Shipping of Imported Cars

How to Ensure Safe and Secure Shipping of Imported Cars: A Comprehensive Guide for Australians

Importing a car from overseas, particularly from Japan, can be an exciting prospect for car enthusiasts in Australia. However, ensuring your prized possession’s safe and secure shipping is crucial to avoid any unpleasant surprises. This article provides a comprehensive guide to ensuring your imported car arrives at your doorstep without a hitch.

Understand the Import Regulations in Australia

  1. Research Import Rules and Regulations: Familiarize yourself with Australia’s import regulations and restrictions. You can visit websites such as for detailed information. These rules may vary depending on the vehicle’s age, make, and model. For detailed information, visit the Australian Government’s Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, and Communications website.
  2. Apply for a Vehicle Import Approval (VIA):Before shipping your car, you must obtain a Vehicle Import Approval from the Department of Infrastructure. The process may take several weeks, so start early to avoid delays.

Choose the Right Shipping Method

  1. Roll-On/Roll-Off (RORO) Shipping: RORO is a cost-effective method where your car is driven onto the ship and secured on the vessel’s deck. While this method is generally safe, your vehicle is exposed to the elements during transit.
  2. Container Shipping: A more secure option, container shipping involves placing your car in a sealed container. This method offers better protection from weather conditions but may be more expensive than RORO shipping.
  3. Shared or Dedicated Container: If you opt for container shipping, you can choose between a shared container (with other vehicles) or a dedicated container (exclusively for your car). While sharing a container may reduce costs, a dedicated container offers more security and protection.

Prepare Your Car for Shipping

  1. Clean Your Car Thoroughly: Before shipping your car, give it a thorough cleaning, both inside and out. This will make it easier to spot any pre-existing damages and prevent quarantine delays due to dirt or contaminants.
  2. Document Your Car’s Condition: Take detailed photos of your car from various angles, including the interior, exterior, and engine. Document any pre-existing scratches, dents, or other damages. This helps you file a claim if your vehicle is damaged during transit.
  3. Remove Personal Items and Valuables: Empty your car of personal belongings, valuables, and any aftermarket accessories that could be damaged or stolen during shipping. The shipping company is not responsible for any lost or damaged items left in the vehicle.
  4. Perform Basic Maintenance: Before shipping, check fluid levels, tire pressure, and battery charge. Ensure your car is in good working order to avoid any issues during loading and unloading.

Insure Your Vehicle

  1. Check Your Existing Insurance: Review your current auto insurance policy to determine if it covers international shipping. If it doesn’t, you may need to purchase additional coverage.
  2. Purchase Marine Insurance: Consider buying a marine insurance policy to protect your vehicle from potential damages during transit. This coverage can provide protection against theft, vandalism, and accidents while your car is en route to Australia.

Monitor the Shipping Process

  1. Stay in Touch with Your Shipping Company: Maintain regular communication with your shipping company to get updates on your car’s journey. A reputable company will provide you with a tracking number, allowing you to monitor your vehicle’s progress.
  2. Be Prepared for Arrival: Once your car arrives in Australia, it must pass through customs and quarantine inspections. Ensure you have all the necessary documentation, such as the Vehicle Import Approval, Bill of Lading, and proof of ownership, ready for a smooth process.

Perform a Thorough Inspection upon Arrival

  1. Examine Your Vehicle: As soon as your car is offloaded from the shipping vessel, perform a thorough inspection. Compare its current condition to the documented pre-shipping condition. Look for any new scratches, dents, or damages that may have occurred during transit.
  2. Report Any Issues Immediately: If you discover any damage or discrepancies, report them immediately to your shipping company and insurance provider. The sooner you report the issues, the easier it will be to file a claim and resolve the matter.
  3. Take Your Car for a Post-Shipment Inspection: After receiving your imported car, take it to a reputable mechanic for a comprehensive inspection. This will ensure that the vehicle is safe to drive and meets Australian safety standards.


Shipping an imported car to Australia, particularly from Japan, can be a complex process. You can ensure safe and secure delivery by understanding the import regulations, choosing the right shipping method, preparing your car for shipping, insuring your vehicle, and staying in touch with your shipping company. Don’t forget to thoroughly inspect your car upon arrival and address any issues promptly to protect your investment and enjoy your new ride.