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I plan to ship my U500/Unicat to Australia in Jan 2010. It has a placarded GVM of 15 tons. If I were an Australian citizen I would be required to get a Medium Rigid licence even though it's an RV.
Does anyone know if possession of a US drivers' licence and possibly an international licence valid for this vehicle (in the US a normal drivers' licence is sufficient for an RV of whatever weight) is sufficient?
I think you'd better get some advice direct from the traffic authority in the State that you will land your vehicle - and that might change from State to State as well. There might be a different view in each State
If you post which port you will land I can give you a weblink.
I would doubt very much that your licence will be sufficient unless you can get the IDP stamped to include a truck and only present the IDP if stopped. Motorhome owners in Australia have to comply with licence, record keeping and driving hours restrictions based on the weight of their vehicles, but you need to get something in writing to show in the event of being stopped.
Elsewhere on the website they refer to testing requirements for drivers of commercial vehicles who want to swap over an international licence - ordinary car licence can be swapped without a formal test, truck licences require the full test for residents.
Just chatting with my son in law (a policeman) and his view would be that you would need to hold a US truck licence for you to drive the vehicle legally in Australia.
Its the class of vehicle in Australia that you have to comply with. If your driver's licence states "authorised to drive a non commercial vehicle of any weight" then only a minor problem, if it says "a motor car" then you are in strife as there are definitions of what maximum weight a car licence covers - generally upto 4 tonnes tare weight (but varies slightly from State to State).
I would imagine that the compulsory 3rd party insurers will insist on you providing evidence of having an appropriate licence as well.
Your case is just rare enough as to make sure that everyone checks that they have it correct.
Really best to shoot off an email and ask for a determination in writing.
Thanks very much for the supportive advice.
Incidentally, fuel prices are the least of my concerns. I will spend more on shipping than I ever would on fuel. You can't fret too much about fuel prices if you're going to own a Unicat.
Ideally I'd like to leave the truck in Oz for up to 3 years if Customs will let me and "commute" back and forth to my job in Alaska and spend 5-6 months/year in Australia travelling.
You need to look at doing some really serious research on trying to bring a vehicle into Australia for that period of time, its not easy for residents to privately import vehicles let alone overseas visitors.
Customs need to give the OK for the vehicle to remain in Aus, which I would assume means either depositing the duty and GST (about 25% of the vehicle's value) with them or buying three years worth of customs carnets in the USA.
Federal Department of Infrastructure would have to OK the design of the vehicle left here for more than 1 year - vehicles under 30 years old must have right hand drive is one rule that will be hard to comply with. Do a weblookup on "Australian Design Rules" which the vehicle would have to comply with.
An Australian state would have to be prepared to register it - but cant if the vehicle has not been "imported".
Insurance companies would have to be prepared to insure it for compulsory third party.
I think you'd save yourself a bucket load of heartache and buy a 4x4 motorhome in Aus - which is exactly what the legislators want you to do
Buying a vehicle is not an option, since I'm planning to travel thru Asia to Europe afterwards.
Actually I was thinking about 1 year in Oz which isn't hard with a carnet. But I read a post somewhere that a (presumably LHD) Bremach camper spent 2-1/2 years down there and was recently shipped back to Europe out of Fremantle, so it got me thinking.
I am going to go the carnet route.
If you are visiting Australia on a vacation, you may temporarily import your vehicle to Australia by presenting a valid Carnet de Passage en Duane to the Australian Customs Service at the port where the vehicle arrives in Australia.
A carnet is similar to a personal passport and contains all the relevant information about the vehicle - make, model, colour, engine capacity, seating capacity, registration number, owner and value. Carnets can be obtained for motor vehicles, motorcycles, campervans, four wheel drive vehicles, caravans and trailers.
Your Vehicles' Carnet must be obtained from the motoring organisation in your country of residence before you leave home. (For USA residents, carnets are available from the Canadian Automobile Association in Ottawa.)
Conditions of Use
A carnet is valid for 12 months from the date of issue.
Vehicles imported under a carnet may not be lent, sold, mortgaged, hired, exchanged, given away or otherwise disposed of while in Australia;
The vehicle must be exported from Australia prior to or on the expiry date of the carnet; and
The vehicle that is covered by a carnet must not remain in Australia when the owner is not in Australia.
