Shipping Vehicles

Shipping Cars & Vehicles

Vehicles can sometimes feel like extended members of your family, especially when they have sentimental value, but the decision over whether or not to ship them to a foreign country and the procedures involved require careful consideration.

Below you will find a detailed guide on the full procedure – click on each expanding tab – but should you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to contact Magna-Thomson and we will be happy to assist.

Points to Consider Before Deciding to Ship a Motor Vehicle
  • Is the manufacturer represented in the country you are moving to?
  • Is the model you are proposing to send manufactured or obtainable in that country? Remember that even though a similar model may be available, parts may differ in a car manufactured in or for the South African market. Please check this carefully.
  • Are the rules of the road the same viz, left-hand side/right-hand side?
  • Does the country you are going to use miles or kilometres? Apart from being difficult to import, this could affect future resale value of the vehicle in that country.
  • Is the car easily insurable in that country or will your premiums be loaded for driving a foreign car? Remember to get a claims history letter from your insurer.
  • If you are elderly will your age adversely affect the premiums. Check with overseas insurers.
  • Does your vehicle comply with design regulations in the country you are moving to? It is your responsibility to get clarification on this before exporting your vehicle, as well as to obtain any import permits that may be required.
  • Ensure that your tyres, windscreen and seat belts meet standards overseas. For Europe these should have the E-mark (European standard of approval) stamped on headlights etc.
  • Will the vehicle attract any duty or sales tax at destination? Whilst it is no longer necessary for you to have owned the vehicle for at least 12 months in terms of SA regulations before export, there could well be implications at destination. Most countries require you to have owned the vehicle for a period (UK 6 months, Australia & New Zealand 12 months continuous use) failing which duty and/or taxes will become payable, or importation refused. All vehicles entering Australia are dutiable/taxable (except vintage).
  • The testing and modifications required to meet US and Canadian standards are both costly and intensive and make the importation of vehicles into these countries prohibitive. Do not consider shipping unless your vehicle is a vintage or was specifically manufactured for these markets.
  • Remember the British SVA (Single Vehicle Approval) tests and the New Zealand safety checks. For New Zealand, you will need a compliance certificate from your manufacturer.
  • In South Africa you will require an Export Permit and a Police Clearance Certificate before exporting. Read more about vehicle transfer here.
Country-Specific Requirements

The underside of vehicles should be steam cleaned before shipment, especially to Australia or New Zealand.  You should obtain a steam cleaning certificate from a garage.  Australia charges duty and GST on cars and motor vehicles, regardless of the ownership period or your residential status but you must have owned and used the vehicle for an unbroken period of 365 days in South Africa prior to shipment.

Please make sure that your vehicle conforms to the requirements of your country of destination. Please contact us for information on regulations for other countries not listed below.

  • UK: Your vehicle will have to undergo an SVA Test and will require a catalytic convertor.
  • Australia: An import permit is required. Import permits take approximately three months to issue, and Import Permit Applications must now be made online: www.infrastructure.gov.au. The vehicle can only be shipped after this is issued. All motor vehicles are dutiable in Australia, and there are regulations in place regarding the number of immigration points required to import a vehicle to Australia.
  • New Zealand:  A letter of compliance is required from the manufacturer stating that the vehicle complies with worldwide standards.
  • Canada: Unless your vehicle is a vintage, it must have been specifically manufactured for use in North America – otherwise it cannot be shipped.
Police / Engine Clearance Certificate

Motor cars, motorbikes, trailers and off-road bikes all need a police/engine clearance certificate which is valid for 21 days before you leave South Africa.

Before vehicles (motor vehicles, trailers and on road motor vehicles) can go through a Police / Engine Clearance test, they must be micro-dotted by an approved company. Vehicles manufactured in 2012 or later are normally automatically micro-dotted. Vehicles manufactured before that must be micro-dotted by an approved dealer. See http://www.datadot.co.za/police_clearance_centres.php

The following documents need to be taken to the testing station: identity documents, registration certificate and an RPC form which can be obtained at your local traffic department.

Export Permit

All motor cars require an export permit prior to shipment. The permit application can be done online at the ITAC website: www.itac.org.za. Please contact us for additional information regarding this.