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  1. Default Bringing my car from Australia

    Every March there is a gathering of MINIs in Las Vegas. The event is called AMVIV (A MINI Vacation in Vegas). It is a gathering of 300+ MINIs from across North America.

    I, and a number of my Australian friends, have attended this event over the last 7 years. However this year, I would like to ship my MINI from Australia to LA or SF, drive to Vegas and continue along Route 66 and end up on the East Coast. My desire is to be the first MINI from outside the North American Continent to attend the event.

    Depending on time, I am thinking of heading up to Canada and crossing back to Vancouver before shipping the MINI back to Australia.

    I have already done

    . NYC-DC-Boston-NYC;
    . SF-San Diego;
    . SF-Yosemite-Lake Tahoe-Mendocino-SF; and
    . Seattle-Vancouver-Central British Columbia

    in a range of rental vehicles, but now I want to do it in my own car.

    I have heard it is possible to get temporary registration/approval to bring a right-hand drive vehicle into the U.S. for such a driving holiday, but I am having trouble finding information on how to do this. Any assistance in tracking down information would be much appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default A starting point

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The best info I can find is this pretty comprehensive page from US Customs.

    It seems to include most of the legal issues you'll face, and seems to confirm what I'd heard previously that you can drive the car in the US for up to one year on your Australia plates.

    I don't think the right hand drive is a legal issue, but rather the biggest potential problem is likely making sure that your car meets US Emissions requirements. I have no idea how Australia rules compare to the US in this regard, or what you have to do to make sure you are meeting American standards. I would likely try to contact American Customs directly with any questions.

    I also don't know if there are any different requirements for Canada, so you should check with their customs office too, if that looks like it will be part of your trip.

  3. Default

    Thanks Michael.

    I had been checking U.S. DMV sites for registration requirements and any special modifications to no avail. California DMV only wants contact from international customers by snail mail. That's along time to wait just to find a url to relevant web pages.

    I had thought Customs would only be interested in checking the car for illegal goods or quarantine.

    Again, thanks for your help.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    You shouldn't have a problem.

    Nonresidents may import a vehicle duty-free for personal use up to (1) one year if the vehicle is imported in conjunction with the owner’s arrival. Vehicles imported under this provision that do not conform to U.S. safety and emission standards must be exported within one year and may not be sold in the U.S. There is no exemption or extension of the export requirements.
    US emissions and safety requirements do not have to be met, and you won't have to deal with any state DMV. I'm thinking you may have to post a bond to ensure you will be taking it back home with you.

  5. #5


    Yeah, in the last year I chatted with a German couple in their own camper van (on PEI) and a guy with a ute from the Northern Territory (in the Everglades) who said the same. Just because you're arriving over water there is no difference to driving between countries in Europe. So long as the vehicle is taxed, insured and road legal in your home country you are legit. Or that is what they told me.

  6. Default

    Thanks everyone. Looks easier than I expected.

    Getting the MINI to the U.S. looks reasonably cheap, as there are quite a few companies importing classic cars from the U.S. into Australia. Some have quite a few empty spaces heading back. U.S. to Oz will probably be full price though.

    Anyway, once I get the complete story and accurate info, I will post again.


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