Import Requirements and Documentation in Australia

A Hot Tip about Trade Policy and Regulations in Australia

Last updated: 23 Feb 2011

Importing Goods

The Australian Customs Service has sole jurisdiction to clear imports. Local importers are responsible for obtaining formal Customs clearance for goods. While there are several methods of valuing goods for Customs purposes, the method most frequently 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 that 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 Customs.


Goods entering Australia may incur duty, Goods and Services Tax (GST), and/or additional charges. Customs duty rates vary and depend on a number of factors, such as type of goods and country of origin. As stated above, 99% of U.S.-origin goods enter Australia duty free. The importer is still responsible for applicable GST payments. Customs does not require companies or individuals to hold import licenses, but importers may need to obtain permits to clear the goods. The minimum amount of documentation required for Customs clearance comprises a completed Customs Entry or Informal Clearance Document (ICD), an air waybill (AWB) or bill of lading (BLAD), as well as invoices and other documents relating to the importation. Customs does not require the completion of a special form of invoice. Normal commercial invoices, bills of lading, and receipts are acceptable. These documents should contain the following information:


• invoice terms (e.g., FOB, CIF)

• monetary unit referred to on invoice (e.g. AUD, USD)

• country of origin

• name and address of the seller of the goods (Consignor)


Some authorities issuing permits required for import publish brochures/pamphlets about their areas of concern. These agency publications may not, however, always reflect current Customs legislation and procedures as they are often modified. It would be advisable to contact a Customs Information Center to check these issues.


Goods and Services Tax (GST)

The liability to pay a 10% GST for imports rests with the importer. Payment of GST may not be required for temporary importation of goods. Imported, second-hand goods are treated the same way as any taxable goods and are therefore subject to GST. Under the GST, the amount paid or payable for international transport and insurance is also added to the taxable importation value.




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Posted: 06 January 2010, last updated 23 February 2011

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