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Australia - Customs and Duties

Whatever you are moving in and out of Australia will be subject to customs checking and possible duty charges. Each item will be physically checked by a customs officer before being cleared to continue to their destination. Australian customs do not charge duty or sales tax on unaccompanied item as long as they have been owned by you and used for at least 12 months before entering the country. However, items that have not been owned or used for 12 months will be subject to charges.

All sales receipts for items you wish to bring with you must be shown otherwise you may be charged. Proof of purchase is the best way of showing how old the items are. Receipts will show the value of each item which is also required by customs. If you are shipping large amounts of items into the country in storage such as containers, then each crate or container will be opened and the items inside will be checked individually by a customs officer.

A B534 Customs Declaration Form should be signed by yourself to enable the goods to be cleared through customs. You will also need to photocopy all the pages of your passport and include them with your customs paperwork. Both the passport paperwork and the B534 form will need to be sent to the Australian Customs before the shipment arrives in the country. If you are using an import agent or shipping service then they should be able to advise you on this procedure. If you are not using a company that specialises in imports to Australia then you will need to contact Australian customs to ensure you are following the correct procedure. Failure to do so could result in delays of your possessions reaching you at your new residence, or even refusal of entry into the country which could become very costly.

There are several items that are restricted or even prohibited from being allowed through customs, if you do need to ship any items that may cause problems at customs then it is wise to contact the customs office in Australia prior to the goods being shipped to seek their advice or to inform them that restricted items are to be sent.

Those restricted items include but are not limited to, flammable items or those of a corrosive nature. If you are unsure, any item that contains such properties will by law be clearly marked as flammable or corrosive. These are hazardous to be shipped both by air and sea and it is highly recommended that these are not included in your consignment. Animal skins are also on the restricted list. The skins of an animal deemed as endangered are strictly prohibited, so if you are shipping an item made from animal skin you will need a certificate from an approved taxidermist to show it is not from an endangered animal. This certificate must be sent to the Australian Quarantine department prior to the item arriving in the country.

Obvious items such as weapons or drugs also have restrictions. If you want to ship any kind of weapon including those that are classed as ornamental then they will be subject to strict customs searches. To import firearms, you must submit an Australian shooters license before customs will allow these item to pass into the country. If you want to ship prescribed drugs into the country with you then customs officials may ask for copies of the doctor’s prescription. It would be wise to carry a copy of the official prescription with you just in case this is requested. They should also be carried with you as hand luggage and not packed with your shipping consignment.

If you are taking with you a vacuum cleaner then it must be empty. Any vacuum cleaner bags will be checked for dirt. The same is also said for any gardening equipment you may want to take with you. Any sign of soil or dirt may mean that the items must be fumigated and extra cost to you. Any wood products you wish to ship with you must be treated and not in its natural state. This includes bamboo and cane items. This is because the dirt, dust and untreated wood may carry spores from plant life, bacteria or other such life that are not indigenous to Australia. Introduction of these items into the country when not under controlled environments can cause great upset to the eco system of the country over the years.

Safety items such as baby seats that are not Australian made can also cause problems at customs. This is because Australia has strict laws and very high safety standards and many of these products do not comply with the standards required by Australian law. Other items that can cause problems through customs can be rather surprising. Collections such as stamps or antiques that are deemed to have high values will require a certificate of authentication prior to be allowed into the country. If in doubt before shipping anything always check with the Australian customs.

Charges such as duty and import tax vary depending on what you are shipping into the country. As a traveller into the country you are also allowed the standard duty free purchases such as wines and tobaccos. You are allowed to carry cash with you into the country, but if you are bringing in more than AUS$10,000, then this must be declared at customs.

Import agents are frequently used by those shipping goods to Australia, as this does take the hard work out of the process and there is someone on hand to deal with any issues on your behalf. There are many companies based both in Australia and in other countries around the world that provide this service and fees will vary.

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