When buying over the internet

Fact Sheet
Pirated and Conterfeit Goods
Imported Goods
When Duty and Taxes are Payable
Multiple Packages
Calculating Duty and Taxes
Prohibited and Restricted Goods
Non-Compliant Gas and Electrical Goods

Imported Goods

You import goods into Australia if:

  • you purchase, order or otherwise arrange for goods to be brought (or sent) to Australia from overseas.

Your imported goods may arrive in Australia by:

  • air cargo
  • sea cargo
  • international mail (post).

When you buy goods over the internet, you should be aware that the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (Customs and Border Protection) may screen, x-ray and examine your imported goods.  This is done regardless of

  • whether the goods were brought for someone else
  • whether the goods are for your business or personal/private use
  • where the goods were bought
  • whether you intend to sell or distribute the goods.

Goods purchased on the internet are required to be cleared from Customs control when those goods arrive in Australia.  The value of the imported goods and the method of arrival determine how the goods are cleared for delivery to you and what duty, taxes and charges may apply.

You should be aware that, in some instances, if you buy goods on the internet from an Australian company, those goods may be supplied directly to you from overseas.  Duty and taxes may be payable by you when this occurs.

Multiple Packages

Consignor is the person or organisation overseas that sends goods (the sender).

Consignee is the person or organisation in Australia that receives the goods (the receiver).

If multiple packages arrive in Australia to the same consignee sent from a single consignor overseas, the value of all packages may be combined for duty and tax assessment purposes (refer to Example 1). 

If a parcel, i.e. one consignment addressed to you contains goods or other packages that were imported for other people (such as your friends or relatives) and the parcel has a declared or assessed value exceeding A$1000 you will need to lodge an import declaration and pay the duty, taxes and charges.  Customs law does not permit a parcel to be split or broken down into separate packages for assessment, even if those other packages were imported for other people.

Further information on the definition of “consignment” can be found by accessing Australian Customs Notice 2006/59.

Prohibited and Restricted Goods

Certain goods brought into Australia require an import permit or approval.  Customs and Border Protection may seize or detain such goods pending presentation of the permit.  Alternatively, the goods may be a prohibited import and not allowed into the country under any circumstance.

Some goods bought over the internet are prohibited or could contain substances that are restricted in Australia, even if they are legal overseas.  Items that may be detained or seized by Customs and Border Protection include, but are not limited to:

  • performance and image enhancing drugs containing restricted substances
  • laser pointers
  • medications, including herbal preparations
  • videos, DVDs, CDs and books/publications with objectionable or offensive content
  • protrusion dog collars
  • tablet presses
  • animal products made from protected species or with cat or dog fur.

Before you buy goods on the internet, Customs and Border Protection recommends you seek information to determine whether you require an import permit or approval.  For more information on goods that may be prohibited or restricted and permit requirements click on Prohibited and Restricted Imports.

Non-Compliant Gas and Electrical Goods

Most gas and electrical goods imported and sold in Australia must meet certain Australian safety and technical standards. Goods of this nature offered for sale over the internet from foreign countries may not comply with Australian safety or technical standards. Some gas and electrical appliances, including barbeques and personal grooming items, may not be able to be modified to comply with Australian standards and could present a serious safety risk if used.

Pirated and Counterfeit Goods

Copyright piracy and trade mark counterfeiting are illegal.

  • If you buy pirated or counterfeit items you risk buying a flawed product and you are supporting an illegal trade that could involve serious criminal activity.
  • You can assist in combating copyright piracy and counterfeiting of trade marks by not bringing pirated or counterfeit goods into Australia.
  • In some circumstances, pirated and counterfeit goods imported into Australia are liable to seizure by Customs and Border Protection and people importing such goods may be legally prosecuted.

When Duty and Taxes are Payable

All imported goods are subject to assessment for duty, Goods and Services Tax (GST) and other taxes and charges even if you imported those goods for your own use.

Duty rates are determined by the tariff classification for your goods. The Customs Tariff Act 1995 provides the tariff classifications, duty rates, interpretive rules and information on preference schemes, other concessions and exemptions that may apply to your goods. More information is available on the working tariff 2012 page.

GST is payable on most goods at a rate of 10%.  (See examples below)

Imported goods valued at or below A$1000

Generally, there is no requirement to pay duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) on imported goods valued at or below A$1000, except for alcohol (refer to Example 2 where Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) is also payable) and/or tobacco products (refer to Example 4).

Imported goods with a value at or below A$1000 that arrive by air or sea cargo will require a self-assessed clearance (SAC) declaration to be lodged with Customs and Border Protection. 

