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Export Policy

Export Policy, International Shipping Services, Company, Courier, Rates, Freight Services, Cargo and Parcel Delivery

Information For Exporters

Exporting Goods Overseas

The export of goods from Australia is controlled by laws and government policies which:

(a) prohibit or restrict the export of certain goods or

(b) enable the accurate recording of Australia's international trade statistics

Total prohibition applies to the export of protected wildlife and most Australian native species without a permit as well as some heritage items, selected weapons and other dangerous goods.  Goods for which export is restricted may not be exported unless all necessary export permits are obtained from the relevant permit issuing agencies.

Goods may not be exported or loaded on a ship or aircraft for export until they have been entered for export and Customs has given approval to export (although certain exemptions may apply).  Approval is indicated by a 'clear' Export Declaration Number (EDN).

Ships or aircraft may not depart from Australia unless Customs has issued a Certificate of Clearance.  Such a certificate will be issued only when all Australian Government requirements relating to the ship or aircraft and its cargo have been met.

Customs Role

This brochure sets out Customs Requirements in relation to exports.

The requirements are contained in the Customs Act 1901 (the act) and other relvant legislation.  They are designed to:

(a) identify goods that, for various reasons, are subject to special control arrangements.  These reasons might relate to quality standardsd (the preservation of Australia's reputation as an exporter of quality products), the preservation of native flora and fauna, or the protection of Australis strategic and foreign policy interests

(b) gather information about the nature and volume of exports to assist government and industry in policy development and decision making

(c) verify that exported goods are ot fraudulently diverted to avoid the payment of duties and / or taxes.

While at first glance the requirements may seem complex, they can be explained in simple terms.  Further information is available from Customs Information and Support Centre 1300 363 263.

GST and Exported Goods

The supply of goods can be Goods and Services Tax (GST) free under specified conditions. For example:

* when a supplier of goods exports those goods, the supply is GST free under certain conditions

* when a purchaser of goods exports those goods, the initial supply of the goods is GST free under different conditions

As the supply of goods can be free of both GST and excise duty, the Australian Taxation Office requires exporters to keep appropriate records to verify the goods have been exported.

Such records include air waybills, bills of lading and other export declarations, which must show Australian Business Numbers (ABNs). The Tax Office will use this informaton when carrying out verification checks of GST free amounts disclosed on activity statements.

For further information regarding GST, contact the Business Tax infoline on 13 28 66 or visit www.ato.gov.au

Export Declarations

An export declaration is a statement made to Customs providing information concerning the goods and the export transaction.  The export declaration is the basic document which describes an export consignment and can be made by the owner of the goods or an agent.  An export declaration (form B957) can be found online at www.customs.gov.au

Export Declarations may be lodged in either of the two ways:

* Electronically - by a registered user of the Integrated Cargo System, either as an agent acting on behalf of an owner or by the owner directly.  All parties must have the relevant role assigned against their registration.

* Manually (referred to as a documentary export declaration) - by completion of a paper declaration which may be prepared by the owner or an agent acting on behalf of the owner.

Exemption From Export Declaration

All goods intended to be exported from Australia with a value of AUD $2000 or more must be declared to Customs on an export declaration.

Regardless of value, goods that require a permit for export must be reported on an export declaration.

Goods that are exempt from requiring an export declaration include:

*personal effects

*goods with a value of less than AUD $2000

*goods temporarily imported under section 162a of the Act

*Australia Post or diplomatic bags of mail

*aircraft and ship stores

*military goods of any value that are the property of Australian Government for use overseas by Australian Defence Forces.

*There are exclusions and restrictions to the use of the exemptions.  Further Details may be found in the Export /control manual available at www.customs.gov.au

Permit Controls

Where goods are subject to export controls under the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1958 or any other Commonwealth legislation, the exporter must apply to the appropriate government department or agency for an export permit regardless of value of the consignment or any other export entry requirements.

Details of the permit must be reported to Customs when the goods are entered for export.  Failure to quote or provide a valid permit may result in failure to obtain an export clearance.

