How to import a motorcycle

Queensland Imports

It sounds like a bargain to import a motorcycle from overseas where they may be cheaper, but there are also pitfalls for riders.

Bruce Hartwig, consultant to Queensland Imports, which is one of about 14 federally registered workshops for complying imported used vehicles, says the easiest and cheapest motorcycles to import and comply are in standard trim. “Highly modified choppers are difficult to import and can be very expensive,” he says.

Queensland Imports
Queensland Imports

Even bikes in standard trim may require modification by a company such as Queensland Imports. Most of those compliance changes involve lights (size, colour and distance from the rear of the bike), but may also involve the exhaust, handelbars and number plate holder. He says most are an easy fix, but choppers with a low seat and high bars can be expensive to remedy.

If you are after an historic bike, the news is a little better as bikes made before 1989 are a little easier to comply and those made before 1975 when there were no Australian Design Rules only need a roadworthy certificate.

Costs to comply a bike start at about $2500, which includes fitting new tyres and brake pads, metric speedo, amber indicators and reflectors. Bruce says most people buy bikes from the US and it costs about $1000 to ship from LA. “You can get cheaper quotes, but check whether it includes quarantine and other fees,” he warns. You will also need to pay GST on the landed cost of the bike.

He says that these costs make it unviable to import cheap bikes. He says the general rule of thumb is that if it’s $5000 cheaper than you can get it in Australia, it’s viable if the current exchange rate is good. It becomes unviable when the Australian dollar is below 80c.

“More expensive bikes are better value, but it depends on their accessories, mileage and the rarity of the bike. Some people want to import Royal Enfields from India, but you can buy them here for under $5000.” He says the most popular brands to import are Harley-Davidson and Ducati.

Bruce Hartwig at Queensland Imports
Bruce on one of his Runes

Qld Imports can also find suitable vehicles, buy them, ship them, handle all the compliance issues and even deliver them to the new owner. The whole process can take up to 10 weeks.

All vehicles to be imported into Australia require an Import Approval. They can be imported under the Specialist and Enthusiasts Vehicle Schemes (SEVS) for modified performance machines or as an unrestricted vehicle through the Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme (RAWS) using a company such as Queensland Imports.

Bruce is a rider and collector of bikes, some of which he plans to sell. They include two Honda Runes, a Heritage Softail, a Ducati Diavel, BMW R 1150R, Kawasaki Mean Streak, Honda Goldwing and a three-wheeler Grinnall Scorpion powered by a BMW K100 engine.

He owns a business, Sapid, which does testing and approvals for modifications – such as single seat modifications for cheaper registration in Queensland and trike conversions – and individually constructed vehicles which can be motorcycles using an Australian or imported frame, or trikes or sidecars, or wheelchair sidecars.

Vehicles which can be imported under SEVS are on the SEVS register. However, being on this list does not mean that anyone has actually done the testing to allow them to be sold as used imports.

Vehicles on the unrestricted imports list are mainly motorcycles and are mainly from mainstream manufacturers.

Email Bruce with you queries about importing bikes:

Queensland Imports can comply the following motorcycles:

Motortrike V Rod
Harley Softail
Harley Dyna
Harley Rocker
Harley Sportster
Harley Touring
V Rod
Honda Rune
Ducati 1098/1198
Indian Chief
Indian Spirit
Bimota YB9 SRI
Yamaha V Max
Kawasaki VN1600
Iron Horse Classic
Victory Vegas
Tri Glide Trike
Yamaha R1
Boss Hoss
Motortrike Gold Wing
Ducati 907
Street Glide Trike
Norton Commando
Yamaha XV1900
Ducati 996/998
Taurus GG
Ducati Streetfighter
Yamaha VMX17
Thunder Mountain Custom Black Hawk
Big Dog Motorcycles Ridgeback
American Iron Horse Stalker
Kawasaki Vulcan VN2000
Big Dog Motorcycles Bull Dog
Big Dog Motorcycles Mastiff
Ducati Multistrata  1200
Honda VFR1200
Harley Davidson Dyna FL
Ducati GT1000
Rewaco RF1
Honda Goldwing
Boom Trike


  1. Hallo. I have nine Kawasaki Z1300 which I want to take from South Africa Cape town to Perth when I immigrate soon. All registeted on my name and owned 12 months and longer. 1979 models to 1982. I have collected and repaired all. Will I be able to bring them into Australia and with my extra parts for them.

  2. I`m a man from Norway who thinking about getting my motorbike from Norway to Nakuru. Where can I get rules for that, and also cost about it.
    Can you help me?

