Important Rules for Importing Vehicles Manufactured before 1st January 1989

When vehicles in a country are safe, road accidents in the country are minimised.

Australia has stringent rules regarding imported vehicles due to which their manufacturers have to certify them as complying with the Australian environmental and safety standards and approve them to be fitted with identification plates.


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The Australian government has set only a limited number of options for motor vehicles imported to Australia that haven’t been certified against the safety standards.

When you import cars with the help of Import Direct Car Sales, you can rest assured about following all the government rules.

The government rules are different for different categories of vehicles. Here we’ll discuss about vehicles manufactured before 1989 which is an important category.

The option for vehicles manufactured before 1989 is covered by Regulation 17 of the 1989 Motor Vehicle Standards Regulations.


The purpose of this option is to allow the importation of road automobiles not fitted with identification plates if they were produced before 1st January 1989.

It caters for the importation of older automobiles including classic, historic or enthusiastic motor vehicles that are designed for refurbishment and hobby use in car clubs.

It allows the importation of automobiles which don’t comply with the present Australian vehicle standards and are hence outside regular certification arrangements.

Nevertheless, State and Territory registration rules will usually need the vehicle/s to comply with the standards that were applicable at the date the automobile was first manufactured.

You can obtain further details from the relevant State or Territory registration authority.

Heavy vehicles may have different requirements about which you’ll have to contact the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR).


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Date of Manufacture Matters

The date of manufacture is the date at which the automobile was first driven or moved from the manufacturer’s facility after its body shell as well as powertrain assemblies were connected.

This corresponds to the concept of build date (in the Australian automobile sector). To be eligible for this option, the date of manufacture of the vehicle should be before 1st January 1989.

If a vehicle’s parts manufactured before 1st January 1989 were fitted in another vehicle, the date of manufacture is considered to be the date on which the new vehicle was first driven.

Thus even if the parts were manufactured before 1st January 1989 but the vehicle into which they were fitted was manufactured after 1st January 1989, the vehicle won’t qualify under this option.


You should remember some important considerations while planning American car imports in Australia.

While making the evaluation, the Department identifies that the older enthusiast vehicles may have had enhancements and/or restorations made all through the life of the vehicles and hence may not be in original specification.

If the modifications/restorations are within the original specification of the vehicle’s make and model, the vehicle will often be considered to be an older vehicle.

Even if newly manufactured parts were fitted in it, this evaluation won’t generally change.

However, if a vehicle has undergone extensive modifications after 1st January 1989 that considerably change the original specifications and/or performance of the car cannot be imported under the pre-1989 import option.

If you’ll be importing a vehicle manufactured before 1st January 1989, you should study these factors, so that your importation can be smoothly handled.