Import Regulations - Australia
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.
For general information about relevant import regulations for Australia, Canadian companies should:
- consult the web site of the Australian Customs & Border Protection Service,
- or the Customs Procedures for Importing and Exporting.
The minimum documentation required to be submitted with customs import entries or Informal Clearance Documents includes an air way-bill or bill of lading, invoices, and any other papers (including packing lists, insurance documents, etc) relating to the shipment.
Import Entry Costs
A customs import entry must be lodged for goods imported by air, sea or post above the value of $1,000 per consignment.
Cost recovery charges apply for the processing of entries. The cost will depend on whether the entry is an electronic entry or a documentary (manual) entry.
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.
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 both preferential reasons i.e. determining eligibility for benefits such as reduced rates of duty, and non-preferential reasons such as the imposition of anti-dumping and countervailing duties, country of origin marking, etc.
Rates of duty payable by an importer are determined by the classification of goods within the Australian Customs Tariff. In some circumstances, anti-dumping or countervailing measures, which result in the imposition of additional rates of duty, may also apply.
Imported goods may be subjected to one or more indirect taxes. These indirect taxes comprise the goods and services tax, the wine equalisation tax and the luxury car tax.
Goods and Services Tax (GST)
GST applies to most imported goods. There are few exemptions from the GST, the main ones being certain basic foodstuffs, some medical aids and appliances and imports that qualify for certain customs duty concessions. GST is applied at 10% of the value of the taxable importation. The taxable importation is calculated as the customs value of the imported goods + customs duty (if applicable) + international transport & insurance costs + wine tax (if applicable).
Wine Equalisation Tax (WET)
WET applies to the following alcoholic beverages: Grape wine, including sparkling wine and fortified wine; Grape wine products such as marsala, vermouth, wine cocktails and creams; Other fruit wines and vegetable wines, including fortified fruit wines and vegetable wines; cider; perry; mead and sake, including fortified mead. WET is applied at 29% of the purchase price at inwards duty free OR 29% of the importation cost i.e. customs value + customs duty + transport/insurance costs.
Luxury Car Tax (LCT)
LCT is a tax of 33% imposed on the GST-inclusive value of luxury cars over the relevant LCT threshold. You must generally pay LCT when you sell or import a luxury car. You must pay LCT as well as any GST payable. The LCT threshold for the 2011-12 financial year are: $57,466 which is equal to the car limit and $75,375 for fuel-efficient cars. A luxury car is a car with a GST-inclusive value above the LCT threshold. Under LCT law, a car is a motor powered road vehicle that is designed to carry the following: a load of less than two tonnes; less than nine passengers. It includes: passenger cars; station wagons; four-wheel drive vehicles; limousines - regardless of the number of passengers they are designed to carry. The term "car" does not include: trucks and vans designed to carry a load of more than two tonnes; vehicles, such as buses, designed to carry nine or more passengers; motorcycles or similar vehicles; racing and rally cars that are not road vehicles and cannot be registered for use on public roads in any country in the world. These racing or rally cars are designed for use only on rally or racing circuits.
Commerce Trade Descriptions
Importers are required to ensure that goods entering the commerce of Australia are correctly marked. Trade description markings must be:
- in English;
- in prominent and legible characters;
- on a principal label or brand attached to the goods in a prominent position in a manner as permanent as is practicable; and,
- in certain circumstances include the country of origin.
Importers uncertain of any aspect of Customs requirements on labelling/trade description should contact a Australian Customs Information Centre.
Animals and animal products, food and plant imports
All food imported into Australia must comply with quarantine requirements (animal and plant disease control) where applicable and with the Imported Food Program for matters relating to food safety. Imported food must comply as well with relevant provisions of the Food Standards Code.
To satisfy quarantine requirements it may be necessary for importers of certain foods to obtain a Permit to Import Quarantine material.
Quarantine import permits must be obtained for products derived from animals, plants and micro-organisms (including the micro-organisms themselves) that are:
- human, animal or fish foods (including dairy products) as well as plant products for livestock feeds (but not processed plant products for human food);
- human or veterinary therapeutics, medicines or vaccines including unprocessed dried herbal medicines, which are likely to harbour micro-organisms (but not processed plant materials;
- agricultural materials; or,
- food manufacturing materials.
For more information on Australian quarantine requirements, you can consult the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) Import Conditions Database (ICON).
Food imported to Australia must comply with the Imported Food Program , which is jointly run by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). FSANZ develops food risk assessment policy for the Imported Food Program and AQIS has operational responsibility for inspection and sampling.
To be legally offered for sale in Australia, all imported foods must comply with relevant food regulations of the Food Standards Code. The Code can be consulted on line. For more information on the Food Standards Code, you should contact Food Standards Australia New Zealand.
Goods subject to import controls
Some specific categories of goods are subject to import controls. Where goods are subject to import controls under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) regulations, the importers must apply to the appropriate department or agency for a permission to import. The permission to import must be obtained prior to the goods arriving in Australia.
Below is an indicative list of products subject to import controls, as well as names of the relevant Australian authorities to contact to obtain further information:
- Certain drugs and goods containing those drugs - hazardous and health related manufactured articles and substances
- Firearms - other weapons
- Local (State) Police Authorities
- Protected wildlife (animals) and related products
- Protected cultural heritage items
- Motor vehicles
- Restricted trading (certain countries)
- Labelling of goods
- Intellectual property
- All importers and/or manufacturers of industrial chemicals for commercial purposes must register with the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) regardless of the amount of industrial chemicals imported and/or manufactured in that registration year. The Registration year runs from 1 September to 31 August in the following year.
Other hazardous/dangerous goods
Goods subject to prohibition or restriction are many and varied. They may include items, goods, or substances as diverse as the following
Certain breeds of dogs; toys and other articles containing quantities of lead, mercury, arsenic or their compounds which exceed prescribed limits; explosives; flamethrowers; daggers capable of being concealed; hand-held battery-operated devices designed to administer an electric shock; blowpipes; pistol crossbows; nunchakus; shuriken throwing irons or stars; protective jackets and vests; erasers resembling food; firearms, parts and ammunition including replicas; disposable cigarette lighters which do not meet the construction and performance standards, including child resistant features.
If importers have any doubt as to whether or not goods they wish to import require permits, they should contact an Australian Customs Information Centre.
Tariffs and Market Access Information
- Trade in Goods - Tariff Information by country
- Trade in Goods - Update on Tariffs and Non-Tariff Measures