For Permit assistance visit www.aqis.gov.au

Quoting of the permit, license or other formal authority specified in the relvant legislation on the export declaration is regarded by Customs as evidence of the approval to export.

In some cases, the permit, license or other formal authority such as written permission, may have to be sighted by Customs as evidence of approval to export.

Commerce Trade Descriptions

Exporters should be aware that under the Commerce Trade Descriptions Act 1905 (the CTD Act), it is an offence to knowingly apply any false trade descriptions to goods destined for export, or to export such goods.  The term 'false trade description' means any description which by addition, deletion, effacement or otherwise is false or is likely to mislead.

Furthermore, trade description markings must be:

* in english

* in prominent and legible characters

* on a principal label or brand attached to the goods in a prominent / permanent position.

The CTD Act provides that any goods exported in contravention of any regulation may be sized and forgeited to the Crown.

Exporters who are uncertain about any aspect of Customs Requirements on labelling or trade descriptions should contact the Customs Information and Support Centre on 1300 363 263.


Transhipment cargo is carog which is temporarily passing through Australia before ultimately being exported overseas.  Transhipment cargo is subject to Customs control while in Australia and must be held at a Customs-approved premise pending export.

Access to transhipmentcargo requires the writen permission of Customs.

In some circumstances, such as for defence goods and hazardous waste, transhipment cargo is subject to Australian permit requirements.

Examination of Cargo and Documents

With consent, authorised officers may enter premises to examine goods intended for export, before they are broughtto the wharf or airport.  This may include premises of growers, producers, and manufacturers.

The export examination powers allow authorised officers to:

* examine export goods and take samples

* search premises for export goods and documents relating to them

* examine and take extracts and make copies of documents rlating to export goods

& ask the occupier questions about the goods and to produce documents relating to those goods for export

* bring equipment into the premises

Export examinations powers allow goods to be examined before they are packaged for export.  This removes some difficulties and time constraints associated with examining goods at the wharf.  Authorised officers use these powers to assist exporters to comply with reporting requirements and assess whether legal requirements in relation to exports are being met.

Retention and production of documents and records

Exporters must keep commercial documents that come into their possession at all times to enable Customs to verify the accuracy of information communicated by them.

Examples of commercial documents exporters are required to retain, include:

* commercial invoice - evidence of sale to the overseas importer

* master or house air waybill/ master or house bill of lading

* packing list

* technical specifications relating to the goods (particularly in relation to chemicals and plastics)

* permit issued by a permit issuing agency (if applicable)

* banking and other documents relating to the payment of goods

* evidence of on-costs incurred in the exportation of the goods such as agent's fees, state taxes, demurrage and bank fees.

Exporters are required to keep all commercial documents for five years from the time goods are exported.


When do I need an Export Declaration?

An export declaration is a requirment for:

* all export consignments greater than AUD$2000 in value

* goods requiring a permit

* goods on which a drawback is to be claimed

* customable and excisable goods on which duty/exise has not been paid.

The AUD$2000 threshold applies to a consigment as a whole rather than each line or type of good within a consignment.

Personal firearms that require a Restricted Goods Permit (RGP) also require an export entry.

To find out if your goods require and export permit see the export control manual on the Customs website at www.customs.gov.au

What goods are exempt from requiring and Export Declaration?

Goods that do not require and Export Declaration (regardless of value) are:

* Personal or household effects

* Pets

* consigments with a value of AUD $2000 or less

* goods covered by carnets or under s162A of the Customs Act 1901 (the Act)

* Australia Post or diplomatic bags

* containers for the international carriage of cargo

* ship or aircraft stores, and

* military goods being exported for the Australian Defence Force on military aircraft or vessel.

Please see Export Control Manual, Volume 12 for further detail on these exemptions.

Can I lodge an export entry even if it is not Required?

Yes. You may still lodge and export declaration with customs even if you are not required by law to do so. 

Who is responsible for completing an export declaration?

The owner of the goods must ensure an export declaration is lodged with Customs.

What defines an owner of Goods?

