Japan to Australia - Die fantastische Reise des Froschs

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Japan to Australia

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Japan to Australia
June 2014

Concerning the shipment of a car from Japan to Australia and the temporary import to Australia we try to give some advises.

We wanted to temporary import a Toyota Landcriuser HZJ78, registered in Switzerland, from Japan to Australia (Queensland).

We describe here how we did it.

In short:

1. Find a vessel which serves your desired destination
2. Contact the vessels shipping line to find a local agent (in Japan)
3. The agent should be able so bring your car on bord within a week (minimum time) if there is space available. He needs copies of all your documents
4. Clean the car as good as ever possible (Australias Quarantine is very strict)
5. Around three to four days before departure you have to bring the car to the shipping yard (where all other cars (mostly for export to Africa, Australia or Carribean) are parked)
6. The day after you have to go to customs to fix the Carnet de Passage paperwork and let the officers have a look at your car and VIN number
7. AFTER the vessel left you get the BOL (Bill of Lading) and your stamped Carnet

8. In Australia a local agent helps a lot, try to find one via the shipping line or the agent in Japan
9. Before getting your car out of customs you must have an Australian CTP insurance (compulsory third party)
10. When the car is through quarantine and customs (minimum 4 working days after arrival) you have to drive straight to the Department of Transport and Main Roads
11. We had to fill out a permit for left hand driven cars and one for overseas vehicles
12. The car goes through a basic inspection at this Department

In detail:

1. We had the impresssion that finding a RoRo vessel which serves Japan to Australia was not so easy. We found K-Line and Armacup.

2a. We contacted K-Line and Armacup months before our desired departure, but they told us to wait until they got the vessels schedule (around 4 weeks before departure). We desided to ship with K-Line from Yokohama to Townsville. Around three weeks before departure everything was arranged, our agent reserved a space on the vessel and all looked perfect. Around 10 days before departure he suddenly mailed that K-Line could not take our car for dubious reasons. We contacted K-Line in Australia and they said it should not be a problem as long as all our personal belonings are taken out of the car. We tried to contact our agent but he didn't answer phone calls or mails. We got pis... off and really stuck this short before departure.  So please AVOID whenever possible K-Line and the following agent:

Mr. Toshiyuki Nakajima
1379-2-C-703, Nakajima, Chigasaki, Kanagawa, Japan.
Tel: +81-467-58-7432
Fax: +81-467-88-3810
Email: usedminibus(at)s9.dion.ne.jp
Email: nakajima(at)aidjapan-usedcar.com

If you decide to take K-Line against our advice a helpful hand would be the K-Line agent in Australia:

Mr Brent Piening

2b. We were extremely lucky to find in quite a hurry a much better and much more reliable agent in Tokyo. Our original plan to take K-Line to Townsville wasn't possible anymore but we found the company (Toyofuji) which had a vessel within the next 7 days to Brisbane. Our warmly recomended agent was:

Autohub Co. LTD
2F, No.3 Nagaoka Building
2-13-4 Hatchobori Chud-ku
Tokyo, 104-0032, Japan
Email: mailto:mizuno(at)autohub.co.jp

Within two hours after our first call we met and then he was speeding like hell to get everything organized.
The best was, that Toyofuji allowed us to ship the car with ALL our personal belongings.

3. We sent all our documents (Carnet, car documents) via E-mail. As well we had to write a list of all our belongings (for Japanese customs), every screw, every shirt, just everthing.

4. We cleaned our dirty Mongolia and Russia travelled car. It took us 70, yes seventy, working hours. The inside was spotless, the outside as well. Be careful to clean as good as possible all window seals, all frame parts (inner sides and outer side), the grill, the wheel cases, the wheels.

5. Mr. Mizuno took us and the car to the shipping yard. Within 30 Minutes he organised some papers, we drove on to a point where we had to leave the car and hand over the keys. There the car was measured for it's size. We handed over our Carnet de Passage to Mr. Mizuno. He drove us back to our Tokio Hotel.

6. A day later Mr. Mizuno drove us to the customs office at the harbour where our car was parked meanwhile. We were afraid that customs wanted to check all our belongings. But the inspection was very basic, they just wanted to see the VIN Number. They even didn't check if the fuel tank and gas bottle were empty as requested.

7. Three days later the vessel left and one to two days later Mr. Mizuno handed us back the Carnet and a copy of the BOL (bill of lading). See copy below.

Meanwhile we organised oneway airline tickets with Jetstar from Tokio to Gold Coast (Brisbane) for about AUD 400.- per person. As well we rented a "hippie camper" at www.apollo.com.au for AUD 28.- plus insurance AUD 20.- per day. We got as well an outward ticket from Adelaide to Switzerland, because we heard that travelers with an oneway ticket could be rejected from boarding the plane in Japan or would have problems at Australian customs.

Fact was: Jetstar did not ask for any outward tickets. Australian customs did not ask for any tickets or proof of founds.

