Ultimate Guide to Importing Goods to Australia

Explore Our Guide to Importing Goods to Australia

Explore our guide for all the ultimate tips and tricks you need to know about importing goods into Australia.

The essential import consulting services for your business.

For most industries, the import and export of goods play an integral part in the functionality of many businesses. It is the backbone of branching out into the international market, access to new products, and a way to ensure a seamless exchange between buyers and sellers. However, the regulations and compliance laws about importation and exportation can be intricate and ever-changing for both new and seasoned businesses.

From shipments big and small, every business needs an import consultant to provide them with the necessary skills and knowledge to ensure this area of your business is working as proficiently as any other. At Prof. Consulting Group, with years of industry experience and thorough comprehension of the intricacies of importing goods to Australia, we will advise to ensure your products and business are best prepared to access new markets.

The advantages to Importing Goods and Services.

When a business ventures into the international market by importing goods to Australia, we can track critical components which give us a broad trajectory of the potential success they will encounter. Businesses should constantly seek ways to improve their supply chain’s organisation and reduce costs simultaneously. One way to improve a business’s profit margin is by importing goods and services. Importing certain goods to Australia from international sources can offer a myriad of benefits including comprising lower-priced goods through volume benefits, higher quality products through innovation, access to new products entering the market that in many cases have been already developed for other markets ( turnkey innovation), and the advantages of free trade agreements. Here are those benefits explained in more depth:

Comparative advantage is one of the many reasons a business may source goods and services from an international supplier. The circumstances in a foreign market offer lower production costs due to differing labour costs and tax structures. Rather than investing money into expensive infrastructure to meet demands, businesses can reduce costs by importing goods and services at a lower price, enhancing their profit margin. Leading innovation can be expensive and high risk, the ability to source innovation internationally to establish a market before investing in local capability reduces this risk in a logical approach.

Every country worldwide has unique resources and fields they excel in, which will always be in demand in a global market. The ability to thrive in the worldwide market can come down to the quality of the imported product, which is why many countries have introduced standards and regulations about products leaving and entering their ports. A business model that utilises the importation ensures a high-quality product due to manufacturers relying on a good reputation in the global market and adherence to standards of products not readily available domestically. Additionally, consumers are becoming increasingly focused on authentic foods driven by their love of travel, creating further import opportunities (ethnic spices, rice, coffee or dried pasta as common examples).

The market in Europe and America often sources a predominant portion of their goods from numerous businesses in India and China, primarily due to the market size in conjunction with the population. New products introduced in these markets may take over twelve months before we see them in our own.

Market researchers on our team can observe global trends to find out what products are well received in these countries, determine if there is a need for those products in the market our client is entering, and develop effective marketing strategies ahead of competitors.

The trade industry, and trade relations, are supported by most governments from around the world. For suppliers in developing countries, it assists with the growth of their economy and, in return, positive trade relations for resources outside their borders. Many negotiated and established free trade agreements (FTAs) provide specific advantages, such as access to exclusive resources, and make importation a smooth and more cost-effective process. Currently, Australia has six FTAs, and an additional eight in negotiation.

Why is Importing important in business?

Importation is a cornerstone of business because it is the pivotal link in the economic chain connecting industries worldwide and supporting our global market expansion. Every country is home to its natural resources, but they may also have limited availabilities or shortages of others. Importation allows the exchange of resources between countries, filling the gaps in different global markets and meeting consumer demands. This symbiotic relationship connects businesses and individuals to resources and services, which, in turn, creates economic expansion and the international development of companies and manufacturing.

In manufacturing your product, some ingredients you require cannot be domestically sourced, or it is more economical when to import goods to Australia. These benefits also affect consumers as the imported products are more cost-effective and present a diverse range for them to engage with, incentivising them to be return consumers.

What documents are needed to Import goods?

Businesses in the process of importing goods to Australia through customs can often feel completely overwhelmed by the numerous legislations, laws, and conditions of entry. Expenses associated with this process continuously change to match current economic developments and newly introduced free trade agreements, but required documentation remains predominantly unchanged. These documents are one method the Department uses to assess any biosecurity risks of imported goods and manage outcomes from the information provided in the documentation.

The five primary custom documents that importers must complete include:

  • Import Declaration
  • Import Permit
  • Bill of Lading
  • Commercial Invoice
  • Certificate of Origin

Completing an Import Declaration must be done when you import goods into Australia. The declaration form depends on factors including the valuation of the product and warehouse storage before customs clearance.

Three key declaration documents include a Self-Assessed Clearance Declaration for imports with a value lesser than AUD 1000.00, an Import Declaration (N10) for substances with a value exceeding AUD 1000.00, and a Warehouse Declaration (N20) for imports with a value exceeding AUD 1000.00 intended to store, before customs clearance.

Depending on the classification and requirements of the imported goods, you may require an import permit Australia-wide. Goods arriving at customs without the necessary permit may be seized or destroyed. You can contact one or more of the following agencies for permission regarding the importation of your goods: Biosecurity Import Conditions, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, Office of Drug Control, Therapeutic Goods Administration.

A Bill of Lading (BOL) is a mandatory legal document that outlines the transportation of goods from the point of export to the end of import. This document is confirmation of goods by the exporter, loaded onto the mode of transport, and the condition they were received. The BOL also includes the contract of the arranged method of transportation, time and date of the handover, ports involved in the transfer, details of goods, importers’ name and details, and additional shipping information.

A Commercial Invoice is a document primarily used to determine the value of goods and applicable duties and taxes. The information in this document should include all three parties involved in this import (exporter, shipper, and importer), a description of product contents, the commercial value of the goods, terms of purchase, and the country of export.

The last document required is to be completed by the exporter; this is a Certificate of Origin. This document is a declaration that specifies the country the goods originate from or the country that manufactured the goods. This document includes the country exporting the goods, a description of the goods, and the country receiving the goods. A valid Certificate of Origin support importers in discerning any concessions or tariff reductions of eligibility.

How to avoid paying import tax in Australia?

Unfortunately, there is almost certainly no way to avoid paying import tax in Australia.

However, there are ways to reduce high or unnecessary costs when importing goods to Australia.

  • Be familiar with importation laws and government regulations
  • Research the category of goods
  • Determine how much customs duty is in Australia
  • Determine the taxes you will be expected to pay
  • Learn about free trade agreements and concessions that may apply to you
  • Research all costs from the initial purchase to the logistics.

Although import tariffs and taxes are almost entirely unavoidable, our team can support you in finding the most cost-effective way of importing goods to Australia and connecting you to where you need to go.

What are the essential aspects of importing goods to Australia?

When importing goods into Australia, it is essential to consider these aspects:

What is the value of the goods entering Australia? The transaction value is the most frequently used process for valuing any import or the price the importer paid for the product. The imported product must be labelled and documented with the correct valuation to determine the associated duties and taxes. Two necessary conditions for this method to be used are the buyer and seller have no relation and that this exchange is business motivated. Alternate methods can include identical goods value, similar goods value, deductive value, computed value, and fall-back value.

What is the tariff classification of goods entering Australia? When importing goods to Australia, all goods are legally required to have a tariff classification; this assists customs in applying duty rate, GST, and any additional fees. It is essential to research the free trade agreements in Australia and whether your product is entitled to any concession or exemptions. We can walk you through this information during a consultation if you are unsure of these guidelines.

Identifying the Country of Origin is an importation requirement as it helps establish the country of export. This information allows customs to determine if your goods are subject to any tax or duty decrease under a free trade agreement, trade sanctions, and import quotas. For example, Australia has an FTA with Singapore, our leading trade associate in South-East Asia. Therefore, imports originating from this country are entitled to a tariff exemption.

What is the number of goods entering Australia? All imported goods must adhere to import quotas, which are limitations governments put on certain goods to safeguard domestic interests. All imported goods must document the contents, including quantity, to ensure importers meet their compliance obligations. The World Customs Organisation’s standard units of measure weight, length, area, volume, electrical power, and number (units).

How Does Prof. Consulting Group Help with Import Compliance?

Our team at Prof. Consulting Group is paving the way for businesses entering the global market. In this fast-paced industry, we are with you to navigate through the complex process of importation and exportation. Our team of experts have extensive experience in market research, trade process, manufacturing, and supply and sourcing of product. With our well-established networks expanding across Australia, the UK, New Zealand, Europe, and South America, we can connect you and your product to markets domestically and internationally.

We take many steps in market research to review your product, understand its alignment to the target market, match the retail narrative, and research key profitability indicators. But further, we also guide you in ensuring your product is import compliant.

Here are just some of the many ways we can help you with import compliance:

Australia has detailed and specific regulations regarding importing food-related products and ingredients to reduce biosecurity and consumer food safety risks. During the early stages of consultation, our team will guide you through what food products/ingredients are permitted or not permitted in this market and which components are permitted or not permitted in the markets you intend on entering. We will discuss alternative sources for products that are not allowed.

Our leading industry experts will inform you of the declarations, documentation, permits, or customs clearance requirements. The importation process can be complex, time-consuming and expensive if not completed correctly, which is why we provide this service to our clients. Our experienced team will direct you on how to effectively and cost-effectively import your product.

Ensuring your ingredients are compliant in the market also means ensuring that the product’s labelling and packaging are also compliant. Evaluations help to guarantee the product labelling is legally compliant, with all relevant information, including the nutritional panel and listed allergens clearly and correctly identifiable. Our team will, with industry guidelines, evaluate the product to ensure it is adhering to manufacturing standards.

When challenges arise that prevent imports from being cleared through customs, our team will construct a strategy to negotiate a way forward between government agencies, key stakeholders, manufacturers, and the client. Our team of experts in the field will support you in navigating these strict biosecurity laws both before shipment and arrival through evaluation of documentation and liaising with relevant customs offices.


For most industries, the import and export of goods play an integral part in the functionality of many businesses. It is the backbone of branching out into the international market, accessing new products, and a way to ensure a seamless exchange between buyers and sellers.

Here at Prof. Consulting Group, our team of industry experts is here to assist you in navigating this dynamic landscape. From providing you with market research, helping you move through the import laws and regulations quickly, to connecting you with new global markets. We are with you every step of the way.

The trade landscape is rapidly expanding, don’t let your business get left behind; contact Prof. Consulting Group today.

Frequently Asked Questions – Importing Goods to Australia

Why do I need an Import Consultant?

The process of importing goods into Australia, for businesses small and large, requires thorough knowledge of trade regulatory systems to ensure that this exchange complies with international import laws. Importing consultants are well versed in industry regulations and import guidelines to support you and your business in a seamless transaction. We will help you avoid potential importation fines due to incorrect adherence to custom requirements.

What does an Import Consultant do?

We are a reference point for all things trade. They provide:

  • Advice on competitive landscape, target retailers’ corporate strategies and channels
  • In country label guidance for retail products
  • Connections to agents or distributors
  • Up-to-date import compliance training
  • Provide a variety of audits to ensure your import program is clear of any infractions
  • Introduces an import compliance program to meet trade regulations
  • Ensuring your imports are HTS compliant
  • Ensuring FTA requirements are met
  • Initiating duty protests to acquire duty drawbacks and financial return for your business

How much does an Import Permit cost in Australia?

Due to biosecurity laws, some commodities entering Australia may be subject to a permit granted before those commodities arrive.
Applications made through the Department for a Standard Permit cost an estimated $180, compromised by the standard application levy and assessment fee. Please ensure you read through the import conditions and that your goods meet all requirements to obtain a Standard permit.

If you do not meet these requirements, you can apply online for a Non-Standard Permit, which ranges in price according to the listed category. An import consultant can help you in navigating this process. Please ensure a completed application to avoid any additional fees associated with incomplete applications.

Do I need an Import License in Australia?

Although businesses and individuals do not require a license to import goods, you may need to obtain an import permit Australia-wide for certain imported products. Please review your local importing laws and regulations for more information on what products require a permit.

Does Australia have Tariffs on Imports?

Goods that enter Australia must be cleared through the Australian Border Force and may incur GST, duty, or additional charges. Based on the HS Code and documentation provided for your shipment, a tariff rate will be calculated and applied, and payment of duty will incur. You may be eligible for a tariff concession if no Australian manufacturers can effectively replicate the imported goods.

How is Import Duty calculated?

When asking how much customs duty is in Australia, the best way to calculate that is by the classification of the product, any concessions or exemptions, and any existing free trade agreements. For most products, Australia’s customs duty is a standard rate of 5% of the product’s value converted to a predetermined exchange rate.