Importing a Van from the USA

Submitted: Sunday, Oct 07, 2012 at 20:26
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After reading some of the Forums on this topic I am unsure if I am wasting my time asking however here goes. To anyone who has done or has been involved in importing a van from the USA is there any tips you can offer. I know a few people and have got tips from them and it's already on the boat so I am committed. I also have a large machinery workshop so I am happy I have the access to the right skills. I am really chasing info on what can catch me out getting it accross the line in QLD. I have Gas sorted (a guy who does allot of them), 240 is close just need to find a Transformer that is fit for use (any tips?). Width will always be an issue like all of them, experience on this topic would be great i.e. how hard core are they cause I know most of the imported ones on the road are over width.

anyway would be great to chat to anyone who has just done it as I know it's getting harder and harder....
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Sunday, Oct 07, 2012 at 22:43

Sunday, Oct 07, 2012 at 22:43
If it is overwidth (even just by the anex) it will not be registerable.
Transformers are illegal for this application. All US appliances will need to be replaced with ones with Australian approval.
All US 110V wiring will need to be replaced with approved Australian wiring.

Good luck, you will need it.

Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 Motorhome
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Follow Up By: Ray s1 - Monday, Oct 08, 2012 at 06:24

Monday, Oct 08, 2012 at 06:24
Tks peter, transformers is the big one I am getting mixed messages on this hopefully I can hear from someone who has recent experience in Qld. As for the width the van itself is ok sound like I might just have to strip some of the extras.
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Reply By: Lyn W3 - Monday, Oct 08, 2012 at 00:14

Monday, Oct 08, 2012 at 00:14
I presume you have your VIA in order, at the customs clearance it will need an AQIS Inspection and even if a bit of dirt is found on it or even a squashed bug it will need to be cleaned at an AQIS approved facility. If deemed to bad it will be put through the crusher and incinerated ............at your cost.

You will also have to pay duty on it plus GST on the VALUE of the van plus the freight.

then you have to deal with the following.............

Importers should be aware that trailers manufactured for other markets may need significant modifications to comply. These can be costly and may include:

Replacing or testing of braking systems.
Replacing the trailer couplings such as ball couplings or fifth wheels.
Strengthening the trailer's structure in particular, where the coupling is mounted.
Replacing the electrical wiring or connectors.
Replacing LPG installations.
Relocating and/or replacing the license plate holder and the stop/tail/direction indicator lighting.
Adjusting the axle group positions to reduce rear overhang.
Replacing the suspension system.
Replacing the safety chains.
Removing awnings and other protruding components to reduce the overall width of the trailer to within 2.5 metres.
Relocating the caravan doors to the left hand side or to the rear of the vehicle.

Good luck.
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Follow Up By: Ray s1 - Monday, Oct 08, 2012 at 06:31

Monday, Oct 08, 2012 at 06:31
Cheers for the info, we actually do a lot of importing mainly second hand machinery so we know albout the inspections to get them in the country and yes it can be very painful. Like anything but you really need a clear idea about the actual certification process and the person or persons who do the sign off. All of the things listed don't scare me greatly but if I can locate a person who has done the process recently I may avoid some of them.
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Follow Up By: Lyn W3 - Monday, Oct 08, 2012 at 08:06

Monday, Oct 08, 2012 at 08:06
Hi Ray,

If you import 2nd hand machinery you will know the ins and outs of AQIS inspections, we have also imported a fair amount of machinery and if you have all your ducks in a row it's not much of a problem, We use Interport in Brisbane as they have their own inhouse AQIS Officer who will work with you on any problems, they also have an AQIS washdown area.
We bought in a boat on a trailer a couple of years ago. What we did was get an Unregistered Permit, changed the tail lights to Oz ones with the amber blinkers and away we went home.

At home we went through the VMS and added a second set of brakes, put on an Oz compliant hitch, new safety chains. Fronted up and got a Safety Inspection (QLD), weighbridge cert, went to Transport and it took about 20min to get it registered. Actually they issued a "home made" Vin plate.

Here is a post from the Caravan Forum you may not have seen...

