Import Approval – How to Apply for 25 Year Old Vehicles

25 Year Rule guidelines

The Aust Govt. has provided this 25 Year Rule Vehicle Import – Guidance (PDF) setting out how the new 25 Year Rule will operate under interim arrangements from 10 December 2019, the type of vehicles that can be imported, and how to apply for an Import Approval.

For convenience we have summarised the main points below.

– 1988 and older rule

This existing rule will continue to apply (unchanged) to ALL vehicles built BEFORE 1 January 1989, without restriction of vehicle category.

Import approval applications can still be made by registering here, selecting “I want to import a vehicle manufactured before 1989”, then following the prompts.

Application fee of $50.

– 25 Year Rule

This new rule will apply to all vehicles that are at least 25 years old and were built on or AFTER 1 January 1989.

Application fee of $50.

NOTE – “Significant modifications” may affect whether a vehicle can be imported.

e.g. Different engine – this is OK providing it was a factory optional engine at the time of manufacture, ie. 180SX changed from NA engine to turbo SR20DET engine from the same vehicle model is OK but the same car being fitted with a Skyline GTR RB26DETT engine is not OK.

Roll cages will need to be removed. Slotted / cross-drilled brake rotors are OK as long as they are still the original factory brakes, but aftermarket Brembo brakes or brakes from a different vehicle model would not be OK unless you can prove their age is older than 25 years.

Full bodykits are also listed as a significant modification, although exactly what is meant by this is unclear – ie. widebody kits that require panel modifications versus straight bolt-on replacements of factory bumpers and sideskirts – e.g. Veilside kit.

These are just some common examples of modifications that will affect popular models of the 1990’s.

“Significantly modified” is described in detail on the Govt. website here and the guidelines are also reproduced at the bottom of this post.

Pictures and details must be supplied with the application, and there are significant penalties for false statements.

As the vehicle would usually need to be purchased prior to making an application for Import Approval, we highly recommend erring on the side of caution if there is doubt that it will comply with the requirements of the 25 Year Old rule.

A vehicle must fall within one of the following categories to be eligible for import:

25 Year Rule vehicle categories

Build date will be based on the year of manufacture to the month. Where only the manufacture year is known, December of that year will be used.

NOTE that if the vehicle is “significantly modified”, then the date of the newest modification will be used.

“Significantly modified” is described here and the guidelines are also reproduced at the bottom of this post.

Clearly it may be difficult (or impossible) to identify when modifications were actually made, so it is important to consider this before buying modified vehicles for import under the 25 Year rule.

What Compliance is required for 25 Year Old Imports ?

There are no federal compliance requirements for 25 year old imports, so it is up to the State or Territory registration authority to determine what is required to meet relevant safety regulations for each vehicle at the time of roadworthy inspection.

For most 25 year old vehicles, that would mean a compliance cost of less than $1,000 for items such as child restraint anchorages, 17 digit VIN shown on the body (if not already) and registered engineer’s signoff. In some cases side intrusion bars and retractable seatbelts may be required which would increase the cost.

The Govt. has indicated an intention to open dialogue with State and Territory registration authorities to make the compliance and checking process consistent across Australia; this would be very welcome and would vastly improve the current system but we would not suggest holding your breath for changes anytime soon.

Registration of Left Hand Drive vehicles imported under the 25 Year Rule

How to Apply

Import Approval applications can be made from 10 Dec 2019.

Follow the prompts to register here, then select “I want to import a vehicle manufactured before 1989”:

25 Year Rule uses 1989 and older application

When asked whether you are eligible select ‘No’.

This will prompt the field:

‘You have indicated that you are not eligible to import a vehicle under one or more of the prescribed options. For each of these vehicles, are you prepared to explain why you think an import approval should be issued and attach additional supporting information’. Select ‘Yes’.

Enter the build date of your vehicle.

If your vehicle build is post 1988 you will receive the following message:

‘You have stated that your vehicle was manufactured after 1 January 1989. As such your vehicle is not eligible under this scheme. If you want to try another scheme press back. If you want to continue, please make a statement explaining why you think an import approval should be issued for your vehicle’.

