How to import

​​​​​​​​​​​Declarations for imported goods

Declarations are used by importers, or licensed customs brokers acting on their behalf, to clear imported goods from customs control into:

  • the commerce of Australia/home consumption - via an Import Declaration or Self-Assessed Clearance Declaration, or 

  • a licensed warehouse - via a Warehouse Declaration.

All goods imported into Australia are liable for duties and taxes unless an exemption or concession applies. There are exclusions and restrictions to the use of the concessions. Refer to the Current tariff classification.

For most goods with a value of AUD1,000 or less there are no duties, taxes or charges to pay. You must pay duties and taxes on some goods (like tobacco, tobacco products or alcoholic beverages) regardless of their value.

For goods with a value over AUD1,000 you must pay all relevant duties, taxes and other charges, including an import processing charge.

We encourage first-time or infrequent importers to use a licensed customs broker to clear their goods.

Declarations for imported goods are:

  • Import Declarations (N10)

  • Self-Assessed Clearance (SAC) Declaration

  • Warehouse Declarations (N20)

Import Declaration (N10)

You must complete an Import Declaration when imported goods (a consignment):

  • have a combined value of over AUD1,000; and 

  • are being cleared into home consumption.

You must pay all applicable duties, taxes and charges before the goods can be released.

An Import Declaration is a statement made by the importer (owner of the goods), or their agent (licensed customs broker) about:

  • the goods being imported

  • details on the importer

  • how the goods are being transported; and

  • the tariff classification and customs value.

Import Declarations may be:

You must complete a B650 if:

  • your goods are arriving by air or sea cargo; and

  • you are lodging an Import Declaration document at an ABF counter

You must complete a B374 if your goods are arriving by international mail.

You, as the importer, are responsible for completing and submitting the Import Declaration.

The ABF can not complete the Import Declaration for you. We will only give general advice on how to complete an Import Declaration.

Self-Assessed Clearance (SAC) Declaration

You must lodge a Self-Assessed Clearance (SAC) Declaration if your imported goods:

  • ​​arrive by air or sea cargo; and 

  • have a value equal to or less than AUD1,000.

You cannot use a SAC Declaration if your goods arrive:

  • through international mail; or

  • under a carnet.

There are three types of SAC Declarations:

If your goods need a permit to be imported, you must use either an Import Declaration (N10) or a long format SAC Declaration.

You can only submit SAC Declarations in the Integrated Cargo System (ICS). 

SAC Declarations can be submitted by:

  • a cargo reporter

  • a licensed customs broker; or 

  • other person with access to the system. 

Importers can apply to access the ICS, however there are costs involved. 

If you use SAC Declarations incorrectly, you may not meet import requirements such as:

  • paying duties, taxes and charges

  • permits for restricted goods

  • biosecurity.

Importers may face financial penalties or legal action if they do not pay the correct duties and taxes. If you are unsure of your legal obligations when making a SAC Declaration, the ABF recommends the use of a licensed customs broker​.

Cargo Report SAC Declaration

Cargo reporters are responsible for reporting cargo to the ABF before it arrives in Australia. When a cargo reporter completes a cargo report, they can make a Cargo Report SAC Declaration for goods with a value of AUD1,000 or less. If the cargo reporter makes a Cargo Report SAC Declaration, the owner of the goods does not need to submit a separate declaration.

To make a Cargo Report SAC Declaration, the cargo reporter must be able to declare that:

  • the value of the goods is AUD1,000 or less

  • the description of the goods does not include a word in the SAC Thesaurus​; or, if it do​es, the goods are not alcohol, tobacco or subject to a restriction or permission under Commonwealth law; and

  • the goods are not being referred to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF).

If the ca​rgo reporter cannot agree with certainty to these statements, the ​cargo reporter cannot declare the goods on a Cargo Report SAC Declaration. The importer must declare the goods separately on a short or long format SAC Declaration.

While most SAC Declarations are submitted with the cargo report, not all cargo reporters make Cargo Report SAC declarations.  If your carrier or freight forwarder has not made a Cargo Report SAC Declaration on your behalf, they should tell you that you must lodge your own SAC Declaration.

