Australia 2010

A circumnavigation (with risks).

Paperwork and Getting there.

N.B. Shipping your own campervan from Europe to Australia only makes sense if you have a specialized vehicle and you plan to spend a long time there. The process is costly and slow. For a short visit it makes more sense to hire a vehicle in Australia or to buy one and sell it when you leave.

This page lists some of paperwork, costs and logistics of shipping your own campervan to Australia. Note that it has been written before I have succeeded in getting myself and my campervan into Australia, so it may well be incomplete.


If you have a UK passport and you intend to spend more than three months driving round Australia (and you should) then you will almost certainly need a Tourist (Subclass 676) Visa. You can apply for one on-line. You may have to provide evidence that you have the funds to support yourself (Bank Statements etc.). If you are granted a visa all you get is an email containing something like this.

| Date: 22 June 2008                     |
| Transaction Reference number:          |
| EGDSE3CED3                             |
| Passport number: 028724237             |
| Name: SMITH, John Bill                 |
| Visa grant number: 34597807709444      |

You do not get a stamp in your passport and you do not receive anything by post.

Before applying for your visa it is important so understand exactly how the timing of an Australian Tourist (Subclass 676) visa works.

Although the visa application form asks when you intend to visit Australia, in practice your visa will be valid for one year from the date it is granted.

A Tourist (Subclass 676) visa allows you to enter Australia multiple times within its validity and then stay for up to 12 months.

Assume you wish to enter Australia in January, stay till September then visit New Zealand for a month and return to Australia in November. If you apply for your visa in August of the preceding year you are likely to get your visa in September. This means it will have expired by the time you want to re-visit Australia. If on the other hand you waited till November before applying for it, it would still be valid the following November for your return visit (which could be for up to one year!). Don't apply too early.

A Tourist (Subclass 676) visa cost $100 AUS (about £50 UKP or €62 Euro) in 2009.

Carnet de Passages en Douane.

Although it is technically possible to temporarily import a motor vehicle into Australia without a Carnet it is difficult.

In order to get a Carnet (for Australia) in the the UK you will need to deposit with the RAC 150% of the value of your vehicle (as declared on the Carnet).

If you don't feel like handing this sort of money over to the RAC you can get your bank to issue a guarantee instead, but they will charge for this service (currently at about 2.5% PA,) and you will almost certainly have to have the money on deposit with your bank first.

The third alternative is to take out an insurance policy. This will cost you at least 5% of the value of the the Carnet.

When you enter Australia your Carnet will be stamped "in". When you leave it will be stamped "out". When you return your Carnet to the RAC (provided it is correctly stamped "out" of every country it is stamped "in" to) they will release your guarantee.

In addition to the cost of any guarantee, the RAC will charge you about £200 UKP to issue a Carnet.


The cost of shipping a campervan (by RoRo) from the UK to Australia in late 2009 is about £95 UKP (€106 Euros) per cubic metre. This translates into between £3000 and £5000 UKP depending on the volume of the vehicle. There are ships leaving the UK every few weeks.

The most frequently recommended shipping company (and the one I'm using) is Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics. It does not seem to be necessary to use a shipping agent in the UK.

AQIS and Cleaning.

Because of Australia's unique flora and fauna the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) are extremely demanding!

"All vehicles must be thoroughly cleaned, both internally and externally before arrival in Australia. It is the importer's responsibility to ensure each consignment is clean and free of all quarantine risk material (QRM), including live insects, seeds, soil, mud, clay, animal faeces, animal material, plant material such as straw, twigs, leaves, roots, bark, food refuse and other debris prior to arrival in Australia. For the purposes of this import condition, 'clean' means 'clean as new'."

Cleaning your vehicle to this standard is very difficult and time consuming. I am told that 95% of used vehicles fail their first AQIS inspection. (This can result in you paying several thousand Australian dollars to have the vehicle cleaned.)