The Act defines an owner as any person (other than a Customs Officer) being the owner, importer, exporter, consignee, agent or person possessed of, or beneficially interested in, or having any control of, or power of disposition over the goods.

What happens if I do not lodge and export declaration?

If you or your agent fail to lodge an export entry when a declaration is required, you will have no authority to deal with the goods, meaning they may not be legally exported.  This is a strict liability offence and an infringement notice may be issued in lieu of prosecution.

What information is needed to complete an export declaration?

 An export declaration form must include:

* who is exporting the goods and who will be receiving them

* what the goods are

* which country they are being exported to

* the origin of the goods

* when they are to be exported, and

* how they are to be exported

This information can be found within various commercial documents. (See 'What are commercial documents and records?)

Where can I get information to help me correctly classify my export goods?

 The AHECC is the key document for classifying goods for export and is available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) website at www.abs.gov.au or you can contact Customs in the following ways:

* Customs Cargo Information Centre on 1300 558 099 or email cargosupport@customs.gov.au

* by email to the Customs AHECC advisory service at aheccadvice@customs.gov.au

* fax a request for an export classification to Customs on 02 833 96711 (Customs ACN 2002/27 outlines the service offered by the tarrif Branch)

Do goods have to be reported if no export declaration is required?

To maintain border controls, Customs must be advised of all goods being exported from Australia.  If your consignment does not require an export declaration, your goods must still be reported to Customs on an outward manifest or a sub-manifest by your service provider.  As an exporter you will need to ensure your service provider has sufficient information about the consignment to correctly report the goods.

If you currently consolidate exempt cargo such as personal effects or household goods, you are still required to create a sub-manifest detailing each exempt line of cargo.  For example, if a container is packed with two consignments of personal effects, then a sub-manifest for that container quoting two exempt lines would be required.

Do all export goods come under Customs Control?

Yes.  All goods for export come under Customs Control when they are brought to a Customs Controlled area such as a wharf, airport or depot.

How does customs deal with Non-Compliance?

Customs is less likely to intervene in your business practices (conducting audits) if your practices are compliant with Customs related law.  Customs works with industry to improve compliance levels and foster an environment of co-operation.

Customs response to non-compliant activity is determined by the extent and nature of the non-compliance and is in line with the sanctions set out in the law.  Responses could include:

* client education visits

* key performance monitoring programs

* imposition of stricter license provisions and / or movement permissions

* increased frequent transaction checks

* increased frequent and/ or extensive examinations

* warnings

* discussions with company managment

* increased extensive and/ or focussed audit activity

* restricting cargo release, or

* imposition of sanctions.

 What are customs monitoring powers?

Authorised Customsofficedrs may use monitoring powers for the purpose of assessing:

*  whether a person's record keeping, accounting, computing or other operating systems accurately record and generate information to enable compliance with customs-related law

* the correctness of information communicated by a person to Customs (whether documentary or other form).

Monitoring powers can be used with consent or under a montioring warrant, allowing Customs to:

* search premises

* take photographs (including video recordings) or make sketches of premise or anything at the premises

* inspect, examine, count, measure, weigh, gauge, test or analyse or take samples of anything in or on the premises

* take extracts from, or make copies of, any document or record in or on the premises

* take ino or onto the premises any equipment or material reasonably necessary for the purpose of excercising the above powers

* test and operate record keeping, accounting, computing or other operating systems relevant to Customs

* Operate equipment at premises for specified reasons

* operate facilities at premise for specified purposes

* secure an item that is beleived o reasonable grounds to be evidence of the commission of an offence.  The item can be secured for 72 hours or until a warrant is obtained to seize the item - whichever expires first.

When may customs enter my premises an exercise monitoring powers?

Only a Customs officer with an identity card, identifying him or her as a monitoring officer, may exercise monitoring powers at your premises.  A monitoring officer must obtain written consent from the occurpier and produce their identity card before entering the premises and exercising monitoring powers.  The occurpier of the premises includes a person in charge of the premises and is likely to be the most senior person present.  the occupier may withdraw consent in writing at anytime and the Customs officer/s must leave the premises.