8. Mr. Mizuno got us the contact of (his / Toyofujis) partner in Australia

Mr. Graeme Jenkins
Customer Service
Autohub Vehicle Logistics Australia
A : Ground Floor, 355 – 359 The Kingsway Caringbah NSW 2229.
M : P O Box 809 Caringbah, NSW 2229
T : 612 9700 0100
F : 612 9700 0530

E : graeme.jenkins(at)autohub.co

9. We got the CTP (compulsory third party) Insurance. You can easily get it at any RACQ office, prices are everywhere exactly the same (you can get it at three other companies as well e.g. Allianz). BUT you must have an address in QLD (or the state where you "import" the car). Be sure that you have Street with house number, postal code and city ready. Not having an adress will cause some troubles, computers want to have one. It might work just to "invent" an address. But be sure this one exist, at RACQ they check if this address exists somewhere. You don't need a proper adress, because you get the insurance papers straight away and only advertisment stuff will be send to "your" address.
CTP costs AUD 173.-/6 months.

We also bought a third party liability insurance. This covers damages to other cars and property up to AUD 2'000'000. (CTP just covers damages to other persons) and damages to our own vehicle in case someone with no insurance bumps in our car, to a maximum of AUD 3000.-. Costs are around AUD 166.-/6 months.
With both RACQ insurances it did not matter that we had a left hand driven car.

10. All customs paperwork and quarantiine check was done by the following company:

Phone: 07 3630 1244
Contact person: Lee Holmes
GPS: -27.43500  153.09950

Customs at the harbour were very slow, we had to wait for a week until our car was transported to the Cargoclear company.
There are two ways for the customs check:
a) if the car is "empty", customs at the harbour have a quick look through the windows and release it for quarantine check at Cargoclear.
b) if the car is packed with stuff (as ours) they want to have a proper look into the car and this took place at Cargoclear because they have a hall where it is save and dry to unpack a car.

How did the custom and quarantaine check work in our case?
You are not allowed to be present at both checks. So customs must have access to your car, locked cases and so on. Lee Holmes takes care of that. If customs want, they can unload your vehicle. We were lucky, they hardly had a look at our car, they didn't open anything and didn't need any keys to open anything.
Our car was really very clean. So the quarantine wasn't a problem. If the car is not clean they will steam clean it at around AUD 100.-/hr. What we experienced: If you clean all
window seals, all frame parts (inner sides and outer side), the grill, the wheel cases and the wheels it should be theoretically okay. Just make the car look nice. If you have hidden floors in the inside of your car clean them as well, we were asked if we had any. We spent dozens of hours to clean the inside, but they were NOT interested in that. We threw away all our food stuff, emptied spice containers, cleaned our hiking boots and so on. But belive it or not, this was of no interest for inspection. It is as if you could fill the inside of your car with food, seeds and dirt as long it is not visible. It might be that they had sniffer dogs to find food and plant particles, as they did at the airport.Maybe it also depends on the mood of the officer. Just don't be too afraid of the quarantine.

Next step:
Without registration you have to drive on the shortest way to the Department of Transport and Main Roads. You are not allowed to drive anywhere else or wait some days:

Department of Transport and Main Roads (in Carseldine north of Brisbane City)
GPS: -27.34887 153.02435

11 + 12 There you have to register the car and have it inspected. If you have everything ready (CTP, car papers) this can be done in two hours. At RACQ they told us that the insurance must start exactly on the day of registration, not before and not after. This is wrong, it can start earlier. Information from the internet said, that you have to bring the car to a garage to get a pink slip. This was wrong as well (in QLD). At RACQ they told us that we will get Australian number plates. Wrong as well.

At the Department you have to fill out two forms: "Registration for overseas car" and "left hand driven car". Latter might even not be necessairy. As well you have to fill in an additional form with further information of your car and of the owner (will be handed to you). Here as well you must have an address in QLD.The inspection of the car is ridiculousy basic: Whipers work? Headlights and blinkers work? Seatbelts exist? VIN and engine number check. That's it.  
As our Landcruiser didn't have an engine number this caused some fuming heads but was finally accepted.
Swiss car registrations do not expire. Hard to understand for Australians. Weeks ago we were told that we have to proof this "non-expiry". We contacted Swiss Rego-offices, even the Swiss embassy to get this proof. But none was able to give it. What happened at the Department of Transport and Main Roads? They didn't bother and just wrote "Expiry year 2999" Great isn't it?

Just in case: You can find an excellent shower for free from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Department, might be good to know.

Welcome to Australia!

P.s. Unfortunately during shipment some guys stole a couple of things of our car. Cases where opened and one drawer was cracked. They stole things which were completely useless to them, such as a smelly rubbish bin, a cleaning brush, some magnets we used for holding things at its place. But they also dismanteled our compass, stole cloths, blankets, shoes, tools, just everything they could "easily" get to. Luckily we were clever enough to take all our valuables out of the car and bring them to Australia on our Jetstar flight. Just be warned, lock away everythng, they take whatever they can get!

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