State you are applying to import a vehicle under the: ‘Older than 25 year’ option.

What type of vehicle are you applying for. Select ‘other’

Type in ‘Vehicle Category’ of your vehicle.

If your vehicle is a light goods (commercial) vehicle, provide the gross vehicle mass (GVM) of the vehicle.

You may be asked to provide further evidence to support a vehicle’s claimed build month/year, the GVM, the VIN/Chassis and vehicle category.

Photographs of the front, rear, side, engine bay and interior of the vehicle are required.

These photographs need to be uploaded in a maximum of three separate documents (noting the combined file upload limit of 15 MB for each application).

The photographs should be taken in a well-lit area, be clear and be in colour.

The interior photograph must clearly show the number of seats in the vehicle.

Select whether the vehicle is in original condition: YES / NO.

Enter the make and model.

Upload a photograph of the VIN or chassis number.

If the vehicle is a light commercial vehicle, include evidence of its gross vehicle mass (e.g. registration documents, build plate).

Provide information about the modification(s) and the date the latest modification was completed (see what is considered a significant modification or scroll down to the bottom of this post).

Upload evidence of ownership (e.g. registration or insurance documents, receipts).

If a vehicle has been modified the following additional photographs will be required:

– entire underneath of vehicle while on a hoist including the front bumper, engine, exhaust, transmission, tail shaft, differential, rear bumper, front and rear suspension components, front brakes (with wheels off), rear brakes (with wheels off)

– engine and engine number, and

– chassis modifications and chassis number.

These photographs need to be uploaded in a maximum of three separate documents
(noting the combined file upload limit of 15 MB for each application).

Complete the remaining questions.

The following screen will then display, DO NOT select + to add additional vehicles.

One vehicle per application: under the interim arrangements only one vehicle can be imported per application.

25 year old Confirmation screen 1

Check your application summary and submit your application – you will then be directed to an online payment form to pay the $50 application fee:

25 year old Confirmation screen 2

What modifications will be accepted for 25 Year Old Imports ?

The following guidelines are reproduced from the Dept. of Infrastructure website.

List of Considerations

 

In making the assessment, the Department recognises that older enthusiast vehicles may have had improvements and/or restorations made throughout the life of the vehicle and therefore may not be in original specification. If the restorations/modifications are within the original specification of the make and model the vehicle will usually be considered to remain an older vehicle. The use of newly manufactured components generally will not alter this assessment.

However, vehicles that have had extensive modifications performed after 1 January 1989 that significantly change the original specification and/or performance of the vehicle will not be able to be imported under the pre-1989 import option. These vehicles are considered remanufactured vehicles.

The considerations listed below are evaluated when a vehicle is assessed for eligibility as a pre-89 vehicle. The assessment is based on a combination of both the extent of any modifications to the vehicle and the effect those modifications have on the performance and design of the vehicle.

Please note that notarised statements and/or Statutory Declarations from either the buyer or seller regarding the date certain modifications took place are not sufficient to demonstrate the date without further supporting documentation.

Failure to provide sufficient information to complete a full assessment may result in assessment delays. Please see requirements below for information required.

If you are considering purchasing a modified pre-89 vehicle to import into Australia, please consider the information below and undertake the self-assessment before purchasing the vehicle.

Has the vehicle been converted from left to right hand drive?
Notes: A left to right hand drive conversion is considered a major modification even though the function and performance of the vehicle will remain the same.
Has the body of the vehicle been significantly modified?
Notes:

Body modifications such those listed below are considered significant modifications:

  • Chopped roofs
  • Rear wheel tubs that require modification to the chassis
  • Full body kits
  • Replacement of the front or rear panels with a cowl
  • Extension of the body for limousine use
  • Conversion from one vehicle type to another (e.g. sedan to coupe, coupe into a convertible, wagon to utility)
  • Replacement of the original body with a new/replacement body

 

Minor period type modifications such as flaring of guards to accommodate wider wheels are not generally considered to be significant modifications.