If you wish to import a caravan and register it here in Australia, this is what you need when you present yourself at the Registration Office.

1. A Vehicle Registration Application (get from your rego office. Look it up on the net and read it thoroughly. Tells you what you need. If you are not sure, ring them and ask.)

2. A Vehicle Import Approval (issued under regulation 11. in the resistors name, and with the VIN number and tec detail on it)

3. A legitimate Bill Of Sale from the Seller, with the correct VIN Number on it (Proof of Origin)

4. A current weighbridge Certificate, again with the VIN number on it (proof of category, proof within specs on VIN plate) (check your Safety Cert re it)

5. A Safety or Inspection Certificate.

6. A Gas Certificate

No where does is mention electrical certificate. Maybe Cabcar can advise.

The Rego Centre will go over the above docs.
They will check their data base (most major overseas manufacturers have their VINs on our data base).
They may tell you they will not accept the existing VIN plate - got something to do with their data base and what is on it.
In this case, they will sell you a VIN plate, and they will advise you how to register it. i.e. in the current manufacturers name, or possibly Homemade (might not do that any more).
They may ask you have another plate attached re 'import' or something. They will tell you what to put on it.
For all engraving of plates, go to your local trophy shop, and they will do it correctly for $10-$20
Best way to attach, is drill holes in corners, then tek screw on body, beside old VIN plate.

But, you may go straight thru to the next step, with original VIN plate.
Then they will take you outside with the tape measure and measure the Van up, do the calculations, then it is inside to do final paperwork, pay your bucks, and get a registration plate.

So 1st, look up the Vehicle Registration Application. It tells you exactly what they need.


Read this, and fully understand it, especially 21.3, 21.4, 21.5, 22.1, 21.2, 21.3, 24,
http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/roads/ ... ne2009.pdf

Be careful with 21.3. This is what can stuff you up with American and some European equipment re width, BUT, having said that, I have a very good friend with a 26' Bayliner Cruiser on a trailer, which exceeds this 2.5m, and he has some form of right to tow after some hour in the morning and before some time in the evening.

You need an understanding of this too
http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/roads/ ... index.aspx

A really good source of info is a good shipping agent.
They know the rules.
That is their profession.
I have physically dealt with idiots who have cut corners to save money and it has cost them thousands.

The bottom line is this - don't listen to me - and please don't listen to the half-wits and their half-baked assumptions. Get info from a Shipping Agent, the above sites, your rego office etc. This is not rocket science. If you can spell your own name and count to 10, you are "in".




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Follow Up By: Ray s1 - Monday, Oct 08, 2012 at 22:00

Monday, Oct 08, 2012 at 22:00
tks heaps very helpful
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Reply By: Member - Rod N (QLD) - Monday, Oct 08, 2012 at 08:34

Monday, Oct 08, 2012 at 08:34
The comment about having an entrance door on the left or rear is not only a legal requirement but a courtesy one as well. People do not like it when your door opens into their annex, particularly in a tight van park. Also sometimes to fit into a site it means you need to park the van on the site slab which the parks do not like because they are not constructed to bear the weight of a van.
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Follow Up By: Ray s1 - Monday, Oct 08, 2012 at 22:07

Monday, Oct 08, 2012 at 22:07
good point, although mighten even get into some parks as it has a slideout as well
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Reply By: R.J.W. - Monday, Oct 08, 2012 at 11:39

Monday, Oct 08, 2012 at 11:39
I have done it and although mine wasn't a large van or 5th wheeler to get it passed all I needed was a gas inspection and a blue slip. (In NSW)
I don't know if my inspector was slack or didn't know some of the rules but I have a door on the wrong side a pressed coupling and an electrical cert is not needed for rego. I changed all the power points to double pole units and installed a transformer to run the battery charger etc ( I am an electrician)
The door on the wrong side is not really an issue to us as we don't use parks that often and on the occasions when we do it has not been a problem. It has helped when camping with friends as both awnings face each other and if not we park the car beside to act as a buffer.
AnswerID: 496289

Reply By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Monday, Oct 08, 2012 at 18:11

Monday, Oct 08, 2012 at 18:11
Hi Ray,

Brother imported a motorhome and used a transformer for the electrical conversion.

