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Helpful Information

Container sizes

Please use the following table to check the most frequently used container sizes.  Should you require specialised container equipment or if you have any further questions please contact us.

20' GP Container Dimensions 

Inside Dimensions: Length  5885mm

                               Width    2350mm

                               Height   2403mm

Capacity                              33,150cbm

40' GP Container Dimensions 

Inside Dimensions: Length  12033mm

                               Width    2350mm

                               Height   2394mm

Capacity                              67,7cbm

40' HC Container Dimensions 

Inside Dimensions: Length  12024mm

                               Width    2350mm

                               Height   2697mm

Capacity                              76,3cbm

Container Detention

What is container detention & how much does it cost ?

Import & Export shipping containers are used to move the Import & Export cargo's on the container ships. The containers are essential to the efficient cargo flow of all Import & Export cargo movements.

When the supplies of shipping containers are delayed or are running low due to the late return of the import containers, it in fact slows down the entire supply chain of international cargo.

As a rule of thumb the shipping lines usually allow 10 days from when the containers are first made availble for delivery. Late container returns create extra expense on the international transport community by the inefficient few.

The example to best explain container detention, imagine a Library, you want to borrow a book to complete a very important project , the book has not been returned by previous borrower on time, it is late and therefore you cannot complete your project. How do you feel?

To alleviate the late return of containers Freight Forwarders & Shipping companies apply a late return Detention Charge for the late return of containers, we at Mac Customs have endeavored to keep our late container return costs to a minimal level.

Please find listed our

  • Import Container detention tariff

  • Export Container detention tariff

These rates apply to any late Container returns.


What Customs Duties and Goods & Services Taxes are payable on imported cargo?

Most imported goods are subject to Australian Customs duties & a 10% good & service tax. There are many different and sometimes complex duty rates applicable to cargo. For this reason we recommend you speak to one of our Mac Customs consultants in person or contact a qualified licensed customs broker.

Should I use a Customs Broker?

We recommend the use of a qualified Customs clearance broker as they are familiar with the sometimes complex duty rates and or restrictions applicable to imported cargo.

Our Mac Customs brokers evaluate over 13,000 tariffs and 4,000 concessions to provide a professional customs clearance service that reduces your Duty & GST payable to the full extent of the law.

Are Mac Customs licenced Customs Brokers?

Mac Customs is currently licensed by the Australian Customs Service as an Australian
Customs Broker.

Duty Tariff Concession System for Importers

Customs manages a range of programs to support local industry. One of those, the Tariff Concession System, may affect you if you are an Australian importer or local manufacturer.

How does the Tariff Concession System work?

Under this System, a Tariff Concession Order (TCO) will be granted on imported goods if substitutable goods were not produced in Australia at the time the TCO application was lodged. Substitutable goods are Australian made goods which have a use corresponding to a use of the imported goods.

Tariff Concessions can be granted to allow:

The duty-free entry of goods that are identified as consumption goods under criteria used for balance of payments statistics;

It is important to note that in determining whether substitutable goods are available, the assessment does not consider whether the Australian goods compete with the imported goods in any market. Certain classes of goods such as foodstuffs, clothing and passenger motor vehicles are on the Excluded Goods Schedule and are not eligible for a TCO.

How do I apply for a TCO?

If you are applying for a TCO for imported goods, you must lodge an application on the approved form, and complete all information required on the form. This is important as failure to meet all the requirements outlined in the form may result in delays or even rejection of the application. The form is available from Customs offices.

How quickly will my application for a TCO be processed?

Customs must screen the application to ensure that it is valid and, if acceptable, arrange within 28 days of receipt for details to be publicly notified in the Commonwealth of Australia Tariff Concessions Gazette.

Customs is then required to make decisions on each application within 150 days from the date of gazettal. Because of this strict time frame, it is important that you provide all information on time as late replies cannot be considered in the final decision.

When will my TCO come into effect?

When a TCO is granted, it comes into effect on the date the application was first received by Customs. This means that all goods covered by the TCO and entered for home consumption on or after that date will be eligible for the concession.

All goods covered by the TCO description, not only the applicant's goods, are eligible.

Who can object to an application?

All applications for TCOs are published in the Tariff Concessions Gazette. If you are a local manufacturer, you may object to the granting of a TCO within 50 days of the date of the Gazette that published details of the TCO. Objections must be lodged on an approved form which is available from Customs offices. The form has detailed instructions to help you complete it.

Deferral of GST


The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) operates a scheme that provides for the deferral of GST on imported goods. The Deferred GST Scheme covers GST only; it does not impact upon Customs duty, which must still be paid at the time of importation.

Scope of the scheme

Deferral of GST on imported goods extends to all importations that are entered for home consumption, either at the time of importation (Customs Nature 10 entries) or from a Licensed Customs Warehouse (Customs Nature 30 entries). The scheme also covers Post Warrant Amendment entries where additional GST is payable (eg Nature 11 and 31 entries). Goods in the following categories are excluded from the scheme:

  • Goods imported under the TRADEX scheme that are diverted into home consumption;

  • Low value imports cleared on informal clearance documents

  • Goods imported temporarily under Customs Act s162 or s162A.

Admission to the scheme

Owners must be registered for GST and must apply to the ATO for approval to participate in the Deferred GST Scheme. Owners not admitted to the scheme will be required to pay GST and duty at the time the goods are entered for home consumption or otherwise dealt with under the Customs Act 1901.

Owners must lodge Business Activity Statements monthly

Owners may apply to participate in the Deferred GST Scheme if they elect to or are required to lodge their Business Activity Statements (BAS) monthly.

