Importing Bikes Into Australia

See also: Riding in Australia if you're Foreign.
The best official source of information is the Vehicle Importing and Certification page at the Australian Department of Transport and Regional Services.

The information below is gleaned largely from two articles by Tom Cohen and Mark Cadle.

[ Organised info to go here - for now you'll have to read the articles, which I've at least marked up...
- Cameron ]

Importing your bike

Thomas Cohen <> remarks:
We have the books at home for importing vehicles into Oz if anything is needed on that front.
Patrick Jordan <> opines:
What may well be more of a problem is the importation of the bike itself. I'd think very carefully about that. First there will be freight costs, plus potential damage (esp corrosion) to the bike while it is in transit, then import duty, and, if you want to sell the bike while you're here (maybe you don't - just warning you) you will need to aquire an Australian Compliance Plate, which can be quite expensive.

I just mention all this, cause a guy at work brought an Enfield with him from India, and ended up costing him a fair bit. It may well be much more efficient to buy a bike when you get here, and sell it when you leave.

Eric Fogelin (an American working at Microsoft) said:
Lots of things this bloke needs to check.
Licensing varies from state to state. I have ridden in NSW on my US drivers license. Technically, you need to get a NSW license if you are in the state for more than 3 continuous months (I think). Since I go between the US and Australia often, (I think) that makes me exempt. NSW recognizes foreign (US/Europe) motorcylce endorsements, so I didn't have to start on a 250 with an L-Plate. Just rode my 750 from day one.
Importing a bike can be a nightmare. If you are an Aussie, all Aussies have a one personal import allowance. So, an Aussie living in UK could easily bring one Triumph back to Oz without any fuss. Foreign commies like blokes from Canada and the US have to jump through hoops.

If you will only be in Australia for one year or less, then you can easily obtain a Carne de Passage (some French-like spelling). This is what racers use to bring their bikes into the country. You can't sell your bike, it would be expected that you will take the bike out with you.

If it is more than one year or want to sell in Oz after you've put a billion klicks on the bike, then you need to import the bike. You should take care of all paperwork *before* having the bike shipped to Australia or customs will not clear the bike (mine was locked up for 8 months while I did paperwork). You will also probably have to have the bike modified (lowbeam headlight dips to left in Oz, is straight in US, don't know about Canada). But most importantly, you need to be issued an Australia Compliance plate that you stick to the frame. And to get this plate for a single motorcycle, it is really necessary for Australia to already be importing the same model. Probably okay with your VFR.

It could take months to get the paperwork done. But since bike and car prices seem to be 1.5 to 2 times more than in the US, it still may be worth the effort.

Getting the Compliance Plate will mean working with Canberra (government) and Honda main office in Australia. I can provide more details if necessary.

RAAF Because this appears to be a military exchange program, this guy may be exempt from everything. Import what he wants, ignore all state license issues, etc. So, he should check with the department handling his move in Canada as well as the RAAF and see what's what.

Helen Fleming <> says:
As to importing a bike whilst you're not a permanent resident - Aaaaaargggh. Unless being in the forces allows special treatment its a real hassle, or so we've found so far and the bike we imported is 1949 so it doesn't even need compliance! Si can provide further details on this if wanted.

Reference News Articles

Re: Unleaded fuel stickers

From: (Tom Cohen)
Subject: Re: Unleaded fuel stickers
Message-ID: <>
Organization: Wormald Technology, Sydney, Australia
References: <4f7k4b$> <> <4fc0rh$> <> <4fgf7a$>
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 1996 22:45:48 GMT
Zebee Johnstone ( wrote:
Tom Cohen ( wrote:
Shouldn't even need to talk fast - just remind them that personal imports don't need to comply with ADRs and then zoom off. Which
Hmm.. from what I can see from what FORS says, this isn;t strictly true.

Something with a personal import plate on it should be OK, but just cos its a personal import doesn't mean it doesn't have to comply with some rules. However I'm not sure from my inof *which* ADRs it has to comply with. Caveat Emptor and all that.

As far as I can remember from the paperwork that the RTA sent me when I asked about it, a private import that you've owned AND USED for three months or more overseas, can be registered in NSW without having to comply with any ADRs. (sounds like a way for a wealthy person to get his Ferrari F40 road-registered - or perhaps an NSR500). Obviously it would have to have lights and horn etc. I wonder what rules they invoke for that?

If you've owned it less than three months, or just buy it and ship it in, it must comply with ADRs current at the time of manufacture. If you modify a vehicle significantly enough, (and I don't quite know what that means with regard to a 'bike), the vehicle must comply with all current ADRs.

To signify that a vehicle complies with ADRs, you can get a letter of compliance from the manufacturer; or a compliance plate if it does indeed comply (but this is apparently difficult to get, because they don't like giving them out); or arrange to have the bike inspected and brought into compliance by an appropriate person over here, at the end of which you'll have a compliance plate.

This may all be moot, because the Honda doesn't seem to have a personal import plate on it anyway. Maybe I can put a 2LS drum brake on it, and pretend that it's an early 60s bike?

Regarding loud exhausts, even if you weren't bound by ADR39a, in any case you can't have a bike louder than 100dB(A). I think I'd just like something with a bit more authority.

Zebee again:

(note - a personal import is one you brought back from overseas that you and registered is apparently considered to be ADR compliant)
Well, no. But it is considered to be registerable, in NSW at least.


thos  - Tom Cohen            |          | "Below 9000 it's very boring.  Above 10000 it's
Wormald Technology Pty Ltd   |  very expensive"  - Nick Mason,  about the 
Ph:+61 2 9981 0611           |           narrow power band of the BRM V16.

Re: Buy a bike overseas?

From: Dacious <>
Subject: Re: Buy a bike overseas?
Date: 21 Nov 1995 23:14:35 GMT
Message-ID: <48tmgr$>
References: <>
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If you own a registered vehicle for two years overseas you can bring it back without paying import duty. If not, it's 20% (I think). I doubt this would make it an economic proposition along with transport & insurance costs, especially for what you're buying.This law changed a few years back - you used to be able to bring in bikes free of duty but the Guvmint decided they're luxury items and charges the highest cost. Besides, the bikes you mentioned are probably dearer in Europe, even secondhand.This would only be sensible if you were bringing back something exotic and very valuable. Plus any bike you brought in would need an ADR plate before Customs will release it which would not be forthcoming from the distributors here - there are different bikes for different markets and they see it as not in their interests to help you circumvent the normal import process. Go overseas, but buy your bike when you get back.