50’s Cadillac or 1903 Steam car, a jet ski, a pair of doors or just some heavy stuff you purchased on EBay, we can bring them into the country for you.

We have our containers professionally packed in Long Beach, California departing from the Long Beach port facility, arriving at Sydney port and un-packed and quarantine inspected in a private professional operation adjacent to Port Botany. We do not cram 3 or 4 cars into a container and 10,000 packages so as it gets the most out of everything. We pack vehicles so they have plenty of space to minimise potential damage and have them cared for every step of the way. All packages are thoroughly secured so as to minimise movement during the transit.

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1/    Direct is quoted as being 21 to 23 days transit, direct from Long Beach to Sydney. It sometimes takes a few days longer. Direct is considerably more expensive than transit but also quicker and is by far and away our preferred shipping option.

2/    Transit is cheaper and slower – generally 6 weeks and travels through one or more ports and potentially one or more ships in its transit to Australia. The cost factor ensures that this is the most generally used service by other importers, but not one we utilise by choice.

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We charge based on the size of the vehicle or the actual size of the parcel, please email us for a quote (click here).Our fee includes all documentation and initial import fees except in the case of a vehicle, The Australian Import Approval (click here) which is the owner’s responsibility. Our fee however does not include GST or Duty or Luxury Car Tax on your purchases and we will need a copy of your invoice for declaration. All charges are in Australian dollars, we provide you with a detailed invoice indicating all costs including the exchange rate used and GST etc. This is payable within 7 days of receipt or at time of pick up whichever is the lesser.

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As the impacts of CV19 hit the ports, container bookings became more and more difficult to obtain with booking often being “rolled” as ships were delayed in other ports or the vessel booking was cancelled all together. This resulted in constant delays in loading and shipping along usual routes. 


Strike action and “go slow” by dock workers also added to delays with ships often sitting at anchor off port like Long Beach & Sydney waiting to be provided with the birth at the docks sometimes for days and even weeks. These delays have seen horrific increases in international shipping fees and port charges. Hopefully, as the world starts to get back into some sort of post CV19 normal, we will see the number of vessels and the time allocated for shipment go back to something like pre Covid times, I personally think that is 18 months away.

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Everything in the container has to be declared, we provide the Customs agent with copies of all the invoices or EBay purchased page (as provided by you) for the products within the container. As mentioned, our fee includes all documentation charges, (except in the case of a vehicle the Australian import approval, see below). We provide you with a simple form to assist you and streamline this process (click here to OWL Parcel form). The GST, LCT and duty (if applicable) will be calculated based on the rate of Australian Dollar v $US on the day of loading in the United States or as indicated by Australian Customs.

importing veteran car
importing veteran car
importing veteran car
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Vehicle Importation into Australia is regulated by the Department of Infrastructure and Transport. This system was updated last year to the ROVER system and is an automated lodgement system. It is the responsibility of the owner of the vehicle to lodge this application with the office in Canberra as per the instructions on their website (click here). To down load a copy of the import approval application click here. It should be lodged and approved prior to the departure of the container. 


The ROVER system requires you to have detailed documentation:

  • Your personal ID – Passport or photo Drivers Licence

  • Proof of purchase.

  • Clear title for the vehicle.

  • Photo of the VIN or ID number

  • Detailed photos of the motor, interior, transmission, upholstery etc. as a rule the more photos the better. 

So please ensure that you have ample photos of all aspects of the vehicle prior to commencing the process. The vehicle import "approval" once issued to the owner of the vehicle must be lodged with customs at the same time as all the other documentation; we no longer do this on your behalf so we need a copy of the approval as soon as it arrives. In the event that it is not approved and delays are experienced once the container arrives, the fees are horrific and mount up daily so please be prompt in getting this in. These fees are the responsibility of the owner of the delayed vehicle. These fees need to be paid in full prior to the release of the vehicle, so please be prompt to avoid costly delays. 

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We pride ourselves in quality importing, NO double stacking, if the car can't be tied to the floor of the container we don't put it in with that shipment. We use a private packing facility in Long Beach Ca. for export and our agent George at PTS does all the dealing with US Customs for the export. All vehicles are strapped 4 ways and 8 inch chocks secured at each wheel to ensure there is no movement within the container. Likewise plenty of room is left between vehicles so there is no opportunity for damage.


We also use a private quarantine facility based adjacent to the port in Sydney and vehicles and parcels can be picked up directly from that facility with prearranged appointment. There is certain documentation that is needed to permit pickup of goods or vehicles and this is provided by us once everything is cleared in both the Quarantine & Customs systems and all fees are paid.


We don't do the B.S. of 4 or 5 quarantine inspections - generally if there is a knock back by quarantine a professional cleaning process is completed on the offending area and it is re-inspected, additional clearing is rare. We are hands off this process and are guided by the container facility management and Aust. Customs & Quarantine. Because of this professional approach, we do a lot of Veteran and High end vehicles, that need the best care. We're probably more expensive than the guys that do double and triple stack getting 4 or 5 cars in a container and unload at the docks - as mentioned we pride ourselves on quality international shipping.