Owners must deal with the ATO and Customs electronically

Owners may apply to participate in the Deferred GST Scheme if they lodge their BAS via the Internet-based, e-commerce system operated by the ATO. Owners can deal electronically with Customs either directly, or through a licensed Customs Broker.

The Customs computer system does not permit deferral on entries that are lodged manually. Payments of GST on Informal Clearance Documents and debit notes cannot be deferred. It is a condition of the GST deferral scheme that owners must deal with Customs electronically. This condition is contained in regulation 33-15.06 of A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Regulations 1999 and it is also stated in Australian Customs Notice 2000/14. Owners must either use the services of a licensed Customs brokers or arrange to connect to Customs computer system. To make arrangements for the connection you are advised to contact the Customs Systems Support Centre on 1300 558 099.

Owners must have a good compliance record

As a general principle, owners wishing to participate in the Deferred GST Scheme must not have any debt or returns outstanding with the ATO.

Disqualification from the scheme

Owners may be removed from the Deferred GST Scheme if they:

  • fail to lodge their Business Activity Statements by the due date;

  • fail to pay their ATO obligations by the due date; or

  • are subject to administrative penalties under any Act administered by the Commissioner; or

  • no longer meet the eligibility criteria on an ongoing basis.

Readmission to the scheme

Owners who have been removed from the deferral system may be readmitted if:

  • they satisfy the rules for admission to the deferral system; and

  • they obtain a bank guarantee in respect of any future liability for GST on imported goods.

How does the scheme operate?

  • When goods are entered for home consumption, ("home consumption" means that the goods enter into the commerce of Australia) the owner is required to quote their Australian Business Number (ABN) to Customs. If the owner has been approved to defer payment of GST, the imported goods can be released after payment of any customs duty or other charges. Customs records the GST liability of each shipment as it is finalised.

  • At the end of the month Customs advises the ATO of the aggregated liability for each owner.

  • The ATO includes on the next BAS the total amount of GST that was deferred during the previous month. The ATO then issues the BAS to the owner via the Internet.

  • The BAS is due to be lodged and paid by the 21st day following the month in which the GST was deferred. [If all the importations for the period are creditable importations, an input tax credit can be claimed in the BAS, which will effectively offset the deferred GST liability.]

How can I apply?

An application form for approval to defer GST on imported goods is available on the Australian Taxation Office website. Owners can apply to participate on-line at


How does Customs' computer system handle the deferral of GST?

If an entity has an ABN approved for deferral, the COMPILE system defers ALL GST payable on an entry automatically. The Customs computer system calculates the amount of GST to be deferred and this appears on the marks screen of the entry and the entry print.

You are not able to elect to defer GST on specific entries. If you are approved to defer, then GST is deferred on all lines for every entry. Customs Duty is not deferred; it is payable prior to the goods being delivered into home consumption.

The total amount of GST that has been deferred for an ABN is aggregated by Customs and passed to the ATO at the end of each month.

Which entries are captured in the deferred GST amount passed to the ATO at the end of each month?

Customs informs the ATO about all amounts of GST deferred on:

  • Entries for home consumption (ie. Natures 10 and 30) that were finalised* during the month.

  • Post warrant amendment entries (these correct errors on earlier entries for home consumption) that were finalised* during the month (provided that GST was deferred on the original entry).

Please note that, where a post warrant amendment entry reduces the amount of GST deferred, this deferral reduction will be reflected in your Business Activity Statement only if the PWA amends an entry that was finalised* in that same month.

* Entries are finalised when customs releases the goods. Note that this may be different from the date that funds were debited against the owner’s bank account for duty and/or other charges.

Do I have to be connected to Customs Electronic Funds Transfer system to participate in the Deferred GST Scheme?

No. As long as goods are entered for home consumption using Customs Computer system you can participate in the Deferred GST Scheme. Many owners are connected to the Customs EFT system to make importing a more seamless process. (In fact, 97% of electronic entries are paid using the Customs EFT facility). However, if goods are entered electronically and paid for using cash or cheque, then deferral is allowed.

Are Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) and Luxury Car Tax (LCT) included in the Deferred GST Scheme?

No, WET and LCT are not included in the Deferred GST Scheme; it only applies to GST.

Owners can quote for WET or LCT at the time of importation if they are registered for GST and meet the grounds for quoting.

How does GST deferral work for companies that have a branch/division structure with the branches electing to complete individual BAS's?

Each branch has an ABN and GST branch number. Each importing branch that wants to be on the Deferred GST Scheme must apply for GST deferral and be approved for GST deferral individually. The importing branch then uses its ABN plus GST branch number on the Customs entry.

How does GST deferral work for GST Groups?

It is not necessary for all members of a Group to apply for admission to the deferral scheme. If a Group member wishes to defer they must apply to defer and the Group representative must also apply. In others words, if a member is in the Deferred GST Scheme then the Group representative must also be in.

If another Group member does not want to defer, they pay GST at point of entry. The Group representative can claim an input tax credit for the GST paid at importation.

Once admitted to the Deferred GST Scheme, each Group member should use its own ABN on each customs entry. At the end of the month, Customs advises the ATO of the amount of GST deferred by each member of the Group. The ATO consolidates all of these amounts into one amount and inserts it as a liability on the Business Activity Statement for the representative member. This liability may be offset against the input tax credits available to the Group members for any creditable importations (or creditable acquisitions) they have made.

How can an importer obtain transaction details to reconcile with the aggregate figure included on their BAS by the ATO?

Owners requiring this information may apply by phone, letter, fax or e-mail to Mac Customs if we have cleared your cargo through Australian Customs, we don't charge a fee for this service if you are a regular Customer & we can email or fax you the required report.

