Mozo guides

How to buy a car overseas

Importing that sweet Corvette? Or perhaps you've found a cheaper electric vehicle overseas.

Don’t let your hard-earned money be eaten up by poor exchange rates and crazy fees. This guide will help you navigate the international money transfer process smoothly and get you behind that wheel without extra costs.

 Let's dig in!

Options for sending money overseas to buy a car

We’ll just cut to the chase. For transferring large sums of money, your only real option is to use a foreign exchange specialist like OFX, CurrencyFair or Wise or one of the many others. 

While there are other options like the major banks, PayPal and Western Union, you simply won’t find the same deal as you will with a specialist provider. But since we want your decision to be an informed one, we’ll highlight the pros and cons of each option here.

Option
Pros
Cons
Foreign Exchange Specialists
- Usually more affordable than the big four banks when making an IMT to buy a car overseas.
- Offer attractive exchange rates and good value for money.
- Fees are more modest compared to banks. 
- Super flexible, usually able to transfer funds 24/7.

- As currencies change daily, trading Aussie dollars may vary from one day to the next.
- Some FX specialists have minimum and maximum transfer limits.
- Technical problems could slow down transfer speed.

Banks
- If you need to send money overseas in a hurry, a bank can be a good choice.
- Familiar names that you already use and trust.
- For a one-off international money transfer, a bank can be reliable and convenient.

- The bank’s exchange rate is often more expensive than a foreign exchange provider.
- Plenty of fees, including a high conversion fee and a sending and receiving fee.
- Some banks may have limited knowledge and not have a dedicated IMT specialist.

PayPal/Western Union
- Quick and convenient for smaller transfers.
- Familiar platforms that many people use regularly.
- Offers buyer and seller protection for certain transactions.

- High fees and less competitive exchange rates for larger transactions.
- Limited options for transferring large sums of money efficiently.

Features to consider when comparing foreign exchange providers

In the last few years there’s been a massive increase in the number of small FX providers joining the industry. 

So with the international money transfer market a lot more competitive it’s important you shop around and compare providers before so you receive the best value for your Aussie dollars. 

When doing your research on which specialist to go with to purchase your car make sure you consider the following features:

  • Exchange rate. First and foremost you need to check out the exchange rate the provider is offering. A few cents difference in the exchange rate could save you thousands of dollars. Remember, the higher the exchange rate, the more money you will get! Make sure you compare quotes with Mozo!
  • Limits. Some international money transfer providers have a maximum and minimum transfer amount. The minimum limit could be as much as $1000, but this shouldn’t be a problem when buying a car in another country unless you’ve struck an impossible deal.
  • Transfer speed. It’s good to know that you can transfer money immediately. But it doesn't mean that your recipient can use the funds straight away. Sometimes it takes 3-5 business days for the funds to become available.
  • Fees. Each financial institution, bank or IMT agent will have a different fee structure and conversion rate for the currency you want to transfer your Australian dollars over. It’s not a standardised industry so there’s not one set fee or rate charged for an IMT. Look around and secure a rate and fee that best works for you.
  • Transfer options. You can make your international money transfer online, on the phone or in person. Different providers may offer different financial benefits for each option.

5 Factors to consider before buying a car from overseas

Considering importing a car from abroad? Before you send your hard-earned cash overseas, here are a few things you should consider:

  1. You will have to pay for shipping and custom costs at both ends. This could reach upwards of $10,000 or more, on top of the purchase price of the car.
  2. The car has to meet import approval conditions. This means you might have to make changes to it, such as switching to right-hand drive.
  3. Your imported car may not come under warranty, so any repairs you’ll have to fork out yourself.
  4. Keep in mind you may have to pay GST as well as the Luxury Car Tax.
  5. Make sure you purchase the car from a reputable and reliable source, as there are plenty of dodgy sales people, and even outright scams, overseas.

How to send money overseas when buying a car

So you’ve struck a deal with the seller and all you need to do is pay them. The process may vary slightly depending on your provider, but essentially, it's about setting up your account, verifying your ID, adding payment details, inputting the recipient's bank info, submitting the transfer and paying the AUD. 

It's generally intuitive once you log in, but to ensure a smooth process, have key information readily available:

  1. Personal details including name, address, date of birth, and phone number
  2. Identification documents such as driver's licence, Medicare card, or passport number
  3. Details of the account from which the transfer money will be deducted
  4. Full name and address of the recipient's bank
  5. Recipient's name, address, and account number
  6. SWIFT/BIC Code - an 8 or 11 digit code identifying banks worldwide
  7. The amount and currency you wish to send

Is it cheaper to buy a car overseas?

In most cases, you wouldn’t be buying a car from abroad to save money, since exchange rates, taxes, import fees and modification costs to make the car compliant would likely offset any savings. 

It’s more about acquiring a specific vehicle that may not be readily available here in OZ.

Whether it's a rare model or a unique configuration, the appeal lies in securing a car that meets your exact preferences and requirements.

Bottom line

And there you have it! Setting up your transfer doesn't have to be a complicated process. So buckle up and enjoy the ride as you embark on your car-buying adventure!

Brad Buzzard
Brad Buzzard
RG146
Senior Money Writer

Brad brings over 25 years of experience in writing and consumer research to Mozo, using his RG146 certification for Generic Knowledge and Superannuation Brad has a knack for translating complex policies, to deliver practical guidance on financial matters. Brad has been featured in The Australian, B&T, Mumbrella, and Asia Insurance Review, and his insights have influenced the strategies of some of the world's biggest brands including McDonalds and Proctor & Gamble.