Lesson 4

Importing to Australia and NZ

Are you planning on importing to Australia? Before you commit, make sure you check out our quick guide to get an essential overview of what is involved. 


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. Click here for information on prohibited or restricted goods.

Goods Classification

The first thing you need to do is classify your goods correctly so that the appropriate duties and tariffs (if any) apply.

Not sure how to classify your goods?

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 tarif 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.

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 a Customs Information Centre

Where do I go for help?

Contact the Customs Information and Support Centre on 1300 363 263 or send an email to information@customs.gov.au

Importing to New Zealand


What am I responsible for?

You are responsible for:

  • Making an accurate and correct entry
  • 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:

  • 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 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 CusWeb. 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 at www.cbaff.org.nz

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.


GST (Goods and Services tax) of 12.5% 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:


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