Or you Can apply to Australian Customs as per below:

Customs Manager
Commercial Support Applications
Australian Customs Service
5 Constitution Avenue

Phone: 02 6275 6640
FAX: 02 6275 5893

Requests should contain owner's ABN and the period the data is requested for. A billing address and contact details should also be provided. For data extractions by parties other than the owner, the request should include a letter of authority from the owner on whose behalf the request has been made.

What information is available?

Entry No., Owner Name, Owner Code, Date Entry Created, Date Entry Finalised, Supplier Name, Supplier Code, Agent Ref, Owners Ref, Customs Total Value Amt, Total Duty Amt, Total Deferred GST Amt and Total Amount Paid.

Is there a fee?

$66.00 (includes GST) for those requests with output fields as listed in the previous question and forwarded on by disk or e-mail. Requests with variations will be processed as per ACN 94/03.

Cheque payments (made out to the Australian Customs Service) may be taken to the Collector of Public Monies, at a Customs House in your state (if payment is made by this method, a copy of the receipt may be forwarded to this office with the data extraction request). Alternatively a cheque can be forwarded direct to this office with the data extraction request or an account will be forwarded to the billing address provided.

How long does it take?

The majority of data requests are currently being processed within 14 days. This turnaround time will be maintained.


Q. What documents do I need?

The shipping documents needed for importing or exporting transactions usually depend on the type of goods. In many cases, the required documentation will also vary depending on the country of origin or destination. Thus, documents may have to be prepared in a particular way to comply with the requirements of the letter of credit.

As a rule of thumb, a standard importing or exporting transaction usually requires a commercial invoice, packing list, Bill of Lading and an insurance certificate - depending on your Incoterms. We recommend you contact one of our Mac Customs forwarding agents for further informatio

Exporting Wine

What requirements are needed when exporting wine?

Under Australian Wine & Brandy Corporation Regulations, all wine shipments of 100 litres or more require export approval regardless of the number of consignees to which the shipment is addressed. The Corporation only approves wine for export from Australia. It does not have the power to approve wine for import into the receiving country.

For requirements in receiving countries see the Export Market Guide. The AWBC can provide some import certification required by importing countries.


For wine product to be exported:

Some additional conditions apply for bulk wine exports.

AWBC Regulations allow for an application to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for the review of a refusal by the AWBC to grant, revoke, suspend or cancel an export licence or issue an export certificate.



GST for Imports to Australia from China, India, South East Asia, Europe, USA, Canada or Russia

Please note some of the terms used in this article:

When we say you, we are referring to you as a GST-registered business or organisation. GST credit pertains to the GST term input tax credit. If you would like further information regarding GST, please feel free to call 1300 130 915, or visit

How do you pay GST on imports?

The Australian Customs Service (Customs) collects GST on taxable goods imported into Australia. This GST is 10% of the total value of the imported goods. The complete value of the product is the sum of:

  • Customs value of the goods

  • Customs Duty amounts

  • Transport amount (paid or payable) to the port, airport or final destination of the goods within Australia

  • Insurance costs of transport

  • Wine equalisation tax payable

When do you pay GST on imports?

In most cases, GST is payable before the goods are released by Customs. As an importer, you are still able to pay in the exact same manner as you would pay customs duty (in the case your products are subjected to customs duty).

Can you defer the payment of GST on imported goods?

Yes, it is possible to defer GST. If you are an importer and are registered for GST, you may be eligible to defer the payment by taking part in the deferred GST scheme. The scheme gives you the ability to defer the payment of GST on taxable importations up until the first activity statement you lodge after the goods are imported. This scheme requires that you meet certain eligibility criteria before you are able to participate and defer GST on taxable imports.

If you would like to find out more regarding GST on imports and the deferring scheme, phone 1300 130 915 or visit Easy steps to the Deferred GST scheme. Please read (NAT 9558) and read all steps prior to submitting your application.

Are all importations taxable? There some foreign goods which may not be subject to GST when imported. These are:

  • Any goods that would have been GST-free or input taxed if supplied within Australia. This might include some basic foods, certain medical aids and appliances, cars for use by certain people with disabilities, and precious metals.

  • Any goods that qualify for certain customs duty concessions and are also non-taxable for GST include the following items from Schedule 4 to the Customs Tariff Act 1995:

    • Item 15 – goods imported by overseas travellers (provided the goods imported by travellers are not in excess of the duty free allowance)

    • Items 17 and 17A – goods returned to Australia in an unaltered condition (conditions apply)

    • Items 18A and 18B – goods returned after repair or replacement under warranty

    • Item 18C – global product safety recall goods

    • Item 21 – goods imported for repair, alteration or industrial processing, then exported

    • Items 23A and 23B – certain bequeathed goods

    • Items 25A, 25B, 25c – trophies, medals, etc (won or awarded), and

    • Items 32A and 32B – 'low-value goods' or goods on which customs duty and taxes is $50 or less and which have a customs value of less than $1,000.

How do you claim GST credits?

If you have not applied to defer, you are required by law to pay GST when importing foreign goods. If you are registered for GST, you will be able to claim GST credits on any imported goods in the activity statement you lodge for the tax period in which you pay the GST on the particular item(s).


Joe's Fishing Supplies (JFS) is a fishing supply wholesaler. The business is regesitered for GST in imported goods. JFS imported new fishing rods on 8th March.

  • The customs values of the imported fishing rods is $17,000. The customs duty that is applied to the goods is $1,200. The transport and subsequent insurance costs are $3,500.

  • The total  value of the importation of the fishing rods is $21,700.

10% GST is added onto the total value. This amount is $2,170 (10% x $21,700).

