The Basics of Importing to Australia and NZ

Generally, importing to Australia does not require a license. But special licenses are necessary for some products. To know more about Australia’s prohibited goods, visit

So, when you’re importing to Australia, ensure that your goods are categorized appropriately. This way, the right duties and tariffs will be imposed.

If you are not aware of how your goods will be classified, importers can rely on the customs that will be providing a tariff advice service. To get hold of this opportunity, you should apply for a tariff concession on imported gods which do not have a competitive advantage with goods of Australian manufacture. Just bring your supporting evidences and you can already apply for a tariff concession.

But this doesn’t mean, you are no longer responsible for it. You have the sole responsibility of ensuring that your goods are categorized properly as well as the preparation of customs documentation even though your broker, freight forwarder or service provider is preparing them. Verify these documents first before they are submitted to customs. Don’t forget to keep copies for your own records. Remember, that all customs documentation should be kept for 5 years. In case of any errors, tackle these to your broker or freight forwarder. Take note also of any surplus goods, promotional materials and samples.

So, when your goods arrive, what do the customs do?

Customs will either check your goods or relinquish the inspection. Commercial documentation may not be necessary. However, you need to retain significant commercial documentations for 5 years. As your formally have your goods get in, you have to submit an Australian Business Number (ABN) if ever you have one. So importers can obtain input tax credits. Another is for GST purposes, thereby making you easily access the GST deferral scheme.

Cost of Duties and Tariffs

The costs of duties and tariffs rely on the classification code of the goods, appraisal and country where the goods came from. The appraisal of imported goods may be complicated. Thus, it’s best for importers to ask for suggestions and recommendations from a customs broker. Contacting the Customs Information and Support Centre on 1300 363 263 is also another option. You can also email them at

Importing Goods to NZ

In importing goods to NZ, you will be doing the following:

  • Creating concise entries
  • Disburse all customs charges
  • Retain all commercial documents for utmost 7 years and provide these documents if the Customs requires you to do so
  • Accomplish all legislative requirements

Categorization of Goods

With regards to importing, the accurate categorization of goods is the most complicated. In turn, a lot of people resorting to using Custom brokers to handle the matter instead. However, the classification code complements the merchandise and will conclude the tariffs and duties that you need to pay. This means that you it is your responsibility to select the accurate classification code. But whether you finish the process on your own or you asked help from a broker or Customs, you will still be providing 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.

Another thing that importers need to do is to get in touch with shipping companies, airlines or freight forwarders. Inquire about their requirements, operating hours and/or location of the goods.

Can I still get help with the classification of goods?

Newbie’s in the import business need not worry. The Customs provide training programs which importers like you can join and meet up. To know further details, you can just send an email to

If you’ve succeeded around this business for quite some time already, you can finish the entry yourself. Another option is to make use of a Customs broker or agent or freight forwarder. You will be accomplishing these import entries through electronic means with the use of the CusWeb software. Even if the customs documents are completed by a broker or agent, please keep in mind that you are always accountable for the truthfulness of these documents. So, there is a need to verify every single detail.

Where can I find a Customs Broker?

Look for customs brokers and freight forwarders in the New Zealand business directories. You can also visit for a list of affiliated CBAFF customs brokers.

Costs of Tariffs and Duties

You can determine the tariffs and duties of your goods through its categorization, country of origin and the trade agreements some countries. Duty is expressed as a percentage rate and is calculated on the Customs value of the goods.

What is GST?

Known as the Goods and Services Tax, a 12.5% GST is imposed on roughly all products imported to NZ. You can pay the GST by totting up the following amounts:

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

What is an Import Entry Transaction Fee?

Each commercial import entry and import declaration for goods with a duty and GST liability of $50 or more is imposed with an Import Entry Transaction Fee of $25.38 (GST inclusive).

Mode of Payments

Payments can be done into three options:

  • Cash
  • Deferred payments, wherein only importers with deferred accounts can avail
  • Broker deferred, these can only be availed upon the request of agents with broker deferred accounts