Importing goods can help your business meet its goals and provide goods to customers that may not be available locally.

To ensure your importing is successful, you'll need to be aware of government regulations, including clearance by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Services (Customs) and duty taxes.

Licensing and permits

Whilst there is no general licence required for importing, Customs will need to clear your goods on import. You'll need to know:

  • what import permits, quarantine permits and treatments apply to your specific category and type of imported goods

  • and whether they are subject to mandatory safety or information standards.

If you don't follow the correct steps and regulations, you will risk breaking the law and not receiving your imports.

Customs requirements for imports

All goods imported into Australia must be cleared by Customs . Customs can provide you information on duties and import regulations , such as import clearance requirements, prohibited goods and import permits.

Depending on the type and value of the goods or products you import, there may be costs involved. These can include clearance fees, customs duty, Goods and Services Tax (GST) and other taxes.

Some goods may carry special restrictions or may even be prohibited from being imported . If your goods contain industrial chemicals like cosmetics, solvents, adhesives, plastics, inks, printing and photocopying chemicals, paints, household cleaning products and toiletries, they will require additional registration.

If your goods also fall under quarantine regulations, the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) will need to inspect and possibly treat them.

If you're considering importing goods because you can't find a local supplier, search the Industry Capability Network to see if there is a supplier in Australia.

Labelling requirements for importers

When importing, you may need to label your imported goods in a certain way. This is in addition to the general labelling regulations set out by the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA). There are two specific requirements for imported goods that you should consider:

Commerce (Trade Descriptions)

The Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act 1905 states that some goods can't be imported unless they are correctly labelled with the required trade description. To find out whether the goods you're importing need a trade description and the guidelines around them,

Country of origin labelling

The CCA prohibits you from making false or misleading claims about the place of origin of goods. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) country of origin webpage tells you how to use country of origin labelling and the regulations governing the 'Australian Made' logo.

Prohibited & restricted goods

When importing, it's important to find out if the goods you'd like to import are prohibited or restricted goods. You can find this information out through the Prohibited and restricted imports page on the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (Customs) website.

The Customs Information Centre (CIC) can provide you with general information about Customs procedures for prohibited and restricted goods.

If the goods are prohibited, try and find a local alternative by searching the Industry Capability Network .

If the goods are restricted, find out about the restrictions and what you need to do in order to import them. You may need to get a permit and pay a fee .

Importing Chemicals

If you import or manufacture industrial chemicals for commercial purposes, you must register with the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS).

Registration involves an annual registration fee.

For restrictions and prohibitions on importing chemicals and chemical products, take a look at the Chemicals Business Checklist on the Department of Industry and Science website.

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