What you need to know about importing goods into Australia

7 Minutes
Business tipsFinance
What you need to know about importing goods into Australia
In this article

This guide is designed to make you aware of the risks, regulations, challenges, and costs involved with importing into Australia, and how you can successfully navigate these and begin expanding your onshore business offering.

1. Be aware of importing laws and government regulations

There are a number of important regulations that the Australian Government requires businesses to follow when importing goods into Australia. You can find the necessary import rules on the Australian Border Force (ABF) website

Make sure you familiarise yourself with these rules prior to importing into Australia, so you understand the regulations surrounding import conditions, quarantine, prohibited imports, and general import compliance.

Do I need a permit?

While there is no license required when importing goods into Australia, there are some permits that allow you to clear specific goods through customs.

These permits are typically required for items like alcohol, tobacco, chemicals, and certain foods. Provided you meet certain conditions and requirements, you can request written permission from the relevant bodies to import these goods.

2. Check which duties and taxes you may need to pay

All goods being imported into Australia must be cleared in order to come through the border. Depending on the nature of your products, there will likely be charges, duties, or taxes that apply.

Goods valued at $1,000 or less are considered low-value imports. When imported via either sea or air cargo, or through international mail, there are usually no duties or taxes to pay on these types of goods. Goods worth over $1,000 will typically receive charges, taxes, or duties, and require you to fill out an Import Declaration.

The exceptions to this are tobacco and alcohol. These goods require you to pay taxes and duties, regardless of their import value.

The typical duties and taxes paid on import goods over $1,000 are:

- Import entry and processing costs: $200 or less

- Customs import duty, calculated as a percentage of the price originally paid for the goods : Ranges from 0% - 10%. Typical rate is 5%

- GST sales tax, which is based on the valuation of the goods, customs import duty fee, and any transport insurance costs : 10% of the final amount

Before importing into Australia you should:

  • Ensure you have an ABN in order to claim input tax credits

  • Be registered for GST

  • Supply the Department of Immigration and Border Protection with your ABN

The ABF provides a good resource on its website to check all applicable taxes and charges.

3. Free trade agreements

Some countries and governments have struck free trade agreements with Australia, in a bid to reduce international trade barriers and lower import costs.  

Australia currently has 11 free trade agreements in place with 18 countries. Check to see if this applies to your goods.

4. Ensure you correctly label and package your products

Labelling and packaging your products properly makes their entry into Australia much easier and reduces the risk of delays, or seizure by ABF.


Label your products prominently and clearly in English, and include:

  • The country of origin and manufacture

  • An accurate and correct description of the goods inside

  • Both a recipient and sender’s address


Your products should be packaged to meet Australia’s import requirements.

  • If possible, have someone inspect the import container prior to packing. The container you use should be free of dirt, soil, and plant and animal material.

  • Provide a detailed and accurate packing declaration, to ensure all the materials being brought into the country are allowed. It’s important to choose your packing materials carefully. Plastics, synthetic materials, wool, and shredded paper are all acceptable within Australia. All timber packaging should be treated, and free of bark.

  • Avoid using straw, meat or fruit cartons, or reusing bags or sacks. These materials are prohibited, and if found may be removed and destroyed upon entering the country. 

5. Quarantine: is it required?

Australia has strict quarantine laws to protect our unique biodiversity. This means that when importing goods into Australia that include plant, animal, mineral, or human products, it’s likely that these will need to be quarantined. They will then be treated for pests, disease, and other biological factors.

6. Don’t pay too much on FX

There are already numerous costs involved with importing goods into Australia. Paying too much on FX when paying your overseas suppliers doesn’t have to be one of them.

Airwallex’s International Payments allows you to send payments internationally to over 130 countries, in over 20 different currencies. We’ve built our own international payment network, so you gain access to local currencies and payment methods. Our smart, auto-routing technology finds the optimal route to delivering your funds internationally, meaning lightning-fast, up to same-day payment.

Our priority network allows businesses to access our interbank FX rate and save up to 90% versus the big banks. Businesses making over $1M in international payments could be saving up to $40,000 per annum just by using Airwallex. That could be your marketing budget for 3 months. 

Make the most of importing into Australia with Airwallex International Payments

This article should give you a good idea of how to get started importing goods into Australia. And as well as complying with all relevant laws and regulations, you want to make it as cost-effective as possible, because this will allow your business to re-invest any savings back into the business. 

So if you’re looking to expand your onshore offering and want to get the best price on your international payments, get in touch with Airwallex today. We can discuss how our international payments product can give you the best rates and help your business improve its cashflow. 

Related article: How to Manage Foreign Exchange Risk for your Business

Our products and services in Australia are provided by Airwallex Pty Ltd ABN 37 609 653 312 who holds AFSL 487221. Any information provided is for general information purposes only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider the appropriateness of the information in light of your own objectives, financial situation or needs. Please read and consider the Product Disclosure Statement available on our website before using our service.

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