Australian Government - Australian Customs and Border Protection Service

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

General imports

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

There is no requirement for companies or individuals to hold an import licence. However, depending on the nature of the commodity, and regardless of value, owners may need to obtain permits to facilitate clearance of goods. Some, not all, of the goods requiring permits, and the relevant permit issuing agencies, are included in this section.

Some Permit Issuing Authorities also publish brochures/pamphlets about their areas of concern. However, other agency publications may not always reflect current Customs legislation and procedures and, accordingly, it would be advisable to contact a Customs Information Centre to check these issues.

Import Entry Costs

A listing of all current fees and charges for declarations and licenses collected by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service is summarised in Australian Customs and Border Protection Notice No. 2014/41.

Further information on the cost of processing entries is available from the Customs Information and Support Centre.

Valuation

While there are several methods of valuing goods for Customs purposes, the method most applied (transaction value) is based on the price actually paid (or payable) for the imported goods subject to certain adjustments.

A major condition for using the transaction value is that there is no relationship between the buyer and seller which may influence the price.

Valuation of imported goods can be complex and importers are urged to seek advice from a customs broker or to contact a Customs Information Centre.

Customs valuation of imported goods (40KB)

Valuation treatment of free of charge goods (33KB)

Valuation treatment of production assist costs (33KB)

Information on Valuation Advice

Advance rulings are formal advices on how Customs and Border Protection will apply certain laws to goods for importation. A Valuation Advice provides rulings on specific matters relating to the assessment of the Customs value of imported goods. Valuation Advice enquiries can be sent to valvic@customs.gov.au.

The following links to relevant documents and forms about Valuation Rulings and how to apply:

Transfer Pricing

During November 2006 Customs sought comments on a pricing discussion paper that set out policy, legislative and system issues. Submissions from clients and other government agencies have been considered in finalising the Business Practice Statement on Transfer Pricing.

Practice Statement PS B_IND08

Rules of Origin

Rules of origin are the rules applied to determine from which country a good originates for international trade purposes.

Rules of origin are necessary for preferential reasons i.e. determining eligibility for benefits such as reduced rates of duty.

For detailed information, including information booklets, refer to the separate section of this guide dedicated to Rules of Origin.

In addition, information is available from your nearest Customs Information Centre.

Information on Origin Advice

An Origin Advice provides rulings on whether particular imported goods qualify as originating from a particular country. Origin Advice enquiries can be sent to Origin@customs.gov.au.

The following links to relevant forms and documents about Origin Rulings and how to apply:

If you are seeking general valuation or rules of origin information, please contact the Customs Information and Support Centre (CI&SC) by phone on 1300 363 263 or by email to information@customs.gov.au.

The Australian Business Number

If importer's have an Australian Business Number(ABN) they will need to supply it to Customs when formally entering goods. Importers need to be registered for GST purposes and have an ABN in order to claim input tax credits or access the GST deferral scheme.

For advice on any GST matters, including registration, deferral and claiming of input credits, contact your local taxation office

Concessions

Under certain circumstances, importers may obtain relief from the Customs duty payable on imported goods. Enquiries regarding the Tariff Concession System and the concession applicable to the importation of certain handicrafts should be directed to the nearest Customs office.

Tariff Concession System Factsheet (38KB)

Importing Handicrafts into Australia Factsheet (43KB)

Commerce Trade Descriptions

Importers are required to ensure that goods entering the commerce of Australia are correctly labelled. The Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act 1905 and the Commerce (Imports) Regulations 1940 set out the labelling requirements for goods imported into Australia. Customs administers this legislation.

It is an offence to import goods that do not bear a required trade description, or bear a false trade description.

Imported goods that require a trade description must be marked with the name of the country in which the goods were made or produced, and where specified, a true description of the goods.

When a trade description is required, it must be:

  • in the English language; and
  • in prominent and legible characters and;
  • on a principal label or brand affixed in a prominent position and in as permanent a manner as practicable and;
  • if labelling on the goods includes a weight or quantity, it must also say if that weight or quantity is net or gross.

Any other information included must not contradict or obscure the required trade description. This includes illustrations, wording or size of lettering.

A false trade description can be any description of goods that is incorrect or misleading. This may include direct or indirect details of size, weight, quality, quantity, origin, manufacturer, ingredients or the application of a patent, privilege or copyright, and includes all possible alterations of a trade description, whether by way of addition, effacement, or otherwise.

