Clearing goods through the border

You need to know that:

  • For goods imported through air or sea cargo or international mail that are worth equal to or less then AUD 1000, there are no duties, taxes or charges to pay.
  • For goods that are worth more than AUD 1000, you will need to fill out a special form called an Import Declaration, and pay duties, taxes and charges.
  • You will need to pay duties and taxes on some goods (like tobacco or alcohol) regardless of their value.
  • Certain types of goods are not allowed to be brought into Australia, or need special permits.
  • First-time or infrequent importers are strongly encouraged to use the services of a customs broker to clear their goods through customs.

Note: Goods imported by travellers (arriving by air or sea) are treated differently. For more information on goods imported by air or sea travellers see Duty free concessions.

What can be imported

To find out more about what you can and cannot bring into Australia, see Prohibited and restricted goods.

We can screen, x-ray or examine the goods to make sure the goods are allowed into Australia. The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources might also need to inspect and clear your goods before they can be released.


How much the goods are worth, and how they arrive in Australia, will determine how we clear them and what duty, taxes and charges might apply.

Goods with a value of AUD 1000 or less

You do not have to pay duty and taxes on goods (excluding tobacco, tobacco products and alcoholic beverages) with a value of AUD 1000 or less. These are called low value imports.

If these goods arrive in Australia by air or sea cargo, they must have a Self-Assessed Clearance (SAC) declaration. This will generally be taken care of by the cargo company or freight forwarder. We do not charge for this declaration.

Goods arriving by international mail do not require a SAC declaration.

For more information, see:

Goods with a value of more than AUD 1000

To import goods with a value over AUD 1000, you need to make an Import Declaration. The Import Declaration provides information about the goods you are importing.

There is a processing charge for making an Import Declaration. You will also be required to pay the duty and taxes for your goods.

You can use the services of a licensed customs broker to help you import your goods.

For more information about:

First-time or infrequent importers

First time or infrequent importers are strongly encouraged to use the services of a licensed customs broker.

Licensed customs brokers can complete the Import Declaration for you and submit it to us electronically through the Integrated Cargo System. They can also help you with other tasks you need to do when importing goods.

Licensed customs brokers charge for the services they provide, though they also have access to lower processing fees because of their online connection to us. To find a licensed customs broker, search online or in your local Yellow Pages. Customs brokers are licensed by us.

If you want to clear the goods yourself, we will provide limited assistance to first-time importers only. You will need:

  • an invoice
  • a bill of lading or air waybill
  • other papers, such as packing list and insurance documents, as required.

The Documentary Import Declaration Comprehensive Guide provides information on how to complete an Import Declaration.