Old world lamps & tyres
Importing Cars
importing veteran car
Importing goods
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US Customs has recently increased it operations to detect prohibited imports and contraband. The process is designed to limit the importation of drugs etc and unfortunately some criminals have taken to hiding drugs etc in exported vehicles in an effort to hide their contents. We have no control over this process and as a rule we are not informed until the process is well underway.


This process can be as simple as x-raying the container prior to departure, opening the container doors and allowing a detection animal to pour over all the goods inside, through to a complete up-pack and inspection. The later, generally carried out at a private facility adjacent to the port is a very expensive process and unfortunately it is the responsibility of the importer. Thankfully we have only had a few complete unpacks, however these are, as mentioned, expensive and create huge delays in getting the container onto a vessel.  These cost are to be paid promptly once the inspection is complete and any delays in payment incur additional fees and further delays. The cost of these inspections, when they occur, we divide up between the purchasers of items within the container according to a percentage of the contents of the container. 

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As a rule we do not accept dangerous / flammable goods, please see our terms and conditions (click here). In the event that any dangerous / flammable goods are sent to our depot for export these will be treated as strictly "hazmat goods" and crated as such, at the customers expense. This (as we have learnt from experience) is not a cheap exercise. Quarantine are very sensitive to fruit, seeds & nuts, so any items that is packed in any box that is marked fruit or nuts is prohibited, and must be disposed of in an approved facility, whether it has actually contained fruit or nuts / seeds in the past or NOT. Disposal of these items is expensive and is a cost that the purchaser must bear, so please make sure your items are not packed in this type of container.

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The asbestos issue has had a lot of "air" over the last couple of years. In over a decade of importing cars, I can honestly say we have only ever been subject to two asbestos inspections. I have always maintained that asbestos was not introduced into automobiles in general until the late 1940's and as the large majority of our vehicles are veteran & vintage they should not be affected. In the few cases where Australian Border Security have conducted positive asbestos screening on other imported vehicles, it has been a lengthy and expensive. Importers are encouraged to conduct due diligence to ensure that they satisfy themselves that their import is, to the best of their knowledge, free of asbestos. 


Our attitude to Australian Customs and Quarantine has always been very conciliatory and I am often in contact with the officials. I have found them to be honest, diligent, polite and as a rule fairly easy to get on with and interested in the vehicles we import. They have a sometime difficult job to do and have rules to follow, some rules are more important to some officers and we go with the flow as far as each officer is concerned. It should be noted the 100% no asbestos rule is a Federal Government policy carried out by Australian Customs and Quarantine, not an Australian Border Force edict. Australian Border Force have release a FAQ and this can be found here:

The "quick fast forward" of what they are looking for is out lined below.

Australian Border Force are also targeting engine gaskets, hood gaskets, exhaust gaskets, hood liners, carpet liners, clutch disk, etc and by solely removing the brake pads will not stop further inspections on arrival. If Asbestos is found in any component, just removing the brake pads does not show the required “Due Diligence” and will not protect the importer from an inspection or potential fine. The fines are substantial and several importers have been fined already.

In addition, Australian Border Force have confirmed, although new brake pads may be installed in the U.S. and the MSDS states the goods are “asbestos free”, Australian Border Force will not accept this as sufficient assurance of required 'nil asbestos'.  The reason for this non - acceptance is because the U.S. allows 1% and less to be represented as “Asbestos Free” and Australia is Zero tolerance.  The new brake pads will still have to be tested and a certificate issued showing an asbestos detection of 0% must be presented to the Australian Border Force to avoid further potential inspections/penalties on arrival. 



We follow the dollar closely however the “official” import rate is generally a few cents less than the rate indicated on the net, we use the website for indicative currency conversions (click here). As mentioned, all calculations on GST duty etc are based on the rate of exchange on the day of loading and dictated by Australian customs. We receive official notification of the rate later in the transit process.

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All goods entering Australia are subject to quarantine inspection. Experience says that some inspections are more intense than others and this may depend on the origin of goods or an "alert" regarding a particular bio diversity risk. A simple example of this is the seasonal requirement to treat for Brown Stink Bugs in goods coming from the USA.


We have an excellent relationship with Australian Quarantine and always act on the best behalf of the client in having goods cleared, however we will always obey all directions for quarantine officials. All goods are only released when quarantine forward a "Finalised & Released" direction and those directions are reflected on the Australian Customs web site.

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If you have the items you purchased crated, you should ensure the material used conforms to ISPM15 standards, to prevent delays or even forced disposal of the material upon quarantine inspection. Effectively, the ISPM15 standards are manmade products or products that are approved heat treated. Click this link to the Australian Government web site or email us for information. Again please read the section on Fruit, Nuts and seed container in the Dangerous and sensitive goods section.

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In early 2015 the Australian Government ruled that all containers leaving the USA for Australia must be fumigated during certain times. We prefer to have this completed on all our containers prior to delivery to the dock in Long Beach as it simplifies the Customs process here in Australia. 

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