Importing can seem daunting at first because of the many unknown regulations and procedures that importers and their goods need to abide by.
In this article, we will cover every step of importing goods from China to Australia and aim to leave you with a positive attitude towards the whole process as well as with a clear course of action.
1. China To Australia Import Documents
First, we’ll cover the documentation required by Australia’s Customs authorities for importing goods into the country.
A commercial invoice lays out the details of the export transaction as well as the shipping terms: the identities of the importer & exporter, the HS codes and value of the goods, the quantity and weight of the goods, the payment terms, and the total invoice value.
The packing list acts as a checklist for the exporter, Customs, and other involved parties to ensure that a shipment has been packed properly.
It contains details such as: the description, quantity, weight and measurements of the goods, the type of packaging used (e.g. box, carton, vials, etc.), importer and exporter details, the Commercial Invoice number, as well as any relevant shipping marks or seal numbers used.
Certificate of Origin
Besides a commercial invoice and packing list, Australia also require a Certificate of Origin for clearing Customs.
The main role of the Certificate of Origin is to show Customs the origin of both the manufacturing and the shipping of your goods.
Through a Certificate of Origin, Customs are able to determine whether it is legal to import your goods into Australia, and also to determine whether special conditions apply to your tax & duty obligations.
SAC Declaration / Import Declaration
Australian businesses also need to fill in an import declaration when importing goods from China.
Import declarations have the role of informing Customs about the goods being imported, about the importer, about the method of transportation, and about the tariff classification and customs value.
There are two types of import declarations:
1. Self-Assessed Clearance (SAC Declaration) applies to import values at less than AUD1,000
2. N10 Import Declaration applies to imports valued at more than AUD1,00
Australian importers need to submit just the one that applies to them.
For more information about import declarations and instructions on how to submit them, see the Australian Border Force’s instructions.
Packing Declaration (ocean freight only)
The Packing Declaration contains information about the packing materials used in a shipment.
If the packing materials contain wood, straw or bark, they are at risk for developing pests or fungi because of the long transit times of ocean freight.
To prevent this, importers are required to fumigate the packing materials at risk, and present authorities a fumigation certificate on top of the packing declaration.
A packing declaration is required for ocean freight shipments only.
2. Goods That Require Additional Permits When Importing Them From China To Australia
Due to safety standards, there is also special documentation that is required only for certain types of goods posing an increased risk to consumers.
Products to which at least one safety regulation applies include:
• Children's toys
• Health and cosmetics products
• Tobacco and smoking accessories
When importing your products, you have to make sure they comply with all the Australian safety and compliance regulations.
Importing non-compliant products can result not only in the product being recalled from the market, but also in a substantial fine for the importer.
The AS/NZS Standard
Australia and New Zealand also have a regulatory body that oversees product safety regulations in the two countries.
AS/NZS is a set of standards that applies to and regulates all products on the market, and that all products need to comply with if they are to be allowed on the market.
It covers industrial safety, testing as well as material and performance requirements.
Which AS/NZS Standards Apply To My Products?
The standards that apply to all product classes can be found on the Product Safety Australia government website.
Search for the specific product you are looking to import and you will find all the applicable regulations.
When finding your product’s requirements, check in with your manufacturer and make sure their products are compliant with all the Australian regulations.
There are also certain products that cannot legally be imported into Australia.
For a full list of prohibited products, view the official list from the Australian Border Force.
Make sure to check that your product doesn’t fall in the prohibited goods category, otherwise they are at risk of being confiscated by Customs authorities.
3. China To Australia Import Charges, Duties, and Taxes
When importing your goods from China to Australia, or any country for that matter, you will be subject to import taxes, duties, and other charges.
Let’s look at all the existing types of import tariffs and find out which might apply to you.
Import Processing Charge
The Australian Border Force applies a fixed processing charge on each import.
The value is based on your shipment’s Customs Value (the total value of all items in your shipment), as follows:
• For Customs Values between AUD1,000 and AUD10,000, the import processing charge is AUD90 for manual submission and AUD50 for electronic submission
• For Customs Values between AUD10,00 and AUD10,000, the import processing charge is AUD192 for manual submission and AUD152 for electronic submission
Customs Import Duty
Each shipment imported into Australia also incurs a Customs Duty, which is calculated as a percentage of the shipment’s Customs Value.
The duty rate varies from 0% to 10%, but for most products imported from China to Australia the rate is 5%.
Assuming a rate of 5%, and a Customs Value of AUD10,000, your Customs Duty will cost you AUD500.
In order to find the exact duty rate applicable to your shipment, you will first need to find your product’s HS Code. You can find it yourself following these instructions, or ask your manufacturer for it.
Once you have your product’s HS Code, you can find its applicable duty rate here.
Goods And Services Tax
A Goods And Services Tax (GST) is applied to most products imported to Australia, and it is mandatory regardless of whether you are GST-registered or not.
Taxable Importation is defined as the sum of:
• The Customs Value of the shipment
• Any customs duty payable
• The cost of insuring the goods and transporting them to Australia
• Customs Value = AUD15,000
• Customs Duty = 5% * AUD15,000 = AUD750
• Shipping = AUD800
• Insurance = AUD25
Taxable Importation = 15,000 + 750 + 800 + 25 = AUD16,575
Goods And Service Tax (GST) = 10% * 16,575 = AUD1657.5
Other Notes And Tips
• You need to have an Australian Business Number in order to claim tax credits and defer tax payments. Contact your taxation office for more information.
• Some imports are eligible for concessions, in the case where there are no known Australian manufacturers for the specific products you are importing. Find out if you qualify here
• Check if anti-dumping (goods imported to Australia are at a lower price than charged in the manufacturing country) duties will apply to your import. Found out more here.
4. China To Australia Labelling Requirements
Certain goods must be correctly labelled with a trade description before they can be imported into Australia.
A trade description means any description or statement as to the how or by whom the goods were made, produced, selected, packed or otherwise prepared.
The trade description must:
• Be in the English language
• include the country where the goods were manufactured
• include a correct and accurate description of the goods
Not all imported goods need labelling. See the complete list of goods that require labelling from the Australian Border Force.
If your goods are not properly labelled, and especially if your goods have a false or misleading trade description, they are at risk of being seized by the Australian Customs.
Make sure your manufacturer is knowledgeable about the labelling requirements that apply to Australia specifically so that your products and packaging are fully compliant with the regulations.
Faced with all these regulations and legislation, you might feel it’s easier to let your supplier take care of the entire importing process.
However, you will be missing out on the much better option of working with a freight forwarder.
A good freight forwarder can save you up to 40% on shipping costs, take care of the entire importing process for you, and provide much better customer service.
At Bookairfreight, we specialize in importing goods from China to Australia and have in-depth knowledge of the market as well as numerous partners in Australian ports and airports.
Let us take care of everything and receive your first shipment with ease. Get a free instant quote.
Local Digital Marketing manager and content creator at Bookairfreight. I am someone who loves literature, but here to simplify interesting topics within the logistics industry that are easy to digest.