What is customs value?

When a vehicle is imported to Australia, its value is assessed by Australian Customs to determine the duties and taxes that must be paid by the importer before the vehicle is released. This is colloquially known as the customs value, and is calculated on the vehicle value, its shipping cost and its marine insurance cost. Once the customs value has been assessed, Customs Duty of 5% (unless built and imported from a country where a Free Trade Agreement is in place), GST of 10%, and Luxury Car Tax of 33% of every dollar over the LCT threshold, is applied and is payable by the importer.

It’s worth noting that these duties and taxes are applied to almost all vehicles, irrespective of which import scheme is used to obtain the import approval, and irrespective of whether the importer has owned and used the vehicle overseas. There are some situations where exemptions are granted, such as if the importer has exported the vehicle from Australia and is reimporting it, but they are rare and, ironically, Customs can still request a valuation be provided in these situations.

Why bother getting a valuation?

The basic purpose of a valuation is to arrive at an assessed value that is fair to both the importer and to Australian Customs. Working on the theory that all vehicles depreciate in value over time, it would be unfair on most importers to use the purchase invoice as the vehicle value if the car has since depreciated since that time. Likewise, it would be unfair on Australian taxpayers (not to mention illegal) if importers were to deliberately falsify purchase documents to reduce their tax bills upon the vehicle’s arrival. A valuation is an independent and unbiased assessment.

When does my car need a customs valuation?

As a general rule, Australian Customs will request a valuation be completed if the vehicle has been owned and used overseas by the importer, or if a long time has elapsed between purchasing the vehicle and assessing its value upon arrival in Australia. A valuation can often be requested if the purchase invoice doesn’t accurately reflect the value of the vehicle, or if a vehicle has been donated or bequeathed as part of a family member’s estate.

My customs broker hasn’t asked me to get a valuation certificate. Can I still request one?

Yes you can. You just need to make sure that you request it far enough ahead of the vehicle’s arrival that you can send it through to your customs broker to use when completing the customs entry. If your circumstances don’t warrant or permit a valuation being used, we will advise you before we begin.

Is a customs valuation the same as a market valuation?

No, which is why we often get frustrated when customs brokers use current market value for their clients rather than requesting a proper valuation. Working out the customs value of a vehicle allows for a range of deductions from the market value, meaning the importer will generally save money by supplying a valuation. Generally, the more expensive the vehicle, the more significant the saving. If we don’t feel as though a valuation is a cost-effective option for your particular circumstances, we will advise you of this before beginning.

I just bought a car overseas and I’m importing it. Can I get it valued?

Not normally, no. If the vehicle has been recently purchased, Australian Customs will use the purchase invoice as the basis for the customs value. Under some circumstances, Australian Customs can request a valuation be completed (hint: it’s usually if they think the purchase invoice value is not accurate).

How far ahead of the vehicle arriving can I request a valuation?

We recommend sending through your request form a week or two before the vehicle is due to arrive, while it is ‘on the water’. That way you can supply it to your customs broker before they submit their customs entry.

How is the customs value determined?

There are a range of different methods and tools we have at our disposal to assess vehicles. While it’s not possible to go into great detail about the methods we use, it’s important to note that if Australian Customs disagrees with our assessment, they can request that we provide them our calculations. Thankfully, our calcuation processes are robust, so this happens very rarely. Australian Customs can also request a second opinion from another valuer if they still believe the customs value is incorrect. If this were to occur, we would refund you the cost of the valuation certificate.

I just bought a car overseas that originally came from Australia. Do I have to pay taxes on it again?

Yes, unless you were the person who sent the vehicle overseas in the first place (and can provide evidence that this was the case).

I disagree with the valuation. What do I do?

If the customs value listed on your valuation certificate is not what you expected, feel free to contact us. It may be because there are some details that weren’t known or included during the initial assessment, and we then need to adjust our calculations accordingly. We cannot amend the customs value simply because you think it’s ‘a bit higher than I’d hoped’.

There is a mistake on my valuation. Can I get it rewritten?

Of course. If we have made a mistake, we will amend it free of charge. If you have provided incorrect data, we are happy to amend your certificate for $55 (inc GST).

Can AutoValuation provide valuation certificates for other purposes?

Yes. While customs valuations are our forte, we can provide vehicle market valuations for a range of other reasons, including deceased estates, divorce settlements or insurance payouts.

I need help with other parts of the importation process. Can you help?

Yes we can. AutoValuation is part of Auto Services Group, which provides specialised logistics support from anywhere in the world to Australia, and vice versa. If you have purchased a car overseas and aren’t sure what to do next, contact the team at Iron Lady Imports and they can assist you right through getting the vehicle registered in Australia.

Aston Martin DB4 GT Continuation, valued by us upon arrival in Australia.