Has the chassis of the vehicle been significantly modified?
Notes:

Chassis modifications such those listed below are considered significant modifications:

  • Addition of roll cages
  • Relocation of suspension location points for geometry changes or to allow for larger section tyres
  • Installation of aftermarket front or rear subframe(s) or cradle(s)
  • Modification of the chassis to accommodate routing of performance exhaust systems
  • Enlargement of transmission tunnels to accommodate non-standard transmissions

 

Addition of brackets for purposes such as a location for anti-roll bars and panhard rods are not generally considered significant modifications.

Does the vehicle have the original engine (or an engine that was an option in this model vehicle)?
Notes:

Engine changes and/or modifications such those listed below are considered significant modifications:

  • Addition or upgrade of turbochargers or superchargers (where the installation is not a factory option)
  • Addition of nitrous oxide injection systems
  • Engine changes to non-standard or non-optional engines
  • Modified engines where the sum of modifications (internal components, induction and exhaust) would significantly increase the output of the standard installation engine
  • The engine type was not available before 1989

 

Newly manufactured (crate engines) are not generally considered to be post-1989 manufacture on the condition that the above conditions do not apply.

Does the vehicle have the original transmission (or a transmission that was optional in this model vehicle)?
Notes:

Gearbox changes such those listed below are considered significant modifications:

  • Replacement of a gearbox that was not available as an option
  • Replacement of a gearbox type that was not available before 1989

 

Gearbox internal changes are not generally considered a significant modification.

Does the vehicle have the original front suspension?
Notes:

Front suspension changes such those listed below are considered significant modifications:

  • Installation of aftermarket suspension systems (e.g. fabricated location members or wishbones)
  • Installation of a suspension system that was not standard on that model vehicle
  • Installation of major suspension components from a different vehicle type
  • Changing or modifying wheel hubs to accommodate components

 

Changes to springs, shock absorbers, anti-roll bars (or installation where none were originally installed) are not generally considered significant modifications.

Does the vehicle have the original steering system?
Notes:

Steering changes such those listed below are considered significant modifications:

  • Conversion from a steering box type (e.g. recirculating ball, worm and peg) to rack and pinion

 

Changes to steering column (e.g. Addition of a collapsible steering column element) or addition of power assisted steering are not generally considered significant modifications.

Does the vehicle have the original rear suspension?
Notes:

Rear suspension changes such those listed below are considered significant modifications:

  • Installation of aftermarket suspension systems (location members)
  • Conversion from one functional type to another (e.g. leaf springs to four or five link live axle)
  • Installation of a suspension system that was not standard or optional on that model vehicle
  • Installation of major suspension components from a different vehicle type
  • Changing or modifying wheel hubs to accommodate components

 

Changes to springs, shock absorbers, anti-roll bars (or installation where none was originally installed) are not generally considered significant modifications.

Does the vehicle have the original rear axle (or an axle that was optional in this model of vehicle)?
Notes:

Rear axles/final drives changes such those listed below are considered significant modifications:

  • Aftermarket final drive axles housings
  • Non-standard or non-optional rear axles
  • Installation of a rear axle/final drive from a different vehicle type

 

Changes to final drive ratio or installation of new-manufacture rear axle assemblies (to original design) are not generally considered significant modifications.

Does the vehicle have the original braking system (or a braking system that was available as an option in this model vehicle)?
Notes:

Braking system changes such those listed below are considered significant modifications:

  • Installation of a braking system (front and/or rear brakes) that was not standard or optional on that model vehicle
  • Changes from drum to disc type braking
  • Installation of an aftermarket braking system (front and/or rear)
  • Dimensional increase of active braking components (disc or drum)
  • Installation of braking components from a different vehicle type
  • Changing or modifying wheel hubs to accommodate components

 

Installation of a brake booster/s (where none was fitted originally) or pressure limiting valves, grooved or drilled discs are not generally considered significant modifications.

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Read about the New Vehicle Import Regulations for Australia here

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