When sending a parcel to Australia there are some things worth knowing before you even start looking for a courier quote to avoid disappointment further down the line.
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Customs Invoices, Sending Gifts Prohibited Goods Packaging
Duties and Taxes.
Customs Invoices, Import Duties, Taxes and Licences
You have to send a customs invoice with your parcel if you are shipping to Australia (unless you’re sending only documents). It doesn’t matter if you are sending a gift, personal effects or goods you have sold on eBay. If your parcel does not have a customs invoice attached it will not make it past your local country border, and you may have to pay return charges to get your parcel back! ParcelHero’s online booking service will automatically provide you with a customs invoice when you send a parcel to Australia.
What is a customs invoice and what is it used for?
The customs invoice is used by Australian Customs authorities to assess and inspect the imported goods, and to levy any duties or taxes they may deem applicable to the goods being imported into their country. It is important to understand that it is not the courier who is levying additional charges, it is the Australian authorities. It’s simply part of the local government’s import regulations and legislations, and if you want to send a parcel to Australia you must comply with these.
To create a shipping invoice you need to know the following information about your parcel:
- The shipper’s address (collection address)
- The receiver’s address (delivery address)
- The goods description for each item you are sending (IT Equipment, clothing, toys, ceramic mugs)
- The value of each item for customs purposes along with the total shipment value
- The reason for export (personal effects, samples, promotional items, sold goods, returned for repair, personal effects)
How are Australian duties and taxes calculated?
The Australian Customs authorities will use a combination of the value of the goods, the reason for export and the goods description, to decide which category of duties and taxes apply to your parcel. For example; goods that are for re-sale are subject to a higher amount of duties and taxes, than goods that are sent as gifts and personal affects.
When your goods arrive in Australia, customs will need to classify the duty amount payable for each product you’re sending. Different products have different levels of duty and tax. Each product has a ‘tariff classification’ you don’t have to research this, but if your sending high value items it’s recommended, otherwise customs may use the incorrect classification and inadvertently apply the incorrect level of duty and tax, which may cost you more.
Importing Goods temporarily into Australia? Remember this
If you’re only sending goods temporarily to Australia, and the goods will leave Australia again within 12 months, then you may not have to pay any duty and tax. This is referred to as a ‘Temporary import’ Goods that qualify may also be imported under a carnet, which you can obtain from your local Chamber of Commerce (But it’s quite expensive, normally around £150)
There are strict conditions on temporary imports, and if you don’t tell customs when the goods leave Australia, then you will have to pay the duty and tax that would have been payable when you first imported them into Australia.
For more information on temporary imports can be found here: Temporary Imports Fact Sheet
Sending gifts and personal effects to Australia
All luggage shipments imported into Australia are considered as unaccompanied personal effects (UPE’s) and may be subject to duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) – however if you meet certain criteria, you should not have to pay anything at all.
Gifts are not classed as personal effects, and will therefore go through normal customs clearance in Australia. There is no duty or tax concession for sending gifts to Australia; this means that your receiver will have to pay duties and taxes in order to clear the goods through customs. Unfortunately, this is a regulation imposed by the Australian authorities and it is not subject to dispute.
How to qualify for a duty and tax free concession on your personal effects shipment:
- Personally owned and used the goods for at least 12 months before shipping to Australia
- Have arrived or intend to arrive in Australia
- Be an arriving person who is a permanent resident (returning to Australia) or a first time migrant from a place outside Australia taking up permanent residency.
Goods that can be declared as personal effects usually include, but are not limited to; personal clothing and footwear (but not fur apparel), grooming equipment (but not perfume or perfume concentrates), furniture, rugs, curtains, books and bicycles.
Personal belongings/goods that do not qualify for UPE Exemption:
- Alcohol and tobacco products
- Parts for cars, motorcycles or other vehicles
- Goods you intend to sell (commercial goods)
- Goods you have purchased from overseas while you are in Australia (including internet purchases)
- Goods which were bequeathed to you
You can find out more information about the concession criteria here.
Shipping tip: Customs clearance of personal effects may delay your shipment by 24-48 hours. However, if you want to help avoid delays complete the B534 form prior to shipping (attach to your package in a separate documents enclosed pouch), and it will help speed up the process. (You may also be asked for copies of your passport on arrival).
What if I don’t qualify for the UPE duty & tax concession? Your personal effects will be subject to duty and GST as follows:
- Australian customs clearance fee $150 AUD + 10% GST (Goods services tax)
Prohibited and Restricted Goods
As a general rule, you can be sure that most medicines, cosmetics, perishable foods, animal products (including feathers), wooden objects and plants are either classed restricted or prohibited. Restricted items can still be sent, but may require your receiver to obtain a permit or import licence in advance for customs clearance.
These items can’t be sent via courier, click to find out more:
Aerosols Dairy Furs Ivory Fresh Food Animals Cash
Nail Varnish Perfume Plants Tobacco Seeds
You can also contact the Australian Customs Information and Support Centre (CISC) by telephone on 1300 363 263 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Packaging Your Parcel
Australia goes to great lengths to protect its stunning natural environment and habitats from harmful diseases and pests, and this means that many products, goods and even some packaging materials are prohibited to use if you are sending a parcel to Australia.
To avoid any major issues upon import into Australia make sure you steer clear of the following packaging materials:
- Egg cartons
- Wooden boxes (all wood boxes, creates or pallets must be fumigated, and be accompanied by a fumigation certificate for entry into Australia).
- Cardboard boxes that have been used to hold fruit, vegetables or meat (this packaging is prohibited, and at risk of quarantine!).
- Straw material
- Dried plant material
So what can you use to package your goods?
Well, as with all parcels, it’s always best to invest in a new sturdy double corrugated (or even triple corrugated) cardboard box as the outer packaging. For the internal packaging you can use bubble wrap, newspapers or foam. For more guidance on packaging your goods safely, click here: Packaging Guidelines.