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If you are an Australian business owner and you are considering importing goods into Australia, there are certain regulations you should be aware of. The Australian Border Force is the main body that controls the importation of goods into Australia. While there is no overall licence you require to import goods into Australia, you may need a permit or follow certain requirements to import specific goods into Australia. This article will explore:

  • the duties and charges that may be due and payable;
  • what goods are prohibited goods;
  • what goods require permission or have certain restrictions on importation;
  • the seizure of intellectual property that has been imported; and
  • becoming an Australian trusted trader.

Duties and Other Charges

There are a range of duties and charges when you are importing into Australia that you must consider.

The Price and Type of Goods


For goods with a value of $AUD 1000 or less

Generally, there are no duties, taxes or charges to pay at the border. However, you must have a self-assessed clearance declaration (SAC) if the goods are arriving by air or sea cargo filled out by the freight company. If the goods arrive by post or mail, you do not require a SAC declaration. GST may apply to these goods, and the overseas seller may collect this at the point of sale of the goods.

For goods with a value of over $AUD 1000 and that are being cleared into home consumption

You need to fill out an import declaration and pay duties and taxes. There is a processing charge for making an import declaration. The importer or their agent may make an import declaration which is a statement about the goods being imported, the tariff classification and the customs value. You can use a licensed customs broker to help you import the goods and complete the import declaration. If you intend to import your goods into a customs licensed warehouse before clearing them from customs, you will need to complete a warehouse declaration.

Tobacco products and alcohol

Regardless of the value of the goods, you need to pay duties and taxes.

Additional Charges

Other charges, including import processing charges and dumping and countervailing duties, may also be payable on the goods.

Note: Dumping is when goods are exported to Australia at a lower price than what has been charged in the manufacturing country.

If you export the goods, you may be entitled to a refund (also known as a duty drawback). This is only if the goods you have exported are unused since importation or on the contrary are treated, processed, or incorporated into other goods for export.

Prohibited Goods

There are some goods that you are prohibited from importing into Australia.

Type of restriction

Examples of Goods

Prohibited absolutely from being imported into Australia

Certain dangerous breeds of dogs

Chemical weapons

Must obtain permission in writing from a Minister or authorised person about importing the goods


Anabolic or androgenic substances

Cosmetics with toxic materials


Hazardous waste

Cultural heritage goods

Must comply with specified conditions, restrictions or requirements, including safety standards


Gas and electrical goods



Some goods require a label with a trade description before you can import them into Australia. However, this is not a requirement for all goods. Indeed, authorities may seize goods at the border if they require labelling and the goods are not labelled. This is especially relevant when the goods have a false or misleading trade description. For example, goods that require labels include:

  • food;
  • electrical appliances;
  • toys; and
  • cigars and cigarettes.

Here, a trade description is any description of the goods. 

As such, a false trade description can be any description that is false or likely to mislead. For example, this could include things like false details of the size, weight, quality and quantity of the goods. Furthermore, it could also include if the information is omitted from the trade description.

Intellectual Property

Authorities can seize some goods at the border if they infringe on trade mark, copyright or olympic expression relating to major sporting events. However, the party that is the owner of the intellectual property, for example, a trademark owner of a particular logo, will need to lodge a ‘notice of objection’. This is a legal document that allows the Australian Border Force to seize the goods if they infringe on the specific trade mark.

For example, suppose you import counterfeit or pirated goods into Australia, and the original owner of the intellectual property in those goods has lodged a notice of objection. In that case, the goods may be seized.

Australian Trusted Trader

If you are importing goods regularly, you could consider becoming accredited as an Australian trusted trader. Indeed, there are specific requirements to meet to become an Australian trusted trader, which includes:

  • having been active in the international supply chain for at least two years;
  • being financially solvent; and
  • having an Australian Business Number (ABN).

Becoming a trusted trader is free and accredits your business with compliant trade practices and a secure supply chain. Furthermore, once you become a trusted trader, you will have access to a range of benefits to simplify the customs process.

Key Takeaways

When importing goods into Australia, it is imperative to be aware of regulations and rules so you can import your goods safely into Australia. Indeed, there could be duties or other charges payable on your goods that you will want to know prior to importing the goods. Furthermore, certain goods require a permit or require you to follow certain requirements, and other goods are prohibited absolutely. If you are importing goods regularly, you may also want to consider becoming accredited as an Australian trusted trader. 

If you need help importing goods into Australia get in touch today for advice get in touch with LegalVision’s Regulatory and Compliance lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do duties and charges apply when I import goods into Australia?

There are a range of duties and charges when you are importing into Australia that you must consider, and these change depending on the value of the goods. Generally, for goods under $AUD 1000, there are no duties, taxes or charges to pay at the border.

Can I import anything into Australia?

There are some goods that you are prohibited from importing into Australia. For example, certain breeds of dangerous dogs and chemical weapons are strictly prohibited.


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