One of the loneliest places on Earth is a Customs compound at the far end of a windswept wharf where the Personal Import cars sit in cages like lost dogs awaiting collection by their owners, As a valuer of vehicles that first turned a wheel in disparate parts of the planet I have seen all manner of vehicle arrive on Australian wharves, intent on making new lives in Australia alongside their owners.
Some very obviously are accompanying their owners for sentimental rather than commercial reasons. Others were quite obviously being bought by returning travellers for eventual resale and a few among them had led interesting lives. They included a Jaguar delivered new in Bulgaria that arrived here via New Zealand and a South African Porsche with stickers indicating it had competed in motor sporting events throughout the Middle East and Asia.
If you live in a country such as Japan or Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Africa or the UK and are migrating to Australia, bringing a car that’s hard to find here might seem a good idea. Then you are handed a pile of papers to complete, lists of cleaning and fumigation requirements plus a big bill.
Today the requirements have expanded to include certification that privately imported vehicles are free of asbestos. This deadly material can be concealed in old brake linings, clutches and gaskets and there are big fines for breaches and plus compulsory and costly dismantling of suspect vehicles.
Once the car is Customs Cleared, the hunt is on to find an insurer. Always a good idea to start making enquiries while your vehicle is still ‘on the water’ but a lot of owners don’t. That’s when you contact Enthusiast.
If the car is similar to those that were sold in Australia then it very likely will be on Enthusiast’s Online vehicle listings. If it isn’t then 1800 10 10 44 is the number to call for Customer Support. You will need to give our Consultant the vehicle brand, model, year built, VIN and the country of origin. All of that information will be on the documentation lodged by your Customs Agent or vehicle importer.
Tourist Delivery vehicles aren’t as common as they once were, however it is still possible to buy directly from some European manufacturers an Australian-compliant car, use it for 12 months or more while living overseas then bring it back to Australia without needing to fulfil the same criteria as a commercial importer.
Assessing the value of imports can be difficult, but that is where an experienced specialist insurer like Enthusiast is important. The Landed Value used by Customs to determine any duties or other charges payable provides a guide but may not reflect recent changes in the market.
A few owners believe that because it is rare, their imported model should be worth the same or more than similar cat with Australian compliance. The used vehicle market disagrees and trading in a personal import will generally produce a price around 30 percent below what a dealer will pay for the local equivalent.