Did you know that if you buy a car overseas and import it to Australia, then it’s found to contain asbestos, you could be fined up to $210,000 – or three times the value of the car itself?
The Australian Border Force is cracking down on asbestos in imported products, including all manner of vehicles. As of March 2017, the ABF included an additional question when lodging import declarations for motor vehicles regarding the presence of asbestos. Assurances need to be made, and even evidence provided from the manufacturer if your vehicle is suspected of containing asbestos.
Why would my imported vehicle contain asbestos?
Even though Asbestos has been banned in Australia since 2003, many other countries still use it in production or have not made moves to eradicate it from vintage vehicles. Most worldwide car manufacturers stopped using asbestos in materials in the late 1990s, but if you’re importing a vintage vehicle that predates this, there’s always a chance that asbestos could be present.
Border security recently found asbestos in an imported Ford Falcon, a Chevrolet Corvette and a Mazda RX-2. The material can often be difficult to find, hidden in seemingly innocuous parts.
How to check if your imported vehicle contains asbestos
Always ask your supplier to provide evidence that the vehicle you wish to import does not contain asbestos. Many countries advertise a product as “asbestos free” even when it contains small traces of the substance, as their laws are not as strict as those in Australia regarding the threshold for asbestos content (Australia has a zero policy). If your vehicle is considered at risk of containing asbestos, it should be tested and inspected for the substance prior to being shipped to Australia.
Common vehicle parts that contain asbestos include:
- Brake pads
- Clutch linings
Fines and penalties
You might think that having your vehicle tested before it’s shipped to Australia is a costly exercise, and you haven’t even gotten it into the country yet! But when you consider the fines you can receive for importing a vehicle containing asbestos, and the cost of detaining the vehicle and having it tested here, the result is significantly less. In fact, if the car is proven to contain asbestos, it can even be seized and disposed of by the Crown, and cannot be exported out of the country. A high price to pay for a coveted vintage vehicle.
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