Posted 12 Feb 2016

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Vehicle Import Regulation changes

Understanding the New 25 Year Rule for Australia (and Concessional Vehicle Imports scheme)

We’ve been receiving a large number of enquiries asking when it will be possible to start using the new 25 year rule to import vehicles, as announced by the Australian Govt. on 10 February 2016. The quick answer is we are not likely to see this in place until at least 2018 (more detail below).

Want to import a new car to Australia instead ?

Read more about How to Import a New Car to Australia

Read more about Australia’s Vehicle Import Regulation Changes

See Australian Vehicle Import Rules if you’d like to import a car to Australia under the existing vehicle import regulations including specialist cars for normal road userace and track cars or personal import of your own vehicle which you own overseas.

Online Auction Search — start your research on any model by browsing upcoming Japanese auction cars plus 3 months of past auction car sales

Here’s a summary of what it actually means if you’re wanting an early 90’s model Japanese classic car in your garage (or to import any other classic car to Australia from any country) under the new 25 year rule.

Before we start, bear in mind that classic cars have been receiving a lot of attention in the last 12 to 18 months and consequently prices on current and future collector cars have jumped significantly. Some have doubled in price in that time so many classic models offer a more reliable (and fun) investment compared to the roller-coaster ride of the share market or low bank interest rates.

Ever tried to wax and polish your shares, or take your bank statement for a Sunday drive ?!

The new Concessional Vehicle Imports scheme will encompass:

  • A rolling 25 Year Rule

  • Personal Imports (cars owned for 12 months overseas before import) which we expect will remain much the same as the current regulations

  • Race / rally vehicles, again probably much the same as current regulations

  • Modified vehicles including hotrods

  • Trailers, camper trailers and caravans

  • Exhibition and certain other vehicles not intended for normal road use

A relaxation of what is allowed as a modified / hotrod is very welcome as this was a problem under the previous scheme where older vehicles that have been upgraded with safer brakes, suspension etc. may not be allowed for import.

Of most interest here though is the new 25 Year Rule which at this stage appears will be based on the date of manufacture of each vehicle as the previous “15 Year Rule” used to be. The further detail below relates to this rule alone.

Important — The USA also has a 25 year rule, so we will be competing with US buyers on the same cars. Exchange rates will as always play a large role in pricing. Many are looking at least several months ahead of eligibility and store vehicles prior to shipping, so prices rise ahead of the 25 year rule cutoff. If you want the best price you’ll need to do the same. Yes, we can offer storage in Japan.

Implementation — The Govt. has indicated a 12 month phase in period once the changes are actually passed through parliament. So realistically we would be looking at being able to use the new rules from some point in 2018, at which time we would be able to source and import 1993 and older models. This depends on parliament which we all know can take longer than expected.

Import duty — the 5% import duty will be removed for those countries with which Australia has a Free Trade Agreement, such as Japan. No mention yet of removing the Luxury Car Tax.

General costs — While the duty will no longer apply for most cars, there will still be the usual sourcing and export costs, shipping, GST, minor compliance and registration / on road costs. So any car imported under this rule will really need to be a classic with enthusiast value to make it viable. Australia is NOT going to be flooded with old clunkers as some opposed to these changes would like to vigorously tout.

Given that the overall price of cars in Australia will fall due to the direct import option for many new cars, the only 25+ year old cars financially viable to import will be genuine enthusiast cars in either good condition or intended for loving restoration. No one else will bother as there will be newer, and more advanced and appealing mainstream vehicles available locally for significantly lower prices than these older classics.

The great majority of 25 year rule imports then will see limited daily road use and their impact on Australian roads will be minimal, as will the numbers being imported as they are physically difficult to find in suitable condition.

Providing the 25 year rule maintains the same structure as the previous 15 year rule, that would mean relatively low compliance costs in the order or perhaps $400 to $1,000 depending on the model. The Govt. intends to open dialogue with State and Territory registration authorities to make the compliance and checking process consistent across Australia; this is very welcome and would vastly improve the current system, making it easier, cheaper and more reliable.

Compliance plates — these will no longer be physically fitted to the car, but instead they will be searchable for any vehicle on a publicly accessible online register. This should speed up the compliance process, no more waiting for plates in the post ! Another great improvement.

So here it is, what NEW car models will we have access to ?

For now we will focus on models out of Japan but of course anything 25 years and older from any country should be eligible.

Here are a few models which spring immediately to mind but there will be many others including low production run vehicles which while SEVS eligible, have never been viable for compliance due to the setup costs for that scheme.

You can search for upcoming cars at auctions across Japan and browse 3 months of past auction sales results using our online Auction Search. Feel free to let us know what else you have your eye on !

The Honda NSX (which has to be at the top of the list for popularity) has already been rising in price over the last few years so you’d better get in quick, click here for 1991 – 1993 NSX auction results going back the last 3 months to start your research.

You’ll need at least $40K to $50K to think about importing a good example and with only limited numbers available, demand will quickly push up prices so you’d best organise in advance and plan to store the car for at least a few months in Japan if you want a 1992 / 93 model (yes, we can safely store your 25 year old import car in Japan for you prior to export).

Honda NSX (production 1990-2005)

Honda NSX import 25 year rule

Nissan Skyline R32 GTR

Should you import an R32 GTR now or wait for the 25 Year Rule ?

R32 GTR import

Mitsubishi Starion (last production year 1989 models will become possible to import)

Starion import

JZA70 Supra

JZA70 Supra import

Delta Lancia Integrale

Lancia Integrale import

Suzuki Cappuccino

Cappuccino

Mazda Cosmo

Mazda Cosmo import

Mazda MX-5

MX-5 import

BMW M3 and others

BMW M3 import

Porsche 944 and others

1985 Porsche 944 25 year rule

Mercedes 190E and others

1990 Mercedes-Benz 190E Cosworth Evolution 2 25 year rule

Mitsubishi Cyborg

Mitsubishi Cyborg 25 year rule

Toyota Celica

Celica TA27 25 year rule

Mazda RX-7

1990 Mazda RX-7 25 year rule

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Further reading

Overview Brochure

Info Sheet 1: Full Volume New Vehicles

Info Sheet 2: Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicles

Info Sheet 3: Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme

Info Sheet 4: Concessional Schemes

Info Sheet 5: Personal New Imports

Info Sheet 6: Economic Benefits

Questions and Answers