A trade description may also be false if information is omitted from the description and this misleads the consumer as to the true description of the goods.

The Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act provides that goods imported in contravention of the Commerce (Imports) Regulations may be seized by Customs.

See Commerce Markings for further information

If you would like further information about Customs requirements on labelling, please email iprights@customs.gov.au or phone Customs Information on 1300 363 263.

Intellectual Property Rights

Import provisions under the Trade Marks Act 1995, Copyright Act 1968 and Olympic Insignia Protection Act 1987 allow Customs, under certain circumstances, to seize goods that infringe trade marks, copyright and protected Olympic insignia.

If you are the owner of a trade mark, a copyright work or licensed user of Olympic insignia, protecting your Intellectual Property (IP) through the border measures available will allow Customs to seize goods that infringe your IP rights if they are detected at the time of importation. To protect IP rights from counterfeit, pirated or unauthorised importation, the owner, or in some cases an authorised user, must have a Notice of Objection in place with Customs.

A Notice of Objection is a legal document that allows Customs to seize imported goods that infringe trade marks, copyright or Olympic insignia. A Notice of Objection under the Trade Marks Act or Copyright Act is valid for two years, and four years under the Olympic Insignia Protection Act. These Notices can be re-lodged to ensure ongoing protection. If the Notice is no longer required, the owner may withdraw it at any time. Separate Notices are required for trade marks, copyright and Olympic insignia.

A security in the form of a guarantee from an approved financial institution (documentary security) or a cheque (cash security) must also accompany the Notice. The security is required to reimburse the Commonwealth for costs associated with the seizure and disposal of infringing goods. Any unused portion of the security is returned when the Notice is no longer in place.

It is important to note that a Notice of Objection only protects goods, not services, which are imported into Australia.

Customs is restricted to seizing infringing goods that are subject to the control of Customs and are covered by a Notice of Objection. A Notice of Objection cannot act retrospectively for goods that have already been imported.

Where a Notice of Objection is in place and Customs seizes importations that infringe IP, the seized goods are held for 10 working days. In this period:

  • The objector will commence legal action, or
  • The objector will consent to the release of the goods, or
  • The importer will voluntarily forfeit the goods, provided civil action has not commenced.

If the right's owner does not commence legal proceedings within 10 working days of receiving the notification of seizure, or within 20 working days if Customs has agreed to extend the period, Customs must release the goods unless the importer has voluntarily forfeited them. This is subject to all other legislative requirements being met.

At the conclusion of any legal action, the court will make an order about the goods, for example forfeiture of infringing goods to the Commonwealth. Customs disposes of forfeited goods as directed by the Customs CEO, usually by destruction or donation to a charity, as appropriate.

Not every consignment of goods that enters Australia presents a risk in terms of the border controls that Customs administers. Customs encourages trade mark, copyright and Olympic insignia rights owners and the public to provide information that will assist Customs to identify and intercept suspected infringing goods.

Customs is not responsible for the formulation of government policy relating to IP rights. Policy in relation to the Copyright Act 1968 rests with the Attorney-General's Department. IP Australia, a specialised agency within the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, is responsible for the Trade Marks Act 1995 and the Olympic Insignia Protection Act 1987.

See Intellectual Property for more information. 

A list of goods covered under current Notices of Objection is also available from the Customs website.

If you would like further information about protecting Intellectual Property rights or to obtain copies of the relevant forms, please email iprights@customs.gov.au or phone Customs Information on 1300 363 263.

Assistance

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Importers wishing to clear their own goods should contact the Customs Information and Support Centre for advice on Customs requirements and operating hours. However, it is important to stress that the Customs Service does not complete customs import entries on behalf of importers.

Customs import entry procedures are based on self assessment by importers who should be aware of all their obligations: penalties may be imposed for the submission of incorrect or misleading information or for the omission of information to mislead. Details of the information requirements of the "Entry For Home Consumption" and guidance for its completion are contained in the Documentary Import Declaration Comprehensive Guide. Therefore, while it is not a requirement, it is recommended that importers use the services of a customs broker to complete customs import entries and related clearance formalities.

Brokers specialise in the clearance of imported goods and are licensed by Customs. They may be contacted by reference to the yellow pages of local telephone directories under "Customs Brokers", or by contacting the local branch of the Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia.