Frequently Asked Questions and Our Answers to Them

Can I clear goods myself with Australian Customs?

Yes. However, you must be registered in the Customs online communication system and must have an approved registered Digital Certificate.

Why do I need to send commercial invoices and/or documents?
We need to properly assess and determine the value and identity of your goods. Without the correct and relevant documents we cannot assess your importation accurately and there will be a risk of paying too much duty if we don’t have the right documents. Providing us with the right information will ensure we can correctly assess your goods and apply all possible duty and GST concessions for you.
What if I don’t have a commercial sales invoice?
No worries. If you’ve purchased goods online or are receiving products as a gift, then we’ll be able to help you to declare your products so they get through Customs quickly, and usually with no additional charges.
What are some ways I can reduce my import costs?
One way to reduce the costs at time of importing your goods is to have the goods entered into Customs bond warehouse.  Any import duty and GST will be calculated but it will not be payable until such time you wish to remove goods from the bond store.  This can be beneficial for importers who often bring goods in airfreight (paying premium freight rates) with goods of high value and duty payable.  The bond storage allows you to have the goods close by so when you make a sale you can do an exit customs entry, pay the import duty and GST on only those goods you have sold.  You don’t need to remove all goods at one time and you can store the goods for as long as required.
Do I have to pay Import Duty or GST?
Typically, if the value of your goods is less than $1,000.00, you will not have to pay Import Duty or GST.  However, tobacco and alcohol will attract duty and GST. Some goods are duty free as listed in the import tariff but import GST is payable on most goods unless they are exempt under a schedule.
How long do I need to keep copies of all my paperwork?
Under section 240 of the Customs Act, you must keep copies of all documentation and correspondence relating to importation and clearance of your goods for a minimum of 5 years.
What is one of the greatest expenses at the time of importation of my goods?
Most often it is the import GST ….it is levied on the value of goods + duty + freight and insurance and at the rate of 10%.  You can defer this payment for up to one month enabling you to make this money work for you for an additional 30 days.
Do I have to pay any other charges after I pay my supplier for goods and freight?
Yes, apart from any import duty or GST and customs clearance fee you will have to pay local air or sea port handling charges.  For air freight you should allow about $100.00 up to 100kg and for sea freight allow about $300.00 for minimum of one cubic metre.
Why do I need to have to provide a packing declaration for sea freight shipments?
The document is a declaration that tells the customs broker what packing has been used, such as timber pallets.  If you don’t have this document the customs broker must refer the consignment to Quarantine (AQIS) and additional fees and delays will be incurred.  Currently there is no legislation in place for air freight consignments to have a packing declaration.
How do I know what shipping terms are best for my agreement and contract with my supplier?
Often you may be guided by the terms that suit the supplier or the advertised price of the goods under a specific shipping term such as FOB, EXworks or CIF.  It’s important for you to understand the shipping terms because this determines what fees and charges each party will be responsible for and also when the liability and ownership of the goods passes from supplier to buyer.
What is a landed cost and how can it help me with my sale price to my customers?
A landed costing provides you with all the actual costs to land the imported goods into your store.  Doing a landed cost before you agree on a buying price of the goods and the selling price to your customers is very important to determine how much profit you will actually make taking into consideration your investment in time and money.

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