There are no Customs and Border Protection charges for making a SAC declaration.

For more information about SAC declarations see the fact sheet Self-assessed Clearance (SAC) Declarations.

Goods with a value at or below A$1000 that arrive by post do not require a SAC declaration. 

For more information on goods that arrive in Australia by post click on importing goods by post.

Imported goods with a value above A$1000

If your imported goods arrive in Australia by air cargo, sea cargo or by post and their value is above A$1000, in most cases, you will be required to make an Import Declaration and pay the calculated duty and taxes.

An Import Declaration is a statement made to Customs and Border Protection providing information about imported goods.

There is a Customs and Border Protection import processing charge for making an import declaration. Information on Customs and Border Protection fees and charges is available in Australian Customs Notice 2006/21.

For more information about import declarations see the fact sheet Import Declarations.

Imported goods may also require clearance from Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS).  More information on AQIS requirements is available at www.daff.gov.au/aqis

Calculating Duty and Taxes

Duty, GST and other taxes are calculated and payable when you make an import declaration for goods that have a value above A$1000 or if you import alcohol and/or tobacco products.  When your import declaration is processed, Customs and Border Protection will provide you with a payment advice.  The payment advice will show all amounts payable to Customs and Border Protection relating to your imported goods.

If you use the services of a licensed customs broker for your imported goods, all Customs and Border Protection liabilities incurred are electronically forwarded to your broker.

When goods that you import are valued at more than A$1000, or include tobacco, tobacco products and/or alcohol of any value, a Customs value is used as the basis for calculating the amount of any duty and/or GST and other taxes payable.

Duty is determined on the Customs value of the goods.  The Customs value of the goods is usually the amount you paid for your goods, converted to Australian currency.  The exchange rate that is used is the rate applied on the day the goods were posted or exported.

GST is paid on the Value of the Taxable Importation (VoTI).

The VoTI is the sum of:

  • the Customs value (Cval)
  • transport and insurance cost (or postage and insurance) (T&I)
  • any duty payable, plus
  • WET (if applicable).

The information below on calculating duty and taxes is provided as a guide only.

Example 1: An importation of multiple low value packages of goods (for example, six packages of video cameras each valued at A$200) (One consignment)

A$

Customs value (6 x $200) (Cval)

1200.00

Customs duty (Duty) @ 5% of Cval

60.00

(Payable)

International transport and insurance or postage (T&I)

150.00

Value of the Taxable Importation (VoTI) (Cval+Duty+T&I)

1410.00

Goods and Services Tax (GST) @ 10% of the VoTI

141.00

(Payable)

Total payable Duty + GST

201.00

Example 2: An importation of low value wine (valued at A$400)

A$

Customs value (Cval)

400.00

Customs duty (Duty) @ 5% of Cval

20.00

(Payable)

International transport and insurance or postage (T&I)

75.00

Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) @ 29 per cent of (Cval+Duty+T&I)

143.55

(Payable)

Value of the Taxable Importation (VoTI) (Cval+Duty+T&I+WET)

638.55

Goods and Services Tax (GST) @ 10% of the VoTI

63.85

(Payable)

Total payable Duty + WET + GST

227.40

Example 3: An importation of goods (other than tobacco products or alcoholic beverages) valued above A$1000

A$

Customs value (Cval)

2000.00

Customs duty (Duty) @ 5% of Cval

100.00

(Payable)

International transport and insurance or postage (T&I)

150.00

Value of the Taxable Importation (VoTI) (Cval+Duty+T&I)

2250.00

Goods and Services Tax (GST) @ 10% of the VoTI

225.00

(Payable)

Total payable Duty + GST

325.00

Example 4: An importation of low value tobacco products (for example, 200 sticks = 8 packets x 25 sticks valued at A$60)

A$

Customs value (Cval)

60.00

Customs duty (Duty)@ $0.34889 per stick

69.78

(Payable)

International transport and insurance or postage (T&I)

30.00

Value of the Taxable Importation (VoTI)
(Cval+Duty+T&I)

159.78

Goods and Services Tax (GST) @ 10% of the VoTI

15.98

(Payable)

Total payable Duty + GST

85.76

Customs duty of $0.34889/stick is the rate applicable as of 1/8/2012*

(Customs duty rates are subject to change.  Please check the current published rates)

(Other import processing charges may apply)

Further Information

For more information on any importation matter, contact the Customs Information and Support Centre (CI&SC) on 1300 363 263 or email information@customs.gov.au

You can also contact the CI&SC on +61 2 9313 3010 from outside Australia.

http://www.customs.gov.au/site/page5549.asp modified: 13 August, 2012 12:52 PM