Chris Mckirdy – licensed customs broker

Chris Mckirdy explains the highly specialised work of a Licensed Customs Broker and how the services of this professional can assist when creating your Formal Import Declaration.

When creating an export declaration for goods exiting Australia you currently do not need to be a licensed or authorised individual or entity to communicate the details to border control agencies.

When creating a Formal import declaration (FID) relating to goods imported to Australia you are required to engage the services of a licensed and authorised individual or entity to communicate the details to the various border control agencies. These individuals are Licensed Customs Brokers or an entity who holds a Corporate Customs Broker’s License.

A couple of reasons why you need to engage a Licensed Customs Broker is because they are qualified and trained in this highly specialised field of work and it is a legislated requirement for FID entries.

While it may not be a legislated requirement for a licensed and authorised individual to communicate an export declaration, some goods may require an export permit or may even be prohibited to certain countries or certain goods may be restricted or prohibited for export.

“Dual use goods”, as listed in the Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL) and the international movement of such goods is legislated in many countries. The importation or exportation of restricted or prohibited dual use goods without permits can attract severe penalties for all parties involved in the transaction. The DSGL is in two parts: Part 1 lists military goods and Part 2 lists the dual use goods.

In addition to possible prohibitions or permit requirements, other potential areas of interest of export goods may be Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) to specified countries. If your products are able to gain duty free import to country of destination, you clients will enjoy the benefits or reduced import cost of goods.

As a Licensed Customs Broker I always suggest to clients who are looking for overseas suppliers to first consider countries with an FTA with Australia. For goods that would normally attract import duty, with an FTA they save 5% on the value of the imported goods. The reduction on the duty value also decreases the import GST liability.

If Australian importers are looking at FTA partner countries to reduce import costs it makes sense that overseas FTA countries will be keen to do business with Australia to reduce their import costs also.

The Customs Gazette lists Tariff Concession Orders (TCOs) before they are approved for duty free import into Australia. TCOs may be approved on all sorts of goods that importers are importing to Australia, claiming they cannot buy from local manufacturers, therefore requesting a concession on the import duty.

If you are a manufacturer you can look through the Gazette and identify any goods that your organisation does and can manufacture (in the ordinary course of business) as it may provide some opportunities for your organisation. Lodging an appeal or objection can bring to the importer’s attention your firm’s capabilities and you could even engage in a win-win situation where the TCO is not granted, benefiting your organisation and supplying the local buyer with goods they might normally import from overseas.

You may also come across existing TCOs which you may lodge an objection to, have the TCO revoked and open up the possibility of gaining contracts to supply local buyers with substitutable goods.

Part of my role as a Licensed Customs Broker is to ensure importers comply with the requirements of import permits, prohibitions and restrictions on specific goods. Some goods are prohibited under the Customs Act and not allowed entry to Australia, other goods may be restricted and some require an import permit or permission from permit issuing agencies. AQIS and Imported Foods also prohibit the importation of certain goods and many foods items require import permits.

AQIS is a great source of information for export advice on goods such as biological products, food, animals and plants. AQIS is the permit issuing authority for many of these types of goods. Having the correct statements, certificates, permits and declarations to accompany your goods to the country of destination will help to ensure a quicker border clearance in the export country.

A similar situation applies when importing: if the correct documents are not in place, the clearance is delayed and costs are incurred. Sometimes a simple statement on the commercial invoice might suffice. Such as “ goods are new and have not been used or field tested and have not come in contact with food, soil, plants or any other biological agents.”

Your Customs Broker or expert professional is the best place to start your enquiries, they can then advise you which departments can issue export permits or certificates for you and what sort of statements you can include with your export documentation.

I have much joy when I see a “complete set of documents” with certificates, statements and declarations that cover all the necessary requirements to enable me to clear the importer’s goods quickly.

All Licensed Customs Brokers are authorised to work in all areas of the Commonwealth, therefore a customs broker can clear goods from any state in Australia, into any state into Australia.

Ms Chris Mckirdy, a licensed Customs Broker with 14 years industry experience, is Director, SAC Import Clearance. SAC Import Clearance offers assistance on any aspect of Customs clearance, logistics and freight-forwarding – at reasonable rates and personal, 7-day per week service.

Ph: 0428-782-557.

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