The occupier can refuse to give consent or only give consent for Customs to enter at a particular time.   For example if you are in the middle of a stocktake you may ask Customs to return later that day or at a more convenient time.  If customs feels it's ncecessary to enter your premises without your consent, Customs can seek a monitoring warrant.

If occupiers give consent for a monitoring officer to enter the premises, they are not obliged to answer questions or assist the officer.  However, if an opfficer enters premises under a monitoring warrant, the occupier is obliged to answer qwuestions and provide reasonable assistance to the officer.  Failure to comply with a Customs officer is an offence which could result in prosecution or penalty.  An occupier can refuse to answer questions by exercising their rights under the privilege against self-incrimination.

Customs has a separate right of entry to certain premises, such as under the conditions of a depot or warehouse license.

 What are Export Examination Powers?

With consent, authorised officers may enter various premises to examine goods intended for export, before they are brought to the wharf or airport.  This could include premises of growers, producers, and manufacturers.

Under these powers authorised officers are allowed to:

* examine export goods and take samples

* search premises for export goods and documents relating to them

* examine, take extracts and make copies of documents relating to export goods

* ask the occupier questions about the export goods and to produce documents relating to the exportgoods

* bring equipment to the premises

Export examination powers allow goods to be examined before they are packaged for export to remove some of the difficulties and time contrainsts of examing goods at the wharf.  Authorised offiers use these powers to assist exporters to comply with reporting requirements and to assess whether legal export requirement are being met.

How will I know if Customs is excercising export examination powers?

An authorised officer will seek your written consent to enter your premises to examine the export goods and related documents in or on your premises.

What are commercial documents and records?

Commercial documents, or customs purposes, are prepared in the ordinary course of business relating to a commercial transaction involving goods or their carriage.  This could include an invoice and a bill of lading.

When information is communicated to Customs, the document or recording system (computer database, accounting ledger, record of conversation, email) from which the information is taken is considered a record for Customs purposes.  Whatever the type of record kept, it must be capable of verifying the contents of your communications with Customs.


How long do I need to Keep Commercial Documents?

Exporters are required to eep all commercial documents for five years from the time the goods are exported.

How and where should I keep my documents and records?

You may keep documents and records in Australia and overseas.  They may be kept in any form or stored in any manner, including electronically, but the information in the record must be able to be readily produced in English.

When will customs need to see my commercial documents or records?

Customs may require access to documents or records at various times, including:

* before the goods are brought to the wharf or airport for export (excercising export examination powers with your consent at your premises)

* after the goods are entered for export but prior to granting an authority to deal, to verify prticulars of the declaration

* after an authority to deal is granted and piror to exportation, to ensure compliance with Customs-related law

* at any other time when Customs might require you to produce documents or record at a nominated place in Australia on a minimum of 14 days notice (under document and record production provisions).

The infringement notice scheme does not apply to the requirements for you to keep documents and records.  However, you might be prosecuted for failing to keep documents and records or failing to produce them when requested.  The maximum penalty is AUD $3000 or 30 pnealty units (A$110 per unit)..

What is the infringement notice Scheme?

This scheme is a method for dealing with non-compliance and is the third level of the 'three levels' penalty regime in the Act.  The othe two levels are fault based offences and strict liability offences outside of the scheme, which can only be dealt with by prosecution.  The scheme offers an alternative to prosecution in the first instance for the strict liability offences to which it applies.

A strict liability offence is an offence where the fault element (intent, recklessness, knowledge) does not need to be proven.  The Act specifically states when an offence is one of strict liability.

What offences could the infringement notice scheme apply to?

There are 30 offense subject to the INS which are listed in setion 243X of the Act.  These relate to:

* false or misleading statements

* unauthorised movement, alterastion or interference with gods

* loading goods for export without an authority to deal

* failure to meet reporting requirements for the arrival or departure of a ship/aircraft

* movement, entering, reporting and handling of goods for export

* movement, entering, reporting and handling of goods for import.