On 19th March, JFS sells the imported fishing rods to a local retailer for $29,000. A 10% GST charge of $2,900 is added to this amount. Therefore, the resulting GST-inclusive value ofthe imported fishing rods is now a total of $31,900.

JFS offsets the $2,170 GST that was paid when the fishing rods were initally imported into Australia against the $2,900 GST payable to the retailer. As a result, JFS pays a total $730 to the Australian Tax Office ($2,900 - $2,170).

The retailer that purchased the imported fishing rods from JFS sells them to the general public on 24th March. This retailer offsets the $2,900 that was included in the price paid for the goods against the GST that will be paid to the ATO when the goods are sold.

Do you need evidence of importation?

Before you are eligible to claim GST credit, you are required to present legal documentation outlining that the foreign goods have been imported for home consumption (that is, GST has either been paid or deferred). Goods are entered for home consumption when Customs releases them for use in Australia.

If you have been the cause of the goods entering Australia for your own purposes, and you have completed the necessary customs formalities, then you are legally considered the importer of the foreign goods.

If you employ the use of an intermediary (for example, a licensed Brisbane customs broker), they will be able to provide you with the documents from Customs. They may also arrange to keep the documents on your behalf and provide them when needed.

You must not claim a GST credit if you do not hold relevant documentation, or have ready access to that documentation.

What evidence is acceptable?

Apart from goods being transferred from one ship or aircraft to another that is engaged in international travel (transhipped), goods are either:

  • Initially entered for home consumption, or

  • GST is payable when the goods are entered for home consumption.

Below are some examples of the acceptable documentation that is required to show that the goods have been imported and entered Australia for home consumption.

Participating in the deferred GST scheme

It is required by customs to present an import declaration for any goods intended to enter into Australia for home consumption. The two specific declarations that may be used for this purpose and they are both relevant for GST credits:

  • Import Declaration: N10
    This document provides details of values and charges for the imported goods that are initially entered for home consumption, and includes details of deferred GST and total payable amount.

  • Import Declaration (out of warehouse): N30
    This document provides details of values and charges for the imported goods that are entered for home consumption when they are cleared out of a customs licensed warehouse. This document also includes details of deferred GST and total payable amount.

If you are an importer, you are required to keep the relevant import declaration. The status of the declaration must be ‘Finalised’. You must also keep the related matching official receipt from Customs, as this document will provide details concerning the total amount paid for the imported goods.

For non-deferred imports

Customs provides an official receipt for payments received, including details of total payable GST.

  • Initially entered for warehousing and entered for home consumption when they are cleared out of the Customs licensed warehouse.

More information

For further information on GST payments on imported goods refer to:

If you need more information about deferring GST payments on imported goods, you can:

  • GSTR 2003/15 Goods and services tax: importation of goods into Australia.

  • visit the ATO website at

  • phone 13 28 66

  • phone Customs on 1300 363 263

  • phone the dedicated tax practitioner line on 13 72 86, or

  • If you do not speak English well and want to talk to a tax officer, phone the Translating and Interpreting Service on 13 14 50 for help with your call. If you are calling from overseas, phone +61 3 9203 4027.

  • If you have a hearing or speech impairment and use a TTY or modem, phone the National Relay Service on 13 36 77. For 1800 toll-free numbers, phone 1800 555 677 and quote the number you need. If you are calling from overseas, phone +61 7 3815 7799.

  • If you have a speech impairment and do not use a TTY or modem, phone the Speech to Speech Relay Service on 1300 555 727. For 1800 toll-free numbers, phone 1800 555 677 and quote the number you need. If you are calling from overseas, phone +61 7 3815 8000.

  • Write to ATO at PO Box 9935 in your capital city. (NAT 3014)

How to Import

What are the Basic steps to Importing?

Importing is often thought to be easier than exporting and perhaps in some ways it is, but there are many traps for the unwary and inexperienced.

It is important that you understand the basic steps:

  • BEFORE thinking about placing an order on your overseas supplier, remember that you don't have to be an expert in all facets of importing. Professional advice is available from your Customs Broker or Forwarding Agent or the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

  • A useful way of gaining an insight into the processes involved in importing is to attend the International Trade (Import/Export) Course put on periodically by the College of International Business.

Why Import?

There are numerous reasons for importing goods. Perhaps you need to import a piece of capital machinery to be used in your company's operations, or perhaps the imported goods are components or inputs to be used in a manufacturing process.

The most common reason is to import for resale (and this is the side of importing we will concentrate on). Whatever the reason, it is important that you accurately determine the landed cost, i.e. the cost of the goods delivered to your warehouse, before you place an order.

The list price of a product in Taiwan or Argentina for example may seem unbelievably cheap, but with on-costs (e.g. freight, insurance, import duty,Gst tax, bank charges, interest, etc.) the product might not be competitive on the Australian market, even before allowing for your profit margin.

It is important that you do your homework first. Having a firm idea that there is a real potential market in Australia for the type of products you wish to import

We have listed the basic steps for importing are as follows:

Obtain a catalogue and/or sample plus prices from:

The supplier
The initial contact with a product may come through personal experience on an overseas trip or by contact with a supplier at a trade fair on a trade mission.

Other sources
Other sources of assistance include foreign consulates, overseas Chambers of Commerce, banks, shipping agents etc. See appendix for contact details.

Before proceeding with an order it may be prudent to obtain Bank or Commercial references as to the integrity and 'bona fides' of the supplier.

Overseas quotations

Having obtained what appears to be a satisfactory source of supply the next step is to get a firm quotation.
Remember to enquire about quantity discounts. Some suppliers may also help to provide assistance with initial marketing expenses, particularly if a new market is being penetrated.

The price should be based on, and include a reference to, Incoterms (ICC publication - available ) e.g. US$100 FOB Hong Kong 1990 Incoterms or A$500 CIF Melbourne 1990 Incoterms.

A reference to Incoterms in the contract price reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings between you and the supplier in transporting the goods to Australia. You should familiarise yourself with the technicalities of Incoterms.

If you require a CIF price, make sure you also ask the supplier to provide you with the FOB price, which will be needed to determine import duties & Gst tax that is payable. By having both prices you can compare the freight/insurance rates you are able to obtain against those of the supplier.

The price should be quoted in Australian Dollars or another major currency. Exchange risks are eliminated if Australian Dollar quotes are used.

Apply to your Customs broker

Apply to your customs broker for a classification opinion, import duty rates, sales tax rates, import restrictions and tariff concessions (if any) and quarantine requirement (if any): imported food will probably require Australian Quarantine certification, wooden items may require fumigation certificates.

Note that import quotas no longer apply when importing goods into Australia. See appendix for list of customs brokers.
Obtain freight and insurance rates

Obtain a freight rate from a freight forwarder, shipping company or airline. Obtain an insurance rate from a marine cargo insurance company; your freight forwarder may also be able to arrange this for you.

If you have been quoted a CIF or CIP price compare the insurance/freight components with those you have obtained. Remember also, that it may be easier to execute a claim with you marine insurer than with the Australian agent of exporter's marine insurer.


See the international division of your bank to discuss financial considerations, e.g. how will you finance the transaction and what will it cost to finance? What method of payment is to be used? This may be negotiable with the supplier. Whichever method is to be used, what will be the bank charges?

Prepare a cost analysis

Make sure you include all cost elements i.e. all freight costs into your warehouse, insurance, interest and bank charges, customs clearance charges, import duties, sales tax and your profit.
Your customs broker will undertake this exercise for you if you wish.

  • Ensure you have logistics in place to follow up an order

  • Is the infrastructure in place to follow up an order?

  • Where will the product be warehoused?

  • What inventory control mechanisms do you have in place?

  • How and who will distribute the product?

  • What marketing channels/promotion outlets will you use?

  • How will you give after-sales service and back up to the product?

  • What quality control procedures are in place?

  • Do you have the necessary personnel?

  • Is it commercially viable? - Analyse your target market

  • Where is your market going to be - local or national?

  • Who are your customers?

  • What is your competition?

  • What market share do you expect?

  • What is the growth potential in your sector of the market?

  • What profit margin do you expect in the short/long term?

  • Have you considered a trial order to test your product on the market?

  • Many of the principles of research applied in analysing an export market apply just as well to the local market The Australian Bureau of Statistics may be able to provide import and consumption statistics for categories of product.

  • Publications such as the Grocery Industries Marketing Guide provide sales and market share statistics. However the most valuable feedback will come from potential customers when shown the product.

  • Place an order with the supplier

  • Place an order with the supplier and request written confirmation of the receipt and acceptance of your order.

  • Your order could be placed in one of several ways - on a printed purchase order form, which could be faxed or mailed, or by letter, email or facsimile.

Ensure that the terms and conditions of the resultant contract of sale are fully understood by both parties i.e.:

  • The product/goods

  • Quality/specifications

  • Packaging/packing

  • Price and price basis

  • Payment terms

  • Shipping

  • Special requirements

  • Documentation

All orders should be typed and include full cost, quantity and shipping procedure details. It is advisable to set up a structured order form as is required under letters of credit, whatever the method of payment.


As well as quality control from a marketing and retention of customer’s point of view, the importer should be aware of the various State and Federal Consumer standard regulations. The importer should also be aware that, whilst a letter of credit ensures that the exporter has supplied the required documentation, the quality of the goods is not guaranteed.

One way to ensure that the goods are as stated and meet specifications is to make it a condition of the LC or of payment that the goods are inspected prior to shipment by an independent inspection agency. These agents may even inspect the production of goods at the exporters factory, if required. It should be noted however, that each inspection involves a cost, which usually has to be borne by the importer (a list of inspection agents operating in Victoria can be found in the appendix, agents from the major companies such as Bureau Veritas and S.G.S. operate in most countries).

Another way of testing the quality and delivery of goods is to place a small trial order with the exporter.


Packaging is an important aspect in the promotion of a product. Not only must this be attractive to the Australian consumer but must comply with Government regulations. For example, most products must display, in English, the country of origin.

For information on packaging regulations and country of origin labelling contact the Trade Measurements Branch of the State Development Department (Tel: (03) 9651 9876) & the Australian Customs Service refer to our link section
If you are importing a product investigate whether it is appropriate that you obtain an Australian Product Number code (barcode) so that the product can be scanned at checkouts.

Price and price basis

Include reference to Incoterms 1990, i.e. unit price, total price and unit of currency. If the shipment is to be paid for in foreign currency are you going to hedge against currency fluctuations? If you don't the shipment may cost more, in Australian Dollar terms, than you originally anticipated.

Payment terms

Is payment to be against a letter of credit established by the importer or a documentary collection or some other method? What is the method of payment? i.e. a term or sight bill of exchange or a telegraphic transfer.


The method of shipment, air or sea, will depend on a number of factors, namely cost, type of produce and speed of delivery required.

Special Requirements

For example, fumigation requirements, time constraints.


Documents that should be received by the importer's bank (under LC or collection) or by the importer (under open account) prior to the arrival of goods include:

Order confirmation, Shipping Advice, Commercial Invoice, Customs Invoice, Packing Slip ,Insurance Policy, Contract and legal considerations

Selling goods internationally is governed by an international convention -The Sale of Goods (Vienna Convention) Act (1989). Copies of this act are available from State and Federal printing offices.

