Thinking of importing a used car from Japan to Australia?? 

If you are thinking of importing a car from Japan to Australia, and it is your first time in doing so, unfortunately you are probably now informed that the process is COMPLICATED with STRICT regulations. To best avoid the risk of getting into trouble and making a costly mistake, we are here to help you gain knowledge in importing cars to Australia. Our goal as well is to make the ride of successfully purchasing and importing a car from Japan as smooth as possible with our 27 years of exporting experience with free advice. 


Importing used cars from Japan to Australia .. a long and changing history.

Why is it so complicated and strict?!

Historically Australia has been a very protected market, especially when compared to New Zealand which opened it’s doors for Japanese used car imports way back in around 1990.  First they had to protect the Holden and Ford factories from “cheap imports”.  Then they had to subsidise the Japanese makers to keep assembling vehicles in Australia.  Protectionism as economists all declare, never works: Holden folded, Ford nearly pulled out over large losses, even with HUGE Australian government subsidies to keep them going.  The Japanese car makers closed their plants in Australia. After billions of dollars of subsidies from the Australian government, the overall cost to the average Australian car buyer was only higher compared to an open market like New Zealand.

But perhaps the market has cracked open a little larger … still with strings and the smell of protectionism (hard to get rid of bad habits).


Researching for a vehicle to import? Then it is critical to understand the REGULATIONS.  

All vehicles to be imported to Australia must be eligible with the administrative ROVER (Rode Vehicle Regulator) system.  Active since 1 July 2021, the current Road Vehicle Standards Act 2018 (RVSA) replaced the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 (MVSA) with the aim to support safety, environmental and anti-theft performances goals in Australia. To support the mentioned objectives, these regulations are enforced upon all imported vehicle’s arriving into Australia, so the policy applies to ALL imported vehicles from countries other than Australia.

All vehicle to be imported to Australia must be eligible with administrative ROVER (Rode Vehicle

  1.  Older than 25 years old
  2.  Personal import scheme
  3.  Racing / rallying purposes 
  4.  SEVs  


First of all, if the vehicle is LESS than 25 years old, THERE ARE CONDITIONS.

If the “less than 25 year old car” was sold new in Australia, it CAN NOT be imported, outside of the private import scheme. I suppose this is step 1, “conduct research” on what models can be imported.  There are exceptions if you don’t mind driving your sports car on a race or rally track and NOT to work each day.

This method of importing your car, which happens to be less than 25 years old, is called the SEVs (specialist and enthusiast vehicles) scheme. Perhaps the MOST important link in this whole page for this type of importing is right here:

Second, the PIS or personal import scheme.

Back in the day, 1000s of cars made there way to Australia through this scheme. Even Kiwi’s (not even living or planning on living in Australia) were able to jump on this bandwagon (they could potentially live in Australia).  Since then the requirements for this scheme have become a lot stricter.  What used to be one car per year has now become one car every 5 years. Proof of ownership in the foreign country (like the original registration document and insurance documents in your name) also have become stricter.

Third, importing for racing or rallying.

You need to be CAMS licenced (Confederation of Australian Motorsport) to import a car for racing or rallying purposes in Australia.

Fourth, the SEVs scheme … search

The specialist and enthusiast vehicles register search engine

SEVs is the main avenue that people import vehicles for everyday use into Australia and is the probably reason that you happened upon this page as well as WHAT WE DO, exporting cars from Japan.

According to the official government site there are 8 steps to importing a vehicle, from anywhere in the world.

  1. Conduct research (YOU)
  2. Apply for an approval to import a vehicle (YOU)
  3. Receive approval to import a vehicle  (YOU)
  4. Arrange shipping of a vehicle (WE do this)
  5. Get Customs clearance (We do this in Japan, YOU do this in Australia)
  6. Meet Australian quarantine requirements (WE arrange this in Japan)
  7. Meet approval conditions (WE check YOU on this (Chassis code type))
  8. Register the vehicle (YOU)

Sounds simple? Sounds like you could import ANY car of your choice?  Not exactly, not exactly at all.

Also more Australian government explanations, very detailed, on this page

Basically, the car must have had a 3 month birthday since it was made, which is not an issue in the Japanese auctions as you will not find a vehicle less than 3 months since it’s date of build for sale.  (Japan bases the vehicles age on the first date of registration NOT the date of build).

As mentioned on the above Australian government link a car model type can get permission if “high performance, low emissions or accessibility features but are not otherwise provided to the Australian market.”  High performance = sports cars not sold on the Australian market. Different engine models than models sold in Australia. Turbo charged when the Australian sold model was not?   Low emissions = basically being electric vehicles or hybrid vehicles, not sold on the Australian market. Accessibility = disability adjusted/supportive vehicles.


For example … Toyota Crown is sold new in Australia. However, the car like image below Toyota Crown with chassis type GSR204 it is still importable as the model with the 2GR-FSE 3.5 Lt V6 engine is not sold in the Australian Market. Hence although importing cars to Australia may feel restricted, there may be more room for opportunities than you may realise. Additionally, working with company like us with 27 years of exporting Japanese cars to Australia experience, we hope to make your experience in importing cars to Australia a smooth ride.

Toyota Crown chassis type GRS204





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