SAC Thesaurus

The SAC Thesaurus refers to a list of words, terms and descriptions that the cargo reporter must cross-check against the description of the goods. The cargo reporter cannot make a Cargo Report SAC Declaration if the description of the goods includes a word in the SAC Thesaurus. The SAC Thesaurus is available on the ABF website​.

Short format SAC

An importer may make a short format SAC Declaration, which requests minimal information. Goods with a value of AUD1,000 or less are free of duty and GST, except tobacco, tobacco products or alcoholic beverages. You can use a short format SAC Declaration to pay duty and GST on tobacco, tobacco products and alcoholic beverages.

Anyone that has a digital certificate and is registered in the ICS can make short format SAC Declarations. This includes the importer, SAC declaration service providers, or licenced customs brokers.

You can find a SAC declaration service provider through an internet search or in the local telephone directory. The ABF maintains a list of customs brokers.

Information Required

You need to provide the following information to make a short format SAC Declaration:

  • the importer's information (e.g. company name, ABN etc.);

  • a description of the goods; and 

  • information to link the SAC Declaration to the cargo report. 

The information required is outlined in the relevant Approved Statement

More information may be required if:

  • the goods include alcohol or tobacco products;

  • an importer (or agent) wishes to refer the goods to DAFF; or

  • the importation of the goods is subject to a restriction or condition under an Australian law.

Alcohol and Tobacco Products

If your goods include tobacco, tobacco products or alcoholic beverages, you must provide information so that duty and taxes can be calculated. This includes:

  • tariff classification

  • quantity

  • value; and

  • transport and insurance costs.

These goods cannot be released without payment of duty and taxes.​

Prohibited and Restricted Goods

You must provide more information if the goods are:

  • prohibited or restricted imports or you wish to refer the goods to ABF for assessment of prohibited or restricted status; or

  • being referred to DAFF.

If either of the above apply, you must provide more information to the ABF including:

  • a reason for referral; and

  • a quarantine inspection location (if there are quarantine considerations).

If you import prohibited and restricted goods, you must get permission from the relevant government department or agency. You must provide proof of this permission to the ABF.

Long format SAC

A long format SAC Declaration is similar to an Import Declaration (N10), however the import processing charge is not applied to a long format SAC Declaration.

Your goods may be cleared more quickly if you lodge a long format SAC Declaration where:

  • a duty exemption or concession applies

  • a permit or approval is required; or

  • duty and taxes are payable because the goods are part of a larger consignment, or because of other commercial reasons.

Only the importer or a licenced customs broker​ can lodge a long format SAC Declaration.

Warehouse Declaration (N20)

You need to lodge a Warehouse Declaration (N20) if:

  • you intend to warehouse your imported goods in a customs licensed warehouse before clearing them from customs control; and 

  • they have a value of more than AUD1,000.

Tobacco can not be entered into a warehouse. You cannot warehouse goods with a value of AUD1,000 or less.

You can lodge a Warehouse Declaration in person or submit it in the ICS.

Goods entered on a Warehouse Declaration may be held indefinitely at a warehouse without payment of any duties and taxes, until either:

Lodge an Import Declaration or a Warehouse Declaration in person

You must bring the following documents to lodge an Import Declaration or a Warehouse Declaration in person:

  • bill of lading or air waybill

  • commercial documents (invoices)

  • evidence of your identity

  • permits or approvals for the goods

  • any other relevant documents.

More information on evidence of identity requirements to lodge an Import Declaration and use of couriers to lodge documents can be found in Evidence of identity for documentary (paper) transactions.

Amendments or withdrawals to an Import Declaration can be sent to the office where the Import Declaration was originally lodged, or you can email to postimportsnsw@abf.gov.au.

Amendments or withdrawals are also accepted at ABF counters.

We may ask you questions about community protection concerns, restrictions and permits, or for more information about your Import Declaration.

If asked, you must provide your answer to us in writing, in the ICS, or at an ABF counter.

After you (or a customs broker on your behalf) make an Import Declaration, you must keep all relevant documents for five years.​