The Convention applies to international sales contracts where both parties' governments are signatories. However, the two parties in the sales contract can mutually agree to ignore or vary any of the convention's provisions.

The rules of the Convention differ little from those applying to contracts made up under Australian commercial law. They offer some protection to the buyer regarding the quality of the goods. Under the convention the seller is obliged to provide the goods which: are fit for the purpose that the buyer specified

Possess the same quality of the goods that the seller has held out as a sample to the buyer are packed in a manner sufficient to preserve and protect the goods.If the contract is drawn up using both the provisions of the Convention and Incoterms 1990 then disputes between the parties should be minimal

Advise your Customs Broker of shipping details

Advice your customs broker of the shipping details as given by your supplier (unless you intend to clear the goods yourself). Do this as soon as you receive the details to avoid delays in clearing the goods.
In countries such as China, where the banks are responsible for processing documentation, the customs broker may not receive notification of the shipment until after the goods arrive.
Your bank will advise when the shipping have arrived
Ensure the documents are in order before you accept them.

When goods arrive

When the goods arrive ensure that your customs broker is in the process of clearing them through customs and quarantine. To clear the goods your broker (or yourself if you intend clearing the goods) will need the bill of lading/air waybill, commercial invoice and any other relevant documents.
Take delivery and examine consignment immediately for Insurance
Give a clean receipt for the goods only when satisfied as to their quality, quantity and condition.


Q. Why should I insure my cargo?

We take every care to ensure the safe handling and transportation of your consignment. However, we recommend insurance because there is always a risk of unforeseen circumstances damaging your goods (e.g. fire or theft). Our question to you is, "Can you afford not to insure your consignment?"

It is the responsibility of overseas importers to insure consignments when the shipment is on a Free On Board (FOB) or Cost and Freight (CFR) basis. It is the exporters obligation to arrange insurance in CIF/CIP contracts. Banks providing documentary credit will usually want insurance on at least the CFR value of the goods.

Importing Machinery into Australia

Australia has in place very strict quarantine measures concerning the importation of machinery with particular regard to used machinery.

A permit may be required to import used machinery and an inspection for quarantine risk material by an AQIS officer prior to release is mandatory.

It is a condition of import that the used machinery arrives in a clean state. If the machinery has not been cleaned to the required standards AQIS have the power to order additional cleaning at an approved premises or if the machinery arrives in a highly contaminated state (large amounts of soil and organic matter detected on the machinery), to order the re-export from Australia of the contaminated machinery. Both are done at the expense of the importer.

The final decision on acceptable cleanliness of the machinery is at the discretion of the inspecting AQIS officer and they will give the direction for release from quarantine, order additional cleaning or refuse entry and order re-exportation.

AQIS defines ‘clean’ as free of quarantine risk material and has a zero tolerance policy for any contamination from soil or plant material. It is the importer's responsibility to ensure the machinery arrives in a clean condition and the requirements of any applicable import permit are strictly adhered to.

Exact information to assist in the importation of machinery into Australia is available on the AQIS web site

Importing Motor Vehicles

Any person may import a motor vehicle or a motorcycle into Australia.

If you plan to drive the vehicle on Australia's roads it is essential that you contact the vehicle standard Branch before importing the vehicle to ensure that the vehicle can meet the safety requirements and to obtain a permission to import the vehicle. To apply for a" Motor Vehicle Import Approval just click the following link

Customs Duty, GST and Luxury Car Tax (LCT)

The Customs Duty is payable on the Customs Value (value at the place of export, as defined in the Customs Act) of the vehicle at a rate of 5% for cars and 5% for 4WDs (as defined in the relevant Act) and GST is paid on the Value of Taxable Importation (as defined in the Act). This value is the customs value + freight and insurance + customs duty.

Luxury Car Tax, which is payable in addition to Customs Duty and GST. Where the Value of Taxable Importation exceeds the "Luxury" threshold, Luxury Car Tax at the rate of 33% is paid on the amount by which the value exceeds the threshold. The threshold value of Value of Taxable Importation is $ 57,180 current as at 2009/2010.

We suggest that you view the Australian Customs Service Page on as it is the official source of information. The "Guide to the Importation of Privately Owned Motor Vehicles or Motor Cycles", which is downloadable from that Web Page, is particularly useful, as they give an example of the valuation calculations.

All privately imported vehicles are subject to the same rates of Customs duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) and, where applicable, Luxury Car Tax (LCT) as commercially imported vehicles. The Customs duty is based on the Customs value of the vehicle.

The rate of Customs duty payable is that which applies to the particular type of vehicle on the date it is entered for Customs purposes in Australia. GST and, where applicable, LCT applies at the date you import the vehicle into Australia. Without a permission to import, which can be obtained from the Vehicle standards safety Branch a special duty of $12,000 may apply.

As Customs duty varies according to vehicle design and value, and is subject to change, you should contact a Customs office before importing any vehicle into Australia.

Prior to making a decision to import your vehicle you should take into account the costs involved in the process such as: freight, Customs duties and entry processing charges, steam cleaning for quarantine purposes, other wharf and transport charges and any costs involved in having the vehicle meet state or territory registration requirements (whether your vehicle will indeed meet these requirements should be checked prior to importation).

Valuing your vehicle for Customs purposes

The Customs value of imported private motor vehicles and motor cycles (whether new or used) is assessed in the following way:

The Transaction Value Method

The Customs value of new or second hand privately imported motor vehicles or motor cycles will ordinarily be calculated using the "transaction value" method. Under this method the Customs value is based on the "price actually paid or payable" for the vehicle or cycle in a bona fide sale where the price is not influenced by any other factor.