Vehicles imported without a Carnet will not be permitted to clear customs until an import approval is issued. Import approvals can only be issued in accordance with the circumstances set out in the Regulations as documented in this bulletin.
If you do not meet any of the circumstances, an import approval will not be issued and you will be required to have your vehicle exported or destroyed at your own expense. Note: this Office does not issue Carnets and is unable to assist with any questions on Carnets, please contact your motoring organisation in your country for the issuing of a Carnet and information on a Carnet.
And this is from Customs
Tourists and Temporary Residents Section 162 - Import Declaration Required/VIA Required
As a tourist or temporary resident, you may bring a road vehicle to Australia for a period of up to 12 months without payment of duty and taxes, provided a VIA is obtained prior to your importation. Your road vehicle must be subsequently exported from Australia within the approved time limit. All fittings and accessories imported with the road vehicle must also be exported with the same road vehicle.
Approval for temporary imports is granted under Section 162 of the Customs Act 1901 (the Act). Goods that qualify as temporary imports can be imported under:
a security or undertaking, equal to the amount of duty and GST and if applicable, LCT that would be payable on importation. The security may be in the form of cash or a bank guarantee.
Under provisions set out in the Act, on application, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Customs may extend the period of temporary importation. Applications to extend this period must be made prior to the expiry of the temporary importation period.
If your road vehicle is not exported within the approved time limit, you will forfeit the security. This also applies where the road vehicle is lost or stolen and therefore unable to be exported when required.
If you remain in Australia and you decide to keep your road vehicle with you, you may apply to have your import declaration amended. This will create a duty and tax liability which you are required to pay to finalise your importation. To organise a refund of the security you will need to advise Customs that you have amended your import declaration and paid the duty and GST. Section 162A - Import Declaration Not Required/VIA Not Required
Under section 162A of the Act commercial samples, professional equipment, scientific equipment and goods for display or use at exhibitions, fairs, meetings or similar events can be imported under:
an ATA carnet (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) issued by Chambers of Commerce under the ATA Convention or the Convention on Temporary Admission (otherwise known as the Istanbul Convention).
Section 162A also provides for a private road vehicle to be imported under:
a CPD (Carnet de Passages En Douanes) carnet issued by an overseas organisation which has a reciprocal arrangement with the Australian Automobile Association (AAA); and for
the specified period.
A CPD carnet allows for the temporary admission of your road vehicle without the payment of duties or taxes and without the requirement for a VIA. For a CPD carnet, approval is required from:
the Australian guaranteeing body (AAA);
the carnet issuing body overseas.
You may extend the period of importation provided under a CPD carnet by submitting an application to the relevant Guarantee Association. An extension must be approved by the CEO of Customs prior to the expiry of the original approval.
That's good, the carnet is the way to go; I can get one thru the Canadian Automobile Association. They look like they are extendable and the Aus. regulations would then allow a longer stay.
However: I was hoping to continue to work intermittently at my high paying job, spending 2-3 months in Australia and then returning to Alaska for 2-3 months. It looks like that's a violation of carnet conditions. I will have to make a call to a customs official and find out if that condition is written in stone or just on paper.
In theory I think the Carnet would be okay with you going backwards and forwards. Amongst other things, it would be hard for anyone to spot as, by virtue of using your carnet, there isn't anything in your passport. hence when you are passing backwards and forwards, they aren't going to know you have a vehicle - in other countries I've had a record of the vehicle put in my passport which is much harder as very difficult to leave without it.
Extending the Carnet may resolve the 12 month limitation, the other way would be to extend the carnet but take the U500 over to New Zealand and then come back in. There is a weekly ferry/cargo ship between Sydney and NZ. Means you get to a do a brief tour then come back and probably makes the paperwork alot easier with Aus - eg doing 2 x 12 months rather than trying to deal with getting exemptions to stay longer.
In respect of the license, as long as your US licence legally allows you to drive that class of vehicle, then I think you would be fine. The only complication would be if the license doesn't explicitly show it but if you have the supporting paperwork then that should be fine.
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