Temporary importations

Certain goods may be temporarily imported into Australia for a period of up to 12 months without the payment of duty or taxes provided certain conditions are met.

The nature of the goods, what they will be used for while they are in Australia and who is importing the goods will determine whether the goods will qualify.

Goods that qualify as temporary imports may be imported either:

  • under carnet – where a security is lodged with an overseas carnet-issuing body
  • under security – where a security is lodged with us at the time of import.

There are two sections of the Customs Act 1901 (the Act) under which temporary importation may be granted.

Section 162 of the Act allows for the temporary importation of certain classes of goods including:

  • the property of a tourist or temporary resident
  • specialised equipment or tools to be used in exploration, production, manufacture, repair or modifications that are covered by an intergovernmental agreement (convention)
  • goods imported for use at a public exhibition or entertainment
  • testing or evaluation equipment (goods that will be used to test and evaluate the operation of other goods)
  • goods that require testing and/or evaluation within Australia.

Section 162A of the Act allows for the temporary importation of goods in line with intergovernmental agreements and conventions to which Australia is a signatory. These goods include:

  • private touring vehicles
  • commercial samples
  • professional equipment
  • scientific equipment
  • goods imported for display or use at events, fairs and exhibitions.

Temporary importation conditions

Importers bringing goods to Australia as a temporary importation must:

  • export the goods within the time limit approved
  • not sell, loan, mortgage, hire, give away, dispose of or alter in anyway without permission from us.

If you do not meet the above conditions, you must pay an amount equal to the duty and taxes that would have been payable if the goods had not been treated as temporary imports.

Carnets

Goods that qualify for temporary importation under section 162A of the Act may be imported using a carnet instead of an import declaration. A carnet is an international 'passport for goods' under which the payment of duties and taxes is guaranteed by an overseas issuing body. The use of a carnet to cover the temporary importation of goods simplifies and speeds up the clearance process.

Carnet goods must be eligible under one of the international temporary import conventions to which Australia is a signatory.  All carnets must be obtained before coming to Australia and are valid for 12 months from the date of issue. Your goods must be exported before the carnet expires.

There are two types of carnets:

  • Carnet de Passages en Douane (CPD) carnet - covers private touring vehicles
  • Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission (ATA) carnet - covers goods such as commercial samples, professional equipment, scientific equipment and goods for display or use at events, fairs and exhibitions. 

Carnet issuing bodies are typically:

  • automobile associations that are members of the Federations Internationale d'Automobile (FIA) or the Alliance Internationale de Tourisme (AIT) (for private motor vehicles under CPD carnets)
  • chambers of commerce that are members of the World Chambers Federation (WCF) (for general goods under ATA carnets).

What is a CPD carnet?

A CPD carnet is an internationally recognised document for the temporary importation of vehicles for touring purposes. CPD carnets may be used by tourists or temporary residents to temporarily import vehicles to tour Australia. Vehicles imported using a CPD carnet do not need a Vehicle Import Approval from the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities.

If you plan for your vehicle to remain in Australia for more than 12 months, a CPD carnet may not be the right option for you and you may consider other import options. More information on the Vehicle Import Approval process can be found at the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities website.

Eligible vehicles

CPD carnets are accepted for certain types of vehicles including:

  • cars
  • motorcycles
  • campervans
  • sports utility and recreational vehicles
  • caravans and trailers.

CPD carnets are not accepted for:

  • coaches and buses
  • trucks, lorries, prime movers and semi-trailers
  • racing cars and rally vehicles
  • vehicles imported for exhibition, testing or evaluation.

Vehicles temporarily imported into Australia using a CPD carnet must:

  • be exported before the carnet expires
  • not be sold, loaned, mortgaged, hired, given away, disposed of or altered in anyway without permission from us.
  • only be used for private touring.

Applying for a CPD carnet

A CPD carnet can be obtained from automobile associations that are members of the Federation Internationale d'Automobile (FIA) or the Alliance Internationale de Tourisme (AIT). CPD carnets are issued for a fee by motoring associations in your home country. The National Guaranteeing Organisation (NGO) in your home country sets the applicable fee. In Australia, the NGO is the Australian Automobile Association (AAA).

On arrival, you will also be required to ensure registration and insurance requirements are met. Each Australian state and territory road traffic authority has specific registration and insurance requirements for vehicles. More information on registration and insurance requirements can be obtained from the AAA website.

What is an ATA carnet?

An ATA carnet is an internationally recognised document for the temporary importation of eligible goods.

An ATA carnet may be used by a person or organisation specified in line with the relevant convention under which your goods are being temporarily imported. Carnet goods must be eligible under one of the international temporary import conventions to which Australia is a signatory. 

Eligible goods

Eligible goods and/or goods imported for specific purposes that are accepted by an ATA carnet include:

  • commercial samples
  • professional equipment
  • scientific equipment
  • educational (pedagogic) material
  • goods for display or use at events, fairs and exhibitions.