This method will be used where the importer can show that the vehicle or cycle was purchased to be exported to Australia. The transaction value method will not be used where there is insufficient or unreliable information regarding the purchase.

In determining the Customs Value, certain adjustments may be made to the price paid by the importer to have the vehicle or cycle brought to Australia (eg. the deduction of overseas freight and insurance).

Alternate Methods of Valuation

When the "transaction value" method cannot be used to determine Customs Value, the alternate methods of valuation, as set out in Section 159 of the Customs Act will be applied in sequential order.

Where the Fall-Back alternate method is used, Customs will usually accept as the basis for determining the Customs Value, the landed cost of the vehicle or cycle in Australia as assessed by a person qualified in valuing such vehicles and cycles. Customs may then make certain deductions to determine the Customs Value of the vehicle or cycle.

The valuation procedures outlined above are applied by Customs to privately imported motor vehicles and motor cycles purchased by the importer on or after 2 March 1998. The previous set of valuation guidelines used for motor vehicles and motor cycles purchased by the importer prior to 2 March 1998 are contained in the 'Guide to the Importation of Privately Owned Motor Vehicles and Motor Cycles' included below.

Conversion to Australian currency

The Customs value of your vehicle is calculated in Australian dollars. Where it is necessary to convert any prices, costs, etc. from a foreign currency to Australian dollars, the conversion will be based on that rate of exchange in effect in Australia on the date of exportation of your vehicle to Australia.

Concessions for tourists and temporary residents

As a tourist or temporary resident, you may bring a motor vehicle or a motorcycle and attached trailer or a caravan to Australia for a period of up to 12 months (or longer under certain circumstances) without paying duty on them, provided they are subsequently exported from Australia.

For this concession to apply, you will need one of the following:

  • a Carnet De Passages en Douanes issued by an overseas organisation which has a reciprocal arrangement with the Australian Automobile Association, or

  • a cash or bank security, equal to the amount of duty and GST and, where applicable, LCT otherwise payable.

If your vehicle is stolen, damaged or destroyed whilst you are in Australia you should notify Customs as soon as possible at your original port of arrival.

All fittings and accessories imported with your motor vehicle, motorcycle, trailer or caravan must also be exported with that same vehicle.


To prevent the entry of diseases, noxious weeds and insect pests into Australia, inspect all vehicles on arrival and may require them to be properly cleaned. This is usually effected by steam cleaning. You should remove all soil and any other matter from your vehicle (including the underside) prior to exportation to Australia.

Vehicles manufactured in Australia

You may import an Australian manufactured motor vehicle or a motorcycle without paying Customs duty on it, providing you have owned and used the vehicle overseas and there are no outstanding Australian duties, taxes or charges owing on it.

However, you will be required to pay GST and, where applicable, LCT on the vehicle if no GST or applicable LCT was paid when the vehicle was originally exported from Australia.

Motor Vehicle Standards Act

The Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989, which is administered by the Vehicle Safety Standards Branch, came into effect on 1 August 1989. Under this legislation it is an offence to import any new or secondhand vehicle unless:

it meets the safety and emissions standards applying to vehicles to be used on Australian roads, or arrangements are in place to modify the vehicle to meet these requirements after its arrival in Australia.

Before importing any vehicle it is essential that you ensure it will be able to be delivered in Australia by contacting the Vehicle safety standards branch
They are the only body who can issue permits to import motor vehicles from overseas

Please note, the Department of Transport and Regional Services advises that the only exemption from the Import Approval requirement is for vehicles returning to Australia where the owner of the vehicle at the time of its return was also the owner at the time of its exportation.

Clearance formalities

You will be required to complete all the formalities to clear your motor vehicle through Customs at the port of importation. To avoid any delays, please have available documents such as passport, driver's licence, purchase and transportation documents, bills of sale, registration and insurance papers, service records and log books.

Vehicle registration

Customs has no control or authority over motor vehicle or motorcycle specifications or registration requirements in Australia.

Before bringing your vehicle to Australia, you should check with the motor registration Branch of the State or Territory where it is intended to be registered to ensure that it will meet their registration requirements.

Vehicles can be temporarily imported and legally driven on Australian roads for the period of carnet validity (or temporary importation period) provided registration is still current in the vehicle's country of origin.

Requirements At a Glance

Motor vehicles imported into Australia must comply with the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989; this is the same requirement for vehicles built in Australia.

The information listed here is a brief overview for importing a Motor Car or similar vehicle. For more specific information we suggest you e-mail us.

Will Your Car Be Allowed Into Australia?

When importing a used car there a number of important points to note.

  • The vehicle will not be cleared by the Australian Customs Service without approval of the Commonwealth Department of Transport and Regional Services (DoTRS).

  • Vehicles that are at least 15 years old do not have to meet the requirements of the Motor Vehicle Standards Act, but still need DoTRS approval.

  • To import a vehicle under 15 years old

    • You must have owned the vehicle for at least 12 continuous months immediately prior to it's arrival in Australia, and,

    • You must be of driving age and be an Australian citizen or a migrant with permanent residency, and,

    • The vehicle is fitted with an Australian compliance plate, OR a letter of compliance has been issued by the Australian importer, OR the vehicle will be modified to meet Australian Design Rules after arrival. 

    • There are a limited number of companies in Australia approved to make the necessary modifications and then affix a compliance plate. A written agreement with one of these companies must be in place prior to importation.

Quarantine Requirements

Used vehicles are subject to Quarantine inspection to ensure that they are free of material of animal or plant origin. Soil/dirt can contain all sorts of prohibited matter.