The transformer was the biggest he could get that would work off a 15 amp circuit.
It is a heavy beast. His motorhome has 2 airconditioners so he wanted the biggest he could get his hands on but still fit within the 15 amp max input. Can't remember the output.

He purchased it from Harbuch Electronics in Hornsby in NSW. They have a website and will deliver to Queensland apparently. They may be able to suggest a local supplier for you in QLD if you prefer.

What he did was to run 2 x 240x 15 amp circuits. The first is dedicated to the transformer and the other is for house 240 outlets.

The 110 volt electrical wiring, from what he has been able to find out from research, is heavier than is required in Australia as it has to carry greater amperages in the US.
Recent changes in the national code for 240 volt wiring saw most sizes of wire downgraded far most categories. .... RJW may be able to add more info here.

The brother also asked his electrician for a certificate for the 240 volt installation, as the motorhome is to be inspected buy an engineer before he can get it registered, and the electrician refused as he said it was not the usual thing they do.
Keep the receipt for proof if needed.

As far as we know there is no need to fit the door on the left side (NSW) as that is only a requirement on a passenger carrying vehicle and as we all know it is illegal to carry passengers in a moving caravan as it is a trailer, not a passenger vehicle.

The left door requirement is applied to motorhomes as the authorities do not want the only door or the emergency door opening into the line of traffic as it would when fitted to the right side in Australia.

You have made the right move bringing it in through Brisbane as the brother said he would never bring another one in through Sydney. They put a flat pack through the roof of his motorhome on the docks then tried to tell him it was like that when it came off the ship. After a lot of phone calls he got it fixed through insurance.

Cheers, Bruce.

At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

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Follow Up By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Monday, Oct 08, 2012 at 18:19

Monday, Oct 08, 2012 at 18:19
Just to clarify the 2 x 240 circuits.
There are 2 input sockets fitted to the outside of the motorhome.

If he needs the second power source (for aircinditioning or microwave) he said, he will pay for a second supply when in a van park.

A little complicate but the simplest he could think of at the time given his requirements.
At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

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Follow Up By: Ray s1 - Monday, Oct 08, 2012 at 22:05

Monday, Oct 08, 2012 at 22:05
Bruce thanks heaps this info will get me along way, will ring those guys re a transformer.
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Tuesday, Oct 09, 2012 at 20:01

Tuesday, Oct 09, 2012 at 20:01
Quote - "As far as we know there is no need to fit the door on the left side (NSW) as that is only a requirement on a passenger carrying vehicle and as we all know it is illegal to carry passengers in a moving caravan as it is a trailer, not a passenger vehicle.

"The left door requirement is applied to motorhomes as the authorities do not want the only door or the emergency door opening into the line of traffic as it would when fitted to the right side in Australia."

From which documents did you glean these gems? If you refer to VSB-01 you will see:
"22.1 Doors

"A caravan or trailer equipped with cooking facilities or living or sleeping accommodation must have only outward opening or sliding doors. At least one such door must be located on the left-hand side or at the rear."

There is no mention of passenger vehicles in that piece.

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Follow Up By: Ray s1 - Tuesday, Oct 09, 2012 at 20:07

Tuesday, Oct 09, 2012 at 20:07
Bruce, could you see approx what your brother paid for the transformers, there's ones on eBay 5000watt for $140. Some websites talk about isolated ones and they cost about $800 but I can't seem to get info to say I shouldn't use the ones for $140. Obviously I realize they could be crap but I am more interested in the difference in normal and isolated. If your brother has normal ones and has had success then that works for me..
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Follow Up By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Tuesday, Oct 09, 2012 at 21:05

Tuesday, Oct 09, 2012 at 21:05
Hi Ray,
I will be down at the motorhome tomorrow and talking to the brother as wel so I will get back to you. When I asked him about the cost of the tranny before he said he could not remember but I think it was close to a grand.

Whether he can still find that info I can't say for dure but I will endeavour to get the specs of it tomorrow.

.....................

Hi Peter, Thanks for the heads up re VSB 01.
Much obliged.
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restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Tuesday, Oct 09, 2012 at 21:39

Tuesday, Oct 09, 2012 at 21:39
Quote - " Some websites talk about isolated ones and they cost about $800 but I can't seem to get info to say I shouldn't use the ones for $140"

This is an excellent example of why standards are formulated to protect the public. For starters there are replies on other forums posted by licensed electricians who know the regulations stating that it is not permitted to be used in recreational vehicles and portable accommodation. In regards to to the cheap transformers they are ll of the autotransformer type. If you use one of those and someone uses a crossed power lead you end up with one of your 110 V conductors with a potential of 240 V to earth and the other 130 V.

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Follow Up By: Ray s1 - Tuesday, Oct 09, 2012 at 22:05

Tuesday, Oct 09, 2012 at 22:05
Peter thanks heaps for the info you have been a great help read all about autotransformers on the Internet, very interesting. All I gotta do now is find a 5000watt isolated one. As for the standards everyone one I have spoken to uses them in their RV , boats and vans, weird.
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Reply By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Wednesday, Oct 10, 2012 at 18:39

Wednesday, Oct 10, 2012 at 18:39
Hi Ray,
Brother said he paid over $800 for his transformer a couple of years ago. It is the isolated variety of course. I was not able to get to it to check its specs today.

As there are losses in any transformer then it isl unlikely you will get 3.6KW out of the transformer. In fact the efficiency is around 80 percent I believe so you will only be getting around 2.88KW at 110 volts output.

Be aware that the transformer has to have its own dedicated 15 amp 240 volt circuit to work best. This is why the brother insisted on 2 circuits. One for the transformer and one for the 240 volt house power outlets.

Hope I have expressed it clearly enough.
Good luck with it.
Cheers, Bruce.
At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

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Follow Up By: Ray s1 - Wednesday, Oct 10, 2012 at 19:52

Wednesday, Oct 10, 2012 at 19:52
Tks heaps bruce thought as much, I think I have all the info I need now. I can also confirm the Aussie standard doesn't allow for them these days but what will be will be. Just gotta make sure it's all safe.
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Follow Up By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Thursday, Oct 11, 2012 at 08:44

Thursday, Oct 11, 2012 at 08:44
That's the go Ray, SAFE.

Cut a corner to save a few measily dollars and you could cause injury or death to one of your family and then you could never live with yourself after that, could you.

Not sure if you know but all power points in a van have to be double pole as well. Meaning they switch the Neutral as well as the active. A little more expensive but there again, SAFE.

Cheers mate and hope it all works well for you.
Bruce.
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restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

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Reply By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Thursday, Oct 11, 2012 at 09:48

Thursday, Oct 11, 2012 at 09:48
I just did a quick search for the word "warranty". Seems that it has not been mentioned.

I doubt that you would have any warranty at all and maybe not any after sales service if you import it yourself. I may be different if there is a local importer who will accept the warranty but that would be rare.

Too risky for my liking.

Phil
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Friday, Oct 12, 2012 at 09:31

Friday, Oct 12, 2012 at 09:31
Statutory warranty is the responsibility of the manufacturer if manufactured in Oz or the importer. When you import a van you are the responsible person.

Also you have responsibilities under consumer protection legislation that extends for a 10 year period (the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.) When you pass on your imported van you are still the responsible party under that legislation. You as the importer are responsible for the work undertaken (or not undertaken) to prepare the vehicle for sale and registration in Australia.
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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Friday, Oct 12, 2012 at 11:21

Friday, Oct 12, 2012 at 11:21
Thats a real gotchya. Never thought of that one. Even after you sell it!!

Thanks

Peter
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Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Friday, Oct 12, 2012 at 10:09

Friday, Oct 12, 2012 at 10:09
Some light reading for you all

INTERGOVERNMENTAL AGREEMENT FORTHE AUSTRALIANCONSUMERLAW
Competition and Consumer Act 2010
Other Consumer Laws

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