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Australia’s AUD 1000 De Minimis Rate and Import Prohibitions and Restrictions

Benedict Leong

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Australia has seen an increase in eCommerce shopping thanks to people’s change in lifestyles since the advent of COVID-19 in 2020.

If you are aiming to satisfy some of Australia’s increasing online shopping demand and minimise customs issues, 2 key things to take note of are its de minimis rate and which items you can and cannot ship into the country.

Australia’s customs valuation and de minimis rate (AUD 1000)

Disclaimer: This article should not be used as tax advice and is only intended to inform you on what to look out for. Please consult a tax professional to find out if you need to charge GST on your sales to your Australian online shoppers. You can find more information on GST and the cost of importing goods here.

When it comes to customs clearance and importing goods, de minimis refers to the monetary value below which imports into the country are charged lower or no duties and taxes with some shipments being duty-free.

Usually, countries’ customs facilities need to process many of these parcels daily and it would be too burdensome for them if they needed to process every single one. Parcels that are below the de minimis help countries’ customs departments manage their workloads in this case. On the other hand, tighter de minimis rates can also be used at times to deter a country’ citizens from importing too much, which was seen recently in Indonesia.

In Australia, ‘customs value’ and the ‘value used to calculate the GST’ are different:1

Customs Value – Used for calculating the ad valorem customs duty:

  • “Does not include freight and insurance costs incurred by the purchaser before the goods leave the ‘place of export’ are included in the customs value”

Value used for calculating the Goods and Service Tax:

  • Price of the goods themselves “combined with customs duty, international transport and insurance costs and, where applicable, Wine Equalisation Tax, to produce the value of the taxable importation”

You can get the breakdown of customs value calculations (the Jeans Co and Jewellery Co examples) here.

In Australia, shipments at or below AUD 1000, but excluding tobacco, tobacco products and alcoholic beverages, are considered low value imports.2

There are generally no duties or taxes or charges to pay at the border for low value imports, but some shipments may need GST to be collected by overseas vendors of these low value imports at the point of sale and not at the border. The Australian Taxation Office provides examples of when taxes are collected at the border or at the point of sale here.3

From 1st July 2018, 10 percent Goods and Sales Tax (GST)4 may apply to these goods when they are bought by Australians online from an overseas vendor at the point of sale.5 Based on information from the Australian Border Force and Australian Taxation Office:6

  • You’ll need to charge GST for sales going into Australia if your sales to Australia-based consumers reaches the threshold of A$ 75,000 (or A$ 150,000 if you are non-profit organisation) in the last 12 months7
    • If you’ve reached this threshold and are not registered for GST in Australia, you need to register for GST.
  • Registering for GST is optional if your business or enterprise doesn’t cross the above Australian sales thresholds.8
    • This includes sales made through online marketplaces: “If all of these sales are made through an online marketplace or electronic distribution platform you may not need to register for GST.”9
    • This is because only one business charges GST on a sale – “if an EDP operator (e.g. eBay or Amazon) is responsible for GST on a sale, the merchant won’t be responsible for GST”10

There are GST exemptions for certain products. You can find exemptions lists and more on the Australian Taxation Office’s website.11

For shipments above A$1000, GST will be collected at the border. You will also need to fill in the Self-assessed clearance form and pay an import processing charge. Duties will also be charged based on the type of goods that you are importing into Australia. For more info on the duties charged based on goods type, you can refer to this link: https://ftaportal.dfat.gov.au/

If you’re shipping to Australia with Janio, we can help you to organise your shipments to help them move more smoothly through Australian customs. To find out more, reach out to us via the button below:

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Australia’s Prohibited and Restricted Imports

Prohibited Goods

Asbestos, counterfeit credit cards, certain drugs, narcotics and therapeutic substances, hazardous goods, radioactive substances, certain food items and signal jammers are prohibited from being shipped into Australia via courier

 

Below are some item categories are not allowed to be imported into Australia.

  • Asbestos
  • Counterfeit credit cards
  • Certain Drugs, Narcotics and Therapeutic substances
  • Hazardous goods and Radioactive substances
  • Certain food items* (containing meat, egg, dairy, unpopped popcorn, nuts)
  • Signal jammers

*Janio currently cannot ship food items to Australia

For the full list of prohibited goods, you can check this list from the Australian Border Force:12

Restricted Goods

In Australia, restricted imports are prohibited from entering Australia unless you have a permit from the relevant authorities.

Australia restricts goods from the following categories:

  • Certain consumer products
  • Drugs, Medicines and Therapeutic Substances
  • Hazardous goods
  • Intellectual property and cultural items
  • Animals and Plants
  • Weapons and Firearms
  • Defense and Strategic Goods

Below is a summary of consumer products categories that are relevant to eCommerce merchants that are restricted from being imported into Australia along with their respective governing bodies in Australia for getting permits or certifications:

Australia’s Restricted Consumer Products Imports

NameProhibited/ RestrictedGoverning body/ List
Ceramic ware – glazedRestrictedNational Measurement Institute certification
Dog collars – protrusionsRestrictedMinister for Home Affairs
Erasers, novelty – toxic materialsRestrictedMinister for Home Affairs
Fly swatters/mosquito bats – electronicRestrictedAustralian Border Force
Incandescent lampsRestrictedMinister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources
Laser pointersRestrictedDepends on the State you’re importing to
LightersRestrictedConsumer Product Safety Branch – Australian Competition & Consumer Commission
Money boxes, novelty – toxic materialsRestrictedMinister for Home Affairs
Pencils or paint brushes – toxic materialsRestrictedMinister for Home Affairs
Tobacco – Chewing and oral snuffRestrictedAustralian Competition and Consumer Commission
Toys – toxic materialsRestrictedMinister of Home Affairs

Australia’s Restricted Items for Intellectual property and cultural items:

NameProhibited/ RestrictedGoverning Body/ List
ANZACRestrictedMinister for Veterans’ Affairs
Cultural heritage goods from Papua New GuineaRestrictedDepartment of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications – Office for the Arts – Movable cultral heritage
Goods bearing an image of an Australian state or territory flag, coat of arms or sealRestrictedMinister of Home Affairs
Goods bearing an image of the Australian Arms, Flag or Seal of the CommonwealthRestrictedCommonwealth Flag Officer

For the full list of restricted goods, you can check this list from the Australian Border Force.12 Please note that we have defined goods as ‘restricted’ if they are able to be imported into Australia with a permit or written permission from the goods category’s governing body.

It pays to stay on top of what can or cannot be shipped into Australia. If you’re shipping with Janio, we can help to advise you what these are to help keep your shipments into Australia moving smoothly. Contact us to get a quote today!

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References:

  1. Australian Border Force – Valuation of Imported Goods
  2. Australian Border Force – Buying online
  3. Australian Border Force – GST on low value imported goods | Australian Taxation Office
  4. Australian Taxation Office – Non-resident businesses and GST
  5. Australian Border Force – GST on low value goods when importing
  6. Australian Taxation Office – Registering for GST
  7. Australian Taxation Office – If you are a merchant
  8. Moulla – When Should You Register for GST?
  9. Australian Taxation Office – Non-resident businesses and GST
  10. Australian Taxation Office – How to charge GST
  11. Australian Taxation Office – GST-free supplies for non-residents
  12. Australian Border Force – List of prohibited items
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