Trade and goods compliance

​​Industry engagement

We recognise that effective partnerships with industry are critical to achieving our mission of protecting Australia’s border and managing the movement of people and goods across it.

We are committed to working with industry to identify and address compliance issues. Increased compliance facilitates legitimate trade, ensures a level playing field for industry and contributes to the protection of Australia’s border.

We provide regular updates to industry on our compliance areas of focus through this website, the Goods Compliance Update and Continuing Professional Development programmes.

In line with the Industry Engagement Strategy 2020 – Trade, Customs and Traveller, our approach to trade and goods compliance focuses on improving voluntary compliance by working with industry. The Australian Border Force has established the Compliance Advisory Group as a collaborative forum with industry to co-design solutions for trade and goods compliance issues. 

For more information, refer to our Approach to Trade and Goods Compliance and ABF 2020 (2MB PDF) documents. These documents replace the former Australian Customs Service’s Regulatory Philosophy.

Compliance focus

We are collaborating with industry to achieve improved compliance with the following:

  • Cargo reporting
  • Self-Assessed Clearance declarations and the Unaccompanied Personal Effects concession
  • Tariff Concession Orders
  • Valuation of imported goods
  • Aircraft parts, materials and test equipment – item 34 of Schedule 4 of the Customs Tariff Act 1995

Cargo reporting

We are focusing on improving compliance with cargo reporting requirements, particularly in relation to cargo reporting timeliness and the provision of deficient information in cargo reports.

Cargo reporting timeliness

Cargo reports must be lodged within the timeframes specified in section 64AB of the Customs Act 1901 (the Act) and section 18 and 19 of theCustoms Regulation 2015 (the Regulation):

  • Air cargo reports must be lodged at least two hours prior to the estimated time of arrival specified in the impending arrival report.
  • Sea cargo reports must be lodged at least 48 hours prior to the estimated time of arrival of the vessel at the first Australian port, or for voyages less than 96 hours, as defined in the Regulation.

The provision of deficient information in cargo reports

Deficient information within a cargo report includes a consignee or consignor name or address, or goods description that provides us with minimal or no information about the cargo for risk assessment. Examples include 'goods', 'unknown' and 'shipment'. The use of deficient information might not comply with cargo reporting obligations.

Information provided on a cargo report should align with the approved statements for air and sea cargo reports authorised under subsection 64AB (4B) of the Act.

For more information see: Cargo reporting compliance.

Self-Assessed Clearance declarations and the Unaccompanied Personal Effects concession

Incorrectly using Self-Assessed Clearance declarations and the Unaccompanied Personal Effects concession can result in the non-payment of customs duty, taxes and charges and in not meeting other import requirements (that is, permits for restricted goods and quarantine requirements). Non-payment of duty and/or taxes is an offence and can result in the application of financial penalties or legal action.

Tariff Concession Orders

We will grant a Tariff Concession Order on imported goods if substitutable goods are not produced in Australia. If granted, the Tariff Concession Order allows duty free entry of the product into Australia.

We acknowledge that the interpretation of Tariff Concession Orders is an area of concern for industry. We are working with industry to ensure that our requirements relating to the tariff classification of goods are clear and that industry can improve its compliance.

For more information see: Compliance with Tariff Concession Orders.

Valuation of imported goods

The undervaluation of customs value is a key area of compliance focus. This includes a focus on the failure to include production assist costs in the customs value. Undervaluation of goods imported into Australia impacts on government revenue and creates an uneven playing field for entities operating in the trading environment.

All goods imported into Australia must be declared and assigned a customs value. To avoid non-compliance it is important that importers, working with their broker, ensure that any of the following price related costs incurred by the purchaser before the goods leave the ‘place of export’ are included in the customs value, including:

  • production assists costs
  • foreign inland freight and foreign inland insurance
  • packing costs
  • commissions
  • all royalties or licence fees and proceeds of subsequent resale. 

For more information see:

Aircraft parts, materials and test equipment – item 34 of Schedule 4 of the Customs Tariff Act 1995

Item 34 was introduced to develop and maintain the international competitiveness of Australia’s aerospace industry through duty free access to specialised parts, items of equipment and materials for use in the manufacture, repair, maintenance or modification of aircraft. Additionally, it allows Australian manufacturers to be competitive with overseas manufacturers through reducing the manufacturing costs associated with this industry.

We have encountered instances where the item 34 concession has been applied to goods that are not eligible. Therefore, we are currently reviewing the correct use of item 34 of Schedule 4, as per the below:

  • Aircraft parts, materials or test equipment for use in the manufacture, repair, maintenance or modification of aircraft, except the following:
    • Textiles and goods made from textiles
    • Goods for use in the servicing of aircraft

The incorrect use of this concession might result in the non-payment of duty and GST, and an uneven playing field for industry.

The Guidelines to Schedule 4 provide an explanation of what is required for goods to qualify as aircraft parts, materials and test equipment, and lists various products that do not qualify for the item 34 concession.

Examples of goods that do not qualify under item 34 include but are not limited to:

  • tools (including specialist hand tools), stands, tow bars, hoists and jacks
  • signs, labels, placards, markings and other printed matter
  • textile based goods such as carpets, cushions, brushes, bags, leather goods and other textiles
  • portable fire extinguishers 
  • headsets (including aviator headsets), life jackets and life rafts
  • portable/non-standard aircraft navigation aids and refuelling equipment.

We encourage importers and customs brokers to ensure the item 34 concession has been claimed correctly for eligible goods. If errors or omissions are identified, it is recommended to voluntarily disclose these to ensure minimal disruption to your business and avoid administrative penalties or legal action.

For more information see: Item 34 of Schedule 4 of the Customs Tariff Act 1995 - Aircraft parts, materials and test equipment fact sheet.

Correcting errors made in statements to the Department of Home Affairs

We encourage all importers and customs brokers to be proactive in reviewing your import documents to ensure they are accurate and the correct amount of duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) has been paid. As an importer, you might need to talk to your customs broker about reviewing your imports.

If, in a review of your import documents an error or omission is identified, we encourage you to amend the information as soon as possible. This ensures the correct duty and GST is paid with minimal disruption to your business operations. You will also avoid paying administrative penalties under the Infringements Notice Scheme, ranging upwards from AUD8,100 for businesses.

For more information see voluntary disclosures.

To lodge a voluntary disclosure with the Voluntary Disclosures unit email vdi@abf.gov.au.


The following resources are available to help you comply with your obligations:

Contact us

We welcome any feedback you might have in helping us improve our compliance approach.

If you would like to contact us to discuss these issues, or if you have any questions, email goodscompliance@abf.gov.au