  3. Hi Bruce I’m looking to import a vespa 1966 150cc from the US, its been fully restored and valued at $3800 on eBay, just checking if you could ship it in and what would i be looking at to get it my hands after all the fees, As don’t want find out that I have to pay later to get it out of the docks hehe. cheers mate

  4. Hi im after some info can i import vw boom trike parts only into Australia as that’s what we need to rebuild my own trike

    1. Hi Vicki,
      You need to click on the hyperlink for Queensland Imports in the second paragraph of the article. That will send you to an email and you can then ask them the question.

  5. Hello Bruce

    I am relocating to Sydney in August from New Zealand. I dont want to leave my lovely Triumph Thruxton back home. Unfortunately I have owned the bike for less than 12 months to import it myself. The Dept of Infrastructure Aus suggested that i use the Registered Automotive Workshop to get my bike imported and tested in Australia. Could you please recommend how i should go about this.. If you have any contacts in Sydney whom i could call and discuss this it would be much appreciated.. Kind Regards


  6. Hi, My name is Will and I am a student currently living in Beijing, PRC. There is a 10ish year old chinese motorbike that I would like to purchase from a friend leaving China to return to America in the aim of fixing it up and bringing it home to Australia with me (Queensland). I suppose the main question is the likelihood of such a motorbike being allowed as it is a left hand drive beast with a side car.

  7. Hello, I will be entertaining the idea or importing a Yamaha/Star raider towards the middle to latter part of the year.
    Could you give me a rough estimate of what this will cost me, the best place to look for bikes to import through your
    company, compliance etc? I live in Sydney.

  8. HI Mark, i am wanting to to a road trip across America on a bike. I was wondering whether it would be viable to ship my own bike their and back rather than buying something over there for 4 or 5 thousand. Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated. Regards David

    1. Hi David,
      It would be quite expensive shipping both ways and clearing customs and quarantine. Plus you would be without your bike for a long time.
      It would only be worth it if you were there for a fair while.
      I’d buy something and sell at the end, if you have time, or just rent.

  9. Hello Motor Bike Writer,

    I’m writing from the USA. I’m interested in a motorcycle that is not sold here; Husqvarna Nuda 900R. I’ve found them for sale in Australia and am curious on the import procedures. I’m very interested if you have any details on this.

    Thank you for your time,


  10. Hi . Do you sell m / bikes that you have imported into Australia from the USA , if so I am looking for the following bikes .
    Kawasaki H1 500 ,1966 /68 Y D Yamaha , if you could send me a list of bikes you have for sale with asking price
    I would be very grateful .
    Look forward to hearing from you . Sean .

  11. Hi , I have a 1986 fxrc (HD) that I want to import from the USA . I purchased it from a bike store $4500 U.S. so it has all relevant paperwork.
    How much is the cost of import and the comply plate for ready to redg WA PLATES.?

  12. Hi
    Can you import and comply a bike I want to buy in South Africa? It will be an old (possibly clapped out) 6 cylinder Honda or Kawasaki.

  13. Good advice regarding the type of bike that’s best to import: the more mods or specialty items, the more difficult it’s going to be. I love that you gave costs for compliance and shipping both; a lot of times people don’t realize the total cost because the shippers don’t always make it clear. $3500 may sounds steep to a lot of people, but it’s consistent with what my husband paid when he shipped his bike with A-1 Auto Transport last year. Great article & good info.

  14. How much would it cost me to import and comply a DUCATI 1098 or 1198 from the USA please and how much are the taxes if the purchase price is about $ 3500 us. Thank you.

  15. bought a iron horse texas chopper, in the US, so,,, can I take it home late next year, as a personal import, go on a road trip and sell it before I head back here, without extra fees/taxes after the sale?

  16. Hi
    Could you please let me know how much is that to import my royal enfiled 2014 model from india to Australia which i drove there while i went for a holiday.


  17. I imported my 1st Harley back in 1981 when the Aussie dollar bought US$1.26 and long before all these bureaucratic hoops of fire existed , oh for the good old days …….

  18. Craig, that is correct and it also applies for other vehicles. However, not many people are in a position to import this way and even if you found someone overseas who was willing to help, your money would be tied up for 12 months and you wouldn’t have the bike to ride.

  19. Just to add to this, there are a number of different import options for motorcycles. If you have been overseas for an extended period and have owned a bike for over 12 months it can be imported as personal import. The costs are substantially less, in my the ‘compliance’ part was $20 and then a normal roadworthy.

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