Grey imports are models that make their way to Australia outside of the normal full volume import process. 

Currently, the majority are used vehicles from Japan, though the term can also apply to new and used vehicles from other countries. 
  • It applies to both privately imported models and commercial imports. 
  • Under current import arrangements all commercial grey imports must be significantly different to models sold new in Australia. 
  • Commercially imported vehicles must meet Australia’s standards for safety and emissions, requiring modification and certification before they can be registered. 
The supply of replacement parts for grey imports is often seen as a problem:
  • While some specialist grey importers and local new car dealers can source replacement parts, delays in obtaining them are likely.
  • Access to service information could be another problem, particularly for vehicles that were originally destined for a non-English speaking market.

Other points to consider

  • Many repairers are reluctant to take on an import due to difficulties with service information and parts supply.
  • Some insurance companies will not cover vehicles that were not sold new in Australia. 
  • Local full volume vehicle distributors generally do not support them.  
  • There is no local support for recalls or service campaigns so the owner becomes responsible for correcting any issues.
Changes to Australian vehicle standards are due to come into force in 2018.
  • This will allow the importation of a greater range of both new and used models.  
  • They will need to be right hand drive and come from a market that has similar vehicle standards to ours. 
  • However, it isn’t clear at this point if we will see an increase in grey imports. 

Before you decide to buy a grey import it would be wise to look into parts supply, access to service information, and insurance cover. Having a used vehicle independently inspected to determine its condition is important, as there is usually no way of checking its service history.