It is often cheaper and more convenient to have the car thoroughly cleaned before shipment than after arrival in Australia. Vacuuming of the inside, including the boot, washing the outside and steam cleaning underneath is recommended.

Customs Duty, GST and Luxury Car Tax (LCT)

Customs Duty is payable on the Customs Value (value at the place of export, as defined in the Customs Act) of the vehicle at a rate of 5% for cars and 5% for 4WDs (as defined in the relevant Act).

GST at the rate of 10% is paid on the Value of Taxable Importation (as defined in the Act). This value is the customs value + freight and insurance + customs duty.

Luxury Car Tax, which is payable in addition to Customs Duty and GST. Where the Value of Taxable Importation exceeds the "Luxury" threshold, Luxury Car Tax at the rate of 33% is paid on the amount by which the value exceeds the threshold. The threshold value of Value of Taxable Importation is $ 57,180 current as at 2009/2010.

Please contact us here to discuss your particular requirements.

This information is current as of January 2005 and is only intended as a guide. If you need more information or you are not sure of the requirements that apply to you, email You can also contact a Customs Information Centre on 1300 363 263 from anywhere in Australia or +61 2 6275 6666 from outside Australia.

Shipping Terms

What are Incoterms and why use them?

Incoterms, short for "International commercial terms" are an international set of guidelines for the interpretation of the most commonly used international trade terms. These terms are used to help eliminate the uncertainties in the different interpretations of such trade terms in language and different countries. 

If you are new to shipping contracts you may be unaware of the different trading practices in their respective countries. A small misunderstanding could lead to disputes over who was meant to pay for the overseas freight, insurance or other costs involved in the shipment of goods. 

To avoid confusion the International Chamber of Commerce published (1936) a set of international rules for standard trade terms known as Incoterms. Since 1936 regular amendments and updates (1953, 1967, 1976, 1980, 1990 and 2000) have been made to keep all practices and terms current.

The current version is Incoterms 2000 these terms are listed below.

EXW (Ex Works)
The buyer bears all costs and risks involved in taking the goods from the seller's premises to the desired destination. The seller's obligation is to make the goods available at his premises (works, factory, warehouse). This term represents minimum obligation for the seller. This term can be used across all modes of transport.

FCA (Free Carrier)
The seller's obligation is to hand over the goods, cleared for export, into the charge of the carrier named by the buyer at the named place or point. If no precise point is indicated by the buyer, the seller may choose within the place or range stipulated where the carrier shall take the goods into his charge. When the seller's assistance is required in making the contract with the carrier the seller may act at the buyers risk and expense. This term can be used across all modes of transport.

CPT (Carriage paid to.)
The seller pays the freight for the carriage of goods to the named destination. The risk of loss or damage to the goods occurring after the delivery has been made to the carrier is transferred from the seller to the buyer. This term requires the seller to clear the goods for export and can be used across all modes of transport.

CIP (Carriage and insurance paid to.)
The seller has the same obligations as under CPT but has the responsibility of obtaining insurance against the buyer's risk of loss or damage of goods during the carriage. The seller is required to clear the goods for export however is only required to obtain insurance on minimum coverage. This term requires the seller to clear the goods for export and can be used across all modes of transport.

DAF (Delivered at Frontier)
The seller has fulfilled his obligation when the goods have been made available, cleared for export, at the named point and place at the frontier, but before the customs border of the adjoining country. The term 'frontier' may be used for any frontier including that of the country of export. Therefore, it is important that the frontier in question be defined precisely by always naming the point and place in the term. The term is generally used when goods are to be carried by rail or road, but may be used for any mode of transport.

DDU (Delivered duty unpaid)
The seller is required to deliver the goods to the named place in the country of importation. The seller is responsible for costs and risks involved in bringing the goods to the import destination (excluding duties, taxes) and arranging customs formalities. This term may be used irrespective of the mode of transport.

DDP (Delivered duty paid)
Similar to DDU however in this case the seller is responsible for delivering the goods in the named place in the country of importation, all costs and risks in bringing the goods to import destination including duties, taxes and customs formalities. This term may be used irrespective of the mode of transport.

FAS (Free Alongside ship)
The seller has fulfilled his obligation when goods have been placed alongside the vessel at the port of shipment. The buyer is responsible for all costs and risks of loss or damage to the goods from that moment. The buyer is also required to clear the goods for export. This term should only be used for sea or inland waterway transport.

FOB (Free on Board)
Once the goods have passed over the ship's rail at the port of export the buyer is responsible for all costs and risks of loss or damage to the goods from that point. The seller is required to clear the goods for export. This term should only be used for sea or inland waterway transport.

CFR (Cost and Freight)
The seller must pay the costs and freight required in bringing the goods to the named port of destination. The risk of loss or damage is transferred from seller to buyer when the goods pass over the ship's rail in the port of shipment. The seller is required to clear the goods for export. This term should only be used for sea or inland waterway transport.

CIF (Cost, Insurance and Freight)
The seller has the same obligations as under CFR however he is also required to provide insurance against the buyer's risk of loss or damage to the goods during transit. The seller is required to clear the goods for export. This term should only be used for sea or inland waterway transport.

DES (Delivered Ex Ship)
The seller has fulfilled his obligation to deliver when the goods are available to the buyer on board the ship uncleared for import at the main port of destination. The seller is responsible for all costs and risk of loss or damage in bringing the goods to the named port of destination. This term should only be used for sea or inland waterway transport.

DEQ (Delivered Ex Quay)
The seller has fulfilled his obligation to deliver when the goods are available to the buyer on the quay (wharf) at the named port of destination, cleared for importation. The seller is responsible for all risks and costs including duties, taxes in making available the goods at the port of destination. This term should only be used for sea or inland waterway transport.


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