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Importing Goods to Australia and New Zealand

Importing Goods to Australia and New Zealand

Are you an Australian or New Zealand-based online retailer, looking to import? "Down under" is a long way from manufacturing giants such as China and India, so to help make your import as easy as possible, here are some essential tips to get you started.

What do I need to import goods to Australia?

You don’t need a license to import to Australia in general, however some products may require special licenses such as weapons or pharmaceutics. Most consumer items such as clothing or homeware don't require any permits or licenses but if you are in doubt, speak to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service or the New Zealand Customs Service

Goods Classification

The first thing you need to do is classify your goods correctly so that the appropriate duties and tariffs (if any) apply. If you are not sure how to classify your items, don't worry: Customs provides a tariff advice service for importers who are unsure as to the correct classification or concession for their merchandise.  To take advantage of this service lodge an application with Customs along with supporting evidence. You can apply for a tariff concession on imported goods that do no compete in the market place with goods of Australian manufacture.

You are ultimately responsible for classifying goods correctly as well as all other Customs documentation –even if they were prepared by a Broker, Freight Forwarder or Service Provider. It is recommended that you check over all documents before they are given to customs and retain copies. Talk to your Broker of Freight Forwarder if there are any errors.

You also need to account for any surplus goods, promotional materials and samples.

Important: All customs documentation must be retained for 5 years.

 

What happens at customs?

Customs may decide to inspect your goods or they may waive the inspection. You do not need to submit commercial documentation, but you do need to to keep all the relevant commercial documents for 5 years after that time.

If you have an Australian Business Number(ABN) you will need to supply it to Customs when formally entering goods . Importers need to be registered for GST purposes and have an ABN in order to claim input tax credits or access the GST deferral scheme.

Duties and Tariffs – How much will they cost?

Duties and Tariffs are based on the classification code of the goods, valuation and country of origin. Valuation of imported goods can be complex and importers are urged to seek advice from a customs broker or to contact customs. 

Where do I go for help?

Customs Information and Support Centre: Ph: 1300 363 263

Email: information@customs.gov.au

Useful link: 

Business Australia

Importing to New Zealand

What am I responsible for?

When importing to New Zealand, you are responsible for:

  • Making an accurate and correct entry to New Zealand
  • Paying all Customs charges
  • Keeping all commercial documents for 7 years and providing to Customs if necessary
  • Compliance with legislative requirements

Classification of Goods

The correct classification of goods is the most complex part of importing, and for this reason, many people choose to use Customs brokers to worry about it for them!

The classification code which best fits your merchandise will determine the tariffs and duties you have to pay.  You are ultimately responsible for choosing the correct classification code.

Whether you complete this process yourself, or receive help from a broker or Customs, you will need to provide the following information:

  • Purchase invoice
  • Manufacturer's costings
  • Freight and insurance costs
  • Product sample
  • Catalogues or brochures
  • Evidence of origin
  • Proof of payment.

For some items you will also need:

Whether you complete this process yourself, or receive help from a broker or Customs, you will need to provide the following information:

  • An airway bill or bill of lading.
  • Invoices.
  • Packing lists
  • Insurance certificates.

Importers may also need to contact shipping companies, airlines or freight forwarders for advice on their requirements, operating hours and/or location of the goods.

Who can help me Classify goods?

For first time importers, Customs run training programs which you can attend. 

For successive imports, you will be expected to complete the entry yourself or use a Customs broker or agent, or freight forwarder.  All import entries must be completed electronically using the appropriate software or over the Internet.

Remember that you are responsible for the accuracy of the customs documents - even when they are completed by a broker or agent - so it’s important to check all details.

Where do I find a Customs broker?

Customs brokers and freight forwarders are listed in New Zealand business directories under those headings. A list of those affiliated to CBAFF is also available.

How much will I have to pay in Tariffs and Duties?

Tariffs and duties are determined by the classification of your goods, the country of origin, and preference toward some countries as per trade agreements.  Where duty is expressed as a percentage rate, it is calculated on the Customs value of the goods.

More Tariff information

GST

GST (Goods and Services tax) of 15% applies to almost everything imported to New Zealand.

GST is payable on the sum of following amounts:

  • The Customs value of the goods
  • Any import duty, anti-dumping and countervailing duties, ALAC or HERA levies payable (see above)
  • The freight and insurance costs of transporting the goods to New Zealand.

Import Entry Transaction Fee

An Import Entry Transaction Fee of $25.38 (GST inclusive) is payable on every commercial import entry and import declaration for goods with a duty and GST liability of $50 or more.

How do I pay fees?

There are three payment options:

  • Cash
  • Deferred payment — only available to importers who are holders of a deferred account
  • Broker deferred — available on the request of an agent who holds a broker deferred account. It is not available to an importer who holds a deferred account.For more information see:

NZ Customs

NZ Government

Ministry of Economic Development

Do you have a question about importing to Australia or New Zealand? Ask below and we will do our best to assist! 

50 Comments view all Add your comment
Site Admin
@liana: You may get full details at http://www.customs.govt.nz/news/resources/factsheets/Documents/Fact%20Sheet%2028.pdf Reply
Hi Irene I would like to import hand bags from China to Australia Do I require an import licence to do so? Secondly are there any requirements to import handbags or is it pretty straight forward with just paying custom fees etc. Thanks a lot. Reply
Site Admin
Hi Eslem, The policy on importing handbags to Australia can be verified in detail at their site http://customs.gov.au/ You need to make sure of the authenticity of brand name products from China because the Australian government is very strict on this - http://customs.gov.au/site/content4004.asp Hope this helps. :) Reply
Hi I tried to go to a link you posted for someone else but it wouldn't open. I want to import baby clothes in bulk I think they are from China and sell them to friends. I don't know anything about this, Is it illegal ? What process do I need to go through ? Reply
Site Admin
@Michelle: Importing is not illegal, it only becomes so if you import fake brand name products. :) Learn more about importing from China from this information from our Education Resource http://www.salehoo.com/education/importing-shipping/all-about-importing-from-china Reply
Hello, does anyone here know the health and safety requirements for importing goods such as laptops and tablet pcs from China into NZ? What certifications are required, e.g. is CE enough? Reply
Site Admin
@Jawed: YOu can find full information on importing to New Zealand at their website http://www.business.govt.nz/growing/importing Hope this helps! Reply
Hi Irene, Just wanted to know if there are any specific guidelines to import flavoured chocolates from India to New Zealand? Thanks. Reply
Site Admin
@Kalpesh: Please see http://www.foodsafety.govt.nz/industry/importing/guide/ Cheers! Reply
Hi Irene, the article above has been very helpful. However, going straight to my question, would you be able to pinpoint me to direct information on regulation regarding import of beauty products (cosmetics, perfumes and makeups) into Australia for retail/wholesale? I'm a little overwhelmed by the abundance of information available over the internet. Thanks! Reply
Site Admin
@GC: Sure, please go to http://www.daff.gov.au/aqis/import/biological/checklist/cosmetics and http://www.nicnas.gov.au/current_issues/cosmetics.asp for specific info. Cheers! Reply
Hi Irene., I want to import 1 tonn SoyaBean oil Fron Malaysia., What kind of documents and licences i will need for that? Looking forward to hear from you soon., Kindly regards ALEXUS Reply
Site Admin
@Alexus: You may get full information directly from http://www.daff.gov.au/fees/aqisfees-charges/import Reply
What a great site! Just discovered it. I'm presently living in China (the World's factory) and doing the leg-work to start import business selling in Australia and online. Your site is a real gem. Thank you so much. May you have continued success. Reply
Hey Irene, thank you very much for all of your answers. They are very helpful to millions of people around the world. By the way, I am going to start my export to Australia from India. The item is absorbent cotton which is used in clinic and hospitals. And also cotton related products like cotton pads, balls etc. So kindly guide me what I should need to do to export to Australia and how much this process will cost me. Reply
Site Admin
@Ashish: I'm glad to be of help. Sorry though but I don't think you can export cotton out of India. Please check your country's latest news about this - http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9808918a-66a4-11e1-863c-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1uNlArxky Reply
Hi I am looking to open a new business and importing confectioney and truffle from Italy. Can you please let me know how to do this? Reply
Site Admin
@Leo: To find the import policy for bringing confectionery into Australia, you may consult AQIS’s Import Conditions database (ICON) at http://www.aqis.gov.au/icon32/asp/homecontent.asp. This database lists the conditions under which various products/ commodities may be brought into Australia. Hope this helps! Reply
Hi Irene I want to import accessory like jewellery made of just metal and cubic stones ( no gold or silver) from Japan. Do i need a import permit? Or is it a difficult process? Reply
Sorry, can I please add one more question, If my product does not fall under any of following license or categories from websites, can i just go and buy my product from Japan to import into Australia or do i still need to let someone know what I am bringing. Do I still need a approval? Reply
Site Admin
@Peter: All importing procedures need a permit. This should be easy to do if you follow the steps required from their site - http://customs.gov.au/ Cheers! Reply
Hi! My husband and I want to get into importing American cars and spare parts to Australia. Could you please tell me the process of getting an importers license and any other things I need to do .to get started. Your advice would be very much appreciated. Thanks - Barbara. Reply
Site Admin
@Barbara: You can find detailed information about importing cars to Australia at http://www.customs.gov.au/site/page4371.asp Cheers! Reply
I'm about to start an online business selling herbs and paste. I'll be importing from Malaysia. Do I have to meet the Australia food regulation laws and also what do I need to do in terms of fees such as taxes and licence? Reply
Hi, I have recently started a small business selling homewares and some furniture items (chairs, tables, shelving), we currently buy off a wholesaler but am keen to take the next step and bring stuff in that we source from countries such as china, india and indonesia. what are the necessary steps, can you point me in a more specific direction? Great website and thank you.. Reply
Site Admin
@Tess and @David: Much as we would like to provide each of the steps needed, you can best confirm this directly with the importing department of the country, as the policy and fees vary by the product and origin of the items you are going to import. We wish you the best! Reply
HI , I am trying to import printed teatowels from China, How do I know that the people I am dealing with are legitimate and wont rip me off, also how do find out ways to get them here to Australia? Reply
Site Admin
@Suzy, please see http://www.salehoo.com/education/scam-prevention/problems-dealing-with-chinese-suppliers and http://www.salehoo.com/education/scam-prevention/catching-the-crooks-is-your-wholesaler-dodgy-or-legitimate You can get detailed information by getting in touch with information@customs.gov.au Reply
Exporting / importing food products (containing meat) from NZ to Aus. I have spent hours looking at AQIS web and i just get lost. There must be someone in Australia that I can talk to? Kind regards, Pat Reply
Site Admin
Hi pat, Meat and meat products are prescribed goods, information is at http://www.daff.gov.au/aqis/export/food Hope this helps. :) Reply
Nice and informative article! Thx, I would like to share some information more for the readers, especially for the Australian Business owners who want to get an abn registration. Applying for an abn might take a lot of your time and patience, where it takes more time to complete the registration process, where as you can complete the registration within an hour though you need to pay $45 to get the work done and requires you to fill another form to get assisted, leaving these drawbacks behind, you can get guaranteed service in a hassle free manner, it takes comparatively less time to complete the registration of abn Australia, with the expert team of professionals who are experienced and qualified tax agents, make it easier for you to get the work done. They also provide the GST registration and business name registration services. Hope it will help you, if you need anything else please feel free to contact me. Sorry for my bad english, I am not a native!! Reply
Hi, Irene. I would like to import beers in Australia, how much insurance will cost for 1 container of beer value at $30,000 not including excise? and if the freight forwarder is insured for the container when they dispatch it from port to my store? Thank you very much in advance. Reply
Site Admin
@Lyn Sorry but I don't have the details for that. You may confirm with them directly at Customs Information and Support Centre: Ph: 1300 363 263 Email: information@customs.gov.au Reply
Hello I just received my Provisional PR visa for Western Australia, We are arriving to Australia in April, We would like to import goods from India to Australia , can anyone advice which Indian items & products are in Australia ? We are also planning to export Australian products to India ...please advice which product to export from Australia to India...I am aware of all export import procedures.. Thanks in advance. Reply
Hi Irene I am planning to import metal jewellery from India to Australia and retail it over here. I want to know the full process for this. Do I need some licenses to Export from India and Import In Australia. What customs do I need to pay in Australia, and what are other formalities for the same. Cheers Reply
Hi Irene,I am planning to buy a second hand bag,belt and shoes with a total value less than $1000 from Japan and definitely not a fake product. I import them for my personal use. I sent email to the email address:information@customs.gov.au and got a reply which the answer was pretty generic and not specific to my question.
Will I be paying custom duty on these products? Reply
Site Admin
Hi there! The Custom rules and regulations vary per country, and from what I have learned, there is no tax imposed for goods imported into Australia for products costing AUD1000 and below. This was confirmed by some Australia based buyers at http://forum.purseblog.com/louis-vuitton-shopping/aussies-have-you-tried-buying-ebay-japan-sellers-764613.html
Hope this helps! :) Reply
hi Irene,we have relocated in queenstown newzealand recently ,my husband is an australian citizen and I have Aus PR .
now we are thinking of importing artificial jewellery (only metal,thread,beads, stones) from india but have no clue about the laws and duties ..please guide us regarding the procedure duties we would have to pay ... Reply
Site Admin
Hi there Deepika,

India is a priority relationship with New Zealand, being New Zealand's 15th-largest bilateral trading partner and second largest source of international students - http://www.mfat.govt.nz/Trade-and-Economic-Relations/2-Trade-Relationships-and-Agreements/India/ hence I don't think you will have much restrictions. :) The products you have mentioned is not among the prohibited. In general, all products for import must comply with New Zealand's standards protecting health, safety and the environment. Products which are governed by these regulations must adhere to specific New Zealand or joint New Zealand-Australia standards to be allowed to get imported to NZ :). You may view detailed information at
http://www.tradecommissioner.gc.ca/eng/document.jsp?did=17369&cid=516&oid=497

I am not in a position to state what specific costs or duties you will pay based on the items you will import,so I strongly advise that you seek information directly from New Zealand Customs http://www.customs.govt.nz/about/contactus/Pages/default.aspx

Cheers! :) Reply
Hi I want to import coffee into australia do I need a permit for that.? Reply
Site Admin
Hi Alex,



For green coffee beans, yes, you will need a permit. :) Please refer to http://trucktrailershow.com.au/assets/mice/Bringing%20Goods%20into%20Australia.pdf



Hope this helps. :) Reply
Hi i am in the process of importing kava from the pacific islands to re sell to kava drinkers in Australia.What are the requirements of starting up a business like so....Please advice

Cheers! Reply
Site Admin
Hello Dan,

Here's the basic guideline as well as contact information of whom you should get in touch with regarding your plan to import kava to Australia - http://www.customs.gov.au/site/page4369.asp#e1065 and http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/ocs-tc-guidance-imp-kava

Hope this helps! Good luck :) Reply
Hi Team,

I'm about to start a new company. I'll be trading and bringing Shoe soles / Shoes from India to NZ. Initially, samples though !! Do I need an import license / permit to bring them in ? Also, would you recommend me to deal with an import agent as I know a very little about import procedures and licensing ? Reply
Site Admin
Hi Rudy,

Yes to both - other than securing an import permit, you will need to do the steps laid out in the article above and an import agent would be useful. :)

We wish you the best! Reply
Hi I have recently purchased some Disney fabric for sewing and reselling from the USA. However been told I can't sell them as I didn't buy them from the Australian distributor . Is this correct? Reply
Site Admin
Hello Terri,

It maybe so... This is the trouble sometimes when you resell well know branded and/or trademarked items as you have to source them from the authorized distributors.

Although a possible loophole might be if you actually bought those from a licensed reseller in the US. If you did, you might want to get a letter of proof from them or something of the like so you can resell in Australia.

Good luck! Reply
I want to import Horse Rugs from India to Australia, what do I need to do ? Reply
Site Admin
Hello Alicia,

I think it would be best that you get in touch with the Australian customs and border protection service to ask for the specific procedures required as well as the paperwork you need to submit for your coming import - http://www.customs.gov.au/site/page5653.asp

Hope this helps! Reply
Hi, i am shamim from Bangladesh I want to sale some bed sheet, cuson cover & dress as well in Australia & others country also. Reply
Hi guys,

I want to become imported of alcohol beverages / spirits to Australia. As far as I understand I need to register ABN with GST, right? I already know all customs costs (GST, LAL, etc). Is there anything I'm missing? Also, can you suggest any good sea freight brokers?

Thankfully, Reply
Site Admin
Hi Miljan,

From http://www.business.gov.au/BusinessTopics/Registrationandlicences/Registerfortaxation/Pages/RegisterforGoodsandServicesTax%28GST%29.aspx yes, "You need an ABN to register for GST, as the ABN is part of the GST system." :)

Sorry I do not have any sea freight broker to recommend, but I did a bit of research to help you for options - http://www.lloydslistdcn.com.au/australian_shipping_air_road_rail_services_directory/import-export/customs-brokers-and-freight-forwarders

These information will also be useful - http://www.customs.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/AlcoholandTobaccoFactSheet.pdf
http://www.customs.gov.au/site/page5653.asp

Cheers! Reply
Free Member
Hello Irene , I would like to import some grocery food from Myanmar to Australia . What I need to do ? Reply
Site Admin
Hello Pawlagay,

Please refer to http://www.daff.gov.au/biosecurity/import/food

Cheers! :) Reply
Hi Irene, Thanks for such a great website with so much information. Coming straight to my query; I want to open a retail store to sell Inidan products like Cosmetics, Handbags and footwear in Melbourne, Aus. I do not have any idea on how to start exporting stuff from India. Is there any difference in exporting from India or buying from Indian wholesalers or taking export company help? I am completely new to this line. Could you please direct me any website where I can get enough information on how to open a small level retail store selling Inidan products and exporting from India.
Thanks for your time!

Regards,
Rhea Reply
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