Australian Government - Australian Customs and Border Protection Service

To protect Australia's borders and foster lawful trade and travel.

Low Value Parcel Processing Taskforce

On 18 December 2010 information around the current settings for the low value import threshold to the Productivity Commission for the inquiry.  Information about the inquiry can be found on the Productivity Commission website.

On 4 November 2011, the Productivity Commission released its Final Report on the Economic Structure and Performance of the Australian Retail Industry. The Commission’s Recommendation 7.1 stated that, in principle, the low value threshold exemption for GST and duty on imported goods should be lowered to promote tax neutrality with domestic sales. However, the Government should not proceed to lower the threshold until it is cost effective to do so.

Recommendation 7.2 of the report stated: ‘The Government should establish a taskforce charged with investigating new approaches to the processing of low value imported parcels, particularly those in the international mail stream, and recommending anew process which would deliver significant improvement and efficiencies in handling.’

In response to this recommendation, on 9 December 2011 the Assistant Treasurer, the Hon Bill Shorten with the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, the Minister for Home Affairs and Justice and the Minister for Small Business jointly announced the establishment of a taskforce to review processing arrangements for low value parcels.

The Taskforce comprises an independent expert panel made up of a Chair and two members with significant experience in logistics, supply chain management and other related fields. The members of the Taskforce are Dr Bruce Cohen (Chair), Professor Caroline Chan and Mr Jim Marshall.

The Terms of Reference stated that ‘The Taskforce should release an interim report in three months from its establishment and provide a final report to Government no later than July 2012’.

The Interim Report was released on Friday 30 March.

Low Value Parcel Processing report

Low Value Parcel Processing Taskforce
Report to Government
March 2012 (PDF 1.42MB) (Word 845KB)

The Taskforce’s final report was handed to Government on 31 July 2012. The Government will consider the report before making it public in due course. For media enquiries please contact the Office of the Assistant Treasurer on 02 6277 7360.

Data - Low Value Import Threshold

Customs and Border Protection has compiled data on the use of the low value threshold for air cargo. This data covers the periods 2009-10 and 2010-11 for air cargo reported to Customs and Border Protection as Self-Assessed Clearances (SAC)s (which are used to declare and report goods valued less at or less than $1,000).

The data can be accessed here.

Notes on the data

• The data provided by Customs and Border Protection does not reflect the number of on-line sales. While all air cargo imported into Australia is required to be reported to Customs and Border Protection, there is no requirement to declare if the goods were bought on-line.

• Air cargo is one of three avenues by which low value goods can be imported into Australia – they can also come in through sea cargo and international mail.

• The majority of low value goods are imported through international mail or air cargo, with very few through sea cargo (i.e. <1%).

• In 2009-10, the total volume of imports of all air cargo reported was 11.2 million consignments. In 2010-11 the total volume of imports or all air cargo reporting was 13.9 million consignments.

• In 2009-10, there were over 36 million items of international mail imported – the vast majority of these were valued under the threshold.

Low Value Import Threshold Campaign

As part of the announcement of 18 December 2010, the Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon Brendan O’Connor MP, announced a Customs and Border Protection compliance campaign to ensure Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Customs duty concessions for imports with a value of $1000 or less were not being abused or exploited.

The enhanced activity for the campaign commenced at the beginning of 2011 and ran for three months.

The final campaign report is now available.

Industry Forums

Customs and Border Protection has convened two forums of interested parties to discuss importing practices around the current low value import threshold as part of the campaign.

The forums, held in February and March 2011, focused on:

  • providing stakeholders with an insight into our current treatment of low value importations, including Customs and Border Protection’s compliance approach;

  • providing an overview of the campaign activity; and

  • giving industry an opportunity to discuss any areas of non-compliance.

A summary of the March 2011 Industry Forum is available for download here


Customs and Border Protection has also released some information under Freedom of Information which is relevant to the topic of low value threshold. It can be found in the FOI Disclosure Log.

Importing Goods
Customs and Border Protection has a range of information available regarding importing goods into Australia. This includes information on:

Reporting Non-Compliance

Customs and Border Protection strongly encourages reporting of any instances of non-compliance and seeks assistance from industry and members of the public in identifying and responding to this.

Any suspicious border activities should be reported to the Customs and Border Protection Hotline (24 hours a day) on 1800 06 1800, or by using the contact forms.

The information you provide could lead to a successful Customs and Border Protection operation.