Businesses considering importing should be aware of government regulations, duty taxes, permits, and quarantine and treatments that apply to imported goods.
The Australian Border Force is the newly-merged Australian government agency, tasked with border protection and national security duties. This agency was established on 1 July 2015 after the merger of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and some parts of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP).
ABF needs to clear goods on import. As such, the following considerations may apply:
- Import permits, quarantine permits and treatments for the specific category and type of imported goods
- Mandatory safety or information standards (if applicable)
Imports that do not meet these requirements can be seized by the ABF.
ABF provides information on duties and import regulations such as import requirements, prohibited goods and import permits.
There may be costs incurred depending on the type and value of the goods or products imported. These can include clearance fees, customs duty, Goods and Services Tax (GST) and other taxes.
Restricted or prohibited Imports
Some goods may carry special restrictions or be prohibited from being imported. Additional registrations/permissions may be required for goods containing industrial chemicals such as cosmetics, solvents, adhesives, plastics, inks, printing and photocopying chemicals, paints, household cleaning products and toiletries..
Firms should exercise care and seek information about prohibited and restricted goods to ensure compliance with legislative requirements before attempting to import restricted goods.
As an island nation, Australia has very strict quarantine laws which are administered by the Department of Agriculture & Water Resources (formerly the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service - AQIS).
Goods that fall under quarantine regulations including plant, animal, mineral or human products will need to be inspected and/or possibly treated for pests or diseases.
Department of Agriculture’s import conditions database ICON provides information on import conditions for foreign plant, animal, mineral and human commodities.
Department of Agriculture: Importing Information.
Importers are required to ensure that imported goods entering Australia are correctly labelled. It is an offence to import goods that do not bear a required trade description, or bear a false, incorrect or misleading trade description or if required information is omitted.
Intellectual Property Rights
Under certain circumstances, the ABF can seize goods that infringe trade marks, copyright or protected insignia (e.g. Olympic or royal symbols) which may be detected at the time of importation.
Using Customs Brokers
Utilising the services of a customs broker to complete customs import entries and related clearance formalities is recommended. Brokers specialise in the clearance of imported goods and are licensed by Customs. Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia (CBFCA)
Standards, Certification & Testing
Standards Australia is Australia’s peak non-government Standards body that develops Australian Standard and brand standards. It does not regulate or enforce compliance with any Australian standards.
Australian Standards are distributed by SAI Global under licence from Standards Australia. Sales and pricing information is available from SAI Global. SAI Global Standards InfoStore
Once a Standard number has been determined, certification, inspection and testing bodies can assess whether a product conforms to an Australian Standard. Companies that carry out certification can be found by contacting the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ).
Information on testing bodies is available through the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA).
Australian Trusted Trader Programme
The Australian Trusted Trader (ATT) programme is an initiative of the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection and provides streamlined services and trade facilitation for accredited “low risk” importers, exporters and service providers such as brokers & freight forwarders.
Participants must demonstrate a history of commitment to trade compliance and supply chain security.
ATT is available to all Australian Business Number (ABN) holders that are actively involved in the international supply chain. This includes importers, exporters, domestic or international freight companies, ports, airports and brokers. Participation is via application through an initial self-assessment followed by a review.