Will all non-compliance result in the issue of an infringement notice?

Customs is under no obligation to issue a notice for every single offence and may choose to go straight to prosecution. A delegate of the CEO of Customs will consider each case individually, based on the guidelines tabled in Parliament before deciding whether an infringement notice should be issued.  These guidelines are available on the Customs Website at www.customs.gov.au

 Could you give examples of what might lead to an infringement notice?

1. An exporter does not have sufficient details to create and lodge and export declaration for export goods.  As time is running out to get the goods onto the aircraft, the exporter incorrectly reports the goods as having a value of less than AUD$2000 to get thm on board the asircraft as exempt goods.  This would be an offence under subsection 113(1) of the Act in that the exporter of goods intended for exportation did not ensure the goods were entered for export.  If an infringement notice was issued for this offence, the penalty imposed would be AUD$1100 or 10 penalty units.

2. An exporter with a limited product range clones export declarations - copying the data from the previous export declaration as quick method of obtaining a clear Export Declaration Number (EDN). The exporter fails to correct any details that may have changed since the previous exportation, resulting in a range of errors in the declaration.  This would be an offence under the Act, with the exporter making false or misleading statements to Customs not resulting in loss of duty.  An infringement notice issued for this would impose a penalty of A$55 or half penalty uni for each material error, up to a maximum AUD$1100 or 10 penalty units.

Who is liable for the offence?

Liability of individual employees will be determined on the circumstances of each case.  This will depend on the type of offence.  For example, if te offence relates to:

* failing to enter the goods for export, or allowing goods to be exported without an authority to deal (a clear EDN).  The notice is served on the owner of the goods.  The 'owner' is broadly defined by the Act.

* The unauthorised movement of goods.  The notice cold be served to the person who moved the goods, the person's employer on whose behalf the goods were moved, or another person who directed or permitted the movement, depending on the circumstances of the case.

* The making of a false or misleading statement not resulting in loss of duty.  The notice is served on the person who made, or caused to be made, the statement or omitted or caused to be omitted, the matter or thing.

* Where an employee is acting in good faith on behalf of the company in the course of their employment, the company would be liable.

Who will be served the infringement notice?

The notice will be served to the person who committed the offence.  Depending on the circumstances, the 'person' who commits the offence could be either an individual or a body corporate.

Ordinarily, a notice will be served by registered mail addressed to a compnay at its registered office or to an individual at a residential address.

What are penalty units?

Each offence under the Act has a maximum penalty attached.  This is usually expressed in terms of penalty units, each unit representing a dollar amount.  Each unit is AUD$110.  The number of penalty units for a particular offence is multiplied by A$110 .  For example, 30 Penalty unit equates to AUD$3300 (30 penalty units x A$110).

What penalty will be incurred if I recewive an infringement notice?

If customs decides to use an infringement notice instead of prosecution, the penalty is generally only one fifth (20 per cent) of the maximum amount specified for the offence.

Can the infringement notice be withdrawn?

You may write to the Customs CEO seeking a withdrawal of the infringement notice.  You should state your reasons for withdrawal and provide supporting evidence.  A customs delegate will consider each case on its merits and will advise you in writing of his or her decision.

What if the infringement notice is not withdrawn and I still disagree?

There is no provision for the review of a decision not to withdraw an infringement notice.  You may choose not to pay the penalty set out in the notice and defend a prosecution for the alleged offence brought by Customs in court.  On conviction, it would be open to the court to impose a penalty up to the maximum stated for an offence (the court is not limited to the penalty specified on the infringement notice).

What othe offences are in effect?

Other offences include failure to:

* Keep documents or records as required

* answer questions when an officer is exercising a monitoring warrant

* produce documents and records

* assist a monitoring officer exercising a monitoring warrant, when required

The infringement notice scheme does not apply to these offences.

Where can I get more information?

You can call the Customs Cargo Support Helpdesk on 1300 558 099 or visit the Customs Website at www.customs.gov.au

 Information booklet written by the Australian Government, Australian Customs Service, printed September 2007