Goods temporarily imported into Australia using an ATA carnet must: 

  • be exported before the carnet expires
  • not be sold, loaned, mortgaged, hired, given away, disposed of or altered in anyway without permission from us
  • only used for the purpose specified in the convention under which the carnet was issued.

Vehicles that are to be used as means of transport (including cars, buses and trucks) cannot be imported using an ATA carnet.

Applying for an ATA carnet

An ATA carnet can be obtained from a Chamber of Commerce that is a member of the World Chambers Federation in your home country for a fee. The National Guaranteeing Organisation (NGO) in your home country sets the applicable fee.

In Australia, the NGO is the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Processing a carnet on importation and exportation

There are two methods for clearing a carnet with us:

  • physically presenting the carnet at a Client Services counter for processing; or
  • providing the required documents through email to receive a pre-arrival clearance for that consignment.

You must present your carnet on arrival into and on departure from Australia. We will often examine goods on both import and export and therefore we must be contacted at importation and before arranging exportation from Australia.

Any permits that would normally be needed for the goods must also be obtained.

In addition to the valid carnet, the following documents must also be provided to us:

  • Bill of Lading or Air Waybill
  • your passport or birth/citizenship certificate
  • overseas registration papers (for a CPD carnet)
  • valid permits (if applicable).

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources biosecurity clearance requirements must also be met before your goods can be released to you.

More information can be found in Fact Sheet - Import Carnet Processing for Industry (117KB PDF)

If a carnet is not appropriate to your circumstances or you do not qualify for these provisions, then temporary importation under a security might be another option.

Securities

Securities can also be used for the temporary importation of goods. A risk based revenue threshold applies to the security or undertaking that might be required. For more information, see Australian Customs Cargo Advice 2012/01.

Goods subject to security that are above the revenue threshold amount will need a documentary security application. One of our officers with the appropriate delegation will decide if the intended use and ownership of the goods satisfies the temporary import requirements. When lodging a security, we might accept an undertaking from a suitable Australian client, usually the importer. In some circumstances, a security in the form of cash or a bank guarantee might be required. The security is an amount equal to the duty and taxes that would have been payable at the time of importation.

Goods that can be imported under security include any goods that might be accepted under section 162 or section 162A of the Act.

If a security or undertaking is required, there are different application forms to be completed depending on the relevant legislation.

For eligible goods temporarily imported under Section 162 of the Customs Act 1901:

For eligible goods temporarily imported under Section 162A of the Customs Act 1901:

Processing securities on importation and exportation

To temporarily import goods using a security, you will also need to lodge an import declaration. Copies of normal commercial import documents such as invoices, packing lists, bills of lading or air waybills, biosecurity certificates and other documents that verify eligibility should be lodged with the application.  Any permits that would normally be required for these goods must also be obtained.

If your goods qualify and if an acceptable security or undertaking has been given to us, we will grant permission for the goods to be delivered.

You must also contact us before arranging export of the goods to verify export and acquit the security.

To discuss eligibility for entry under security you can contact us.

Extensions of carnets and securities

Initial approval for a temporary import can only be granted for a maximum of 12 months and in the case of a carnet no later than the carnet expiry date.  Applications might be made to extend this period but any extensions must be approved before the expiry of the initial approval.

For a security, the Form B257 - Application for Extension of Period of Temporary Importation (762KB PDF) should be sent to National Temporary Imports and Securities (NTIS) at NTIS@abf.gov.au

For a carnet, approval is required from:

  • NTIS
  • The Australian guaranteeing body (Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry or Australian Automobile Association (AAA))
  • The carnet issuing body overseas.

Applications for carnet extensions (including replacement carnets) need to be made to the Australian guaranteeing body on the Form B257 and they will forward their approval to NTIS for consideration. Approval must be obtained from NTIS before expiry of the original carnet. Once a replacement carnet has been received from the issuing body you need to present both the original and replacement carnets and the endorsed B257 to one of our Cargo Clearance counters.

In the case of an extension to a CPD carnet, when the details of the extension have been completed by the guaranteeing body it then needs to be endorsed by one of our officers at a Client Services counter. An extension or a replacement carnet is not valid until it has been endorsed by us at a Client Services counter.

Non-compliance with conditions of temporary import

If the conditions of the temporary importation are not complied with, for example if the goods are not exported within the approved timeframes or are to remain in Australia permanently, then the total amount of the duty and taxes that would have been payable at the time of importation must be paid.

If the conditions of a carnet are not complied with, we will lodge a claim with the Australian carnet guaranteeing body who will claim from the overseas body who issued the carnet. Ultimately the carnet holder will pay.

Temporarily Exporting Australian Goods

Carnets can also be used to export eligible Australian goods. Enquiries on the temporary export of eligible Australian goods should be made to the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) or one of their state representatives (NRMA, RACV, etc.) for private motor vehicles or to the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry for other goods.

Returned Australian Goods

For goods that leave Australia under an Australian issued carnet, we might need export declarations as for other exported goods. When those goods return to Australia, we might need import declarations.

More information

More information about temporary imports can be found in our Frequently asked questions on temporary importation of goods.

Other useful websites include: