Customs declaration when importing & exporting from Australia

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Ensuring a smooth customs declaration and clearance process enables businesses in Australia to quickly seize opportunities worldwide and gain an advantage in the global marketplace. Read on to learn how to leverage DHL Express’s various customs support services to facilitate this and bolster your international market penetration efforts.

From preparing the customs declaration form to determining duties and charges, navigating the stringent and extensive Australian customs regulations can be daunting, especially if you’re new to the import and export procedures. With non-compliance resulting in risks of high costs incurred or even shipment confiscation, partnering with a trusted third-party logistics service in Australia is advantageous in enabling you to avoid shipping complications so you can focus on conquering international markets.

With an in-house customs clearance team in every country where we operate, our team at DHL Express have deep knowledge of local import and export laws, enabling us to clear the customs for clients efficiently. Whether you need help with the ATA carnet or declaring goods at customs when exporting and importing commodities into Australia, you can trust our comprehensive services to deliver a smooth shipping experience.

Export declaration

When exporting goods from Australia, you may wonder: what do I declare and what is not allowed at the Australian customs? Overall, commodities requiring declaration include items that meet the following criteria:

  • Valued above AU$2,000.

  • Requires an export permit, regardless of its value.

  • Has a duty drawback.

  • Has unpaid duty or excise duty.

However, specific goods, such as those temporarily imported under section 162A of the Customs Act 1901, are exempt from the export declaration. Meanwhile, additional written permission and adherence to specific conditions are required to export prohibited goods.

If an export declaration is required, you must lodge one for each consignment of goods, and present supporting documents, such as evidence of identity (EOI) documents. Additionally, it is crucial to note the type of customs declaration you need, as the filing requirements vary.

Import declaration

Except for tobacco, tobacco products, and alcoholic beverages, imports above AU$1,000 are subject to duties, taxes and charges, including an import processing fee, unless exempted by Australia or eligible for concessions. To facilitate the import process, you will have to file for one of the following types of customs declarations:

  1. Import Declarations (N10): This is required when imported goods have a combined value exceeding AU$1,000 and are being cleared for home consumption.

  2. Self-Assessed Clearance (SAC) Declaration: SAC Declarations are used for goods arriving by air or sea cargo with a value equal to or below AU$1,000. This category includes three types of declarations, namely, Cargo Report SAC Declarations, Short format SAC, and Long format SAC, each with specific requirements and purposes.

  3. Warehouse Declaration (N20): This applies if you plan to store imported goods above AU$1,000 (except tobacco) in a customs-licensed warehouse before clearing them from customs control. 

By engaging DHL Express’s customs experts, you can quickly determine the type of import and export declaration you need and benefit from our various forms of customs support services, including:

  • Advisory: Provide guidance on the applicable taxes and duties for your shipment in any destination country, customs restrictions and content classification.

  • Licensing: Handle all necessary permits and licences for customs clearance.

  • Bonded Transit: Delay storage charges for shipments awaiting customs release, as DHL Express covers warehouse bonds across all its facilities.

  • Declaration: Assistance with the submission of an online declaration, enabling your business to avoid incurring extra charges for non-compliance.

Temporary import and export declaration

Selected goods can also be temporarily imported into Australia without incurring customs duty or taxes for up to 12 months via an Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission (ATA) carnet. To be eligible for an ATA carnet, you must check that your commodities comply with one of the international temporary import conventions that Australia has signed.

Carnets can also be used for temporary exports of Australian goods. However, export and import declarations may be required for goods leaving and returning to Australia with an Australian-issued carnet. If you need to import or export commodities temporarily, one of the strengths of engaging DHL Express is that we can also assist with the shipping and paperwork.

Upon your request, we will handle the necessary documentation, including the ATA Carnet, and ensure compliance with the necessary customs clearance procedures for a nominal fee of AU$60 per shipment.

Enjoy a stress-free customs clearance process with DHL Express Australia

With years of experience in the industry, partnering with DHL Express Australia enables you to leverage our rich knowledge of customs laws and global delivery network to bring synergy to your international trade operations.

Open a business account with DHL Express today and entrust us with the complexities of shipping and customs clearance. With our dedicated support, you can devote your attention to expanding your business globally.


Any regulatory information contained herein is for informational purposes only and DHL assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of the information. DHL does not provide specific regulatory or legal advice to the public and you are encouraged to seek your own legal or compliance counsel. 

Frequently asked questions about customs declaration in Australia

Some items prohibited by Australian customs include drugs and narcotics, cultural heritage goods and toxic cosmetic materials. You may refer to the full list of prohibited goods on the Australian Border Force’s (ABF) official website or our detailed guides for more import and export advice.

Yes, a customs declaration form is required for shipments that meet the import and export declaration criteria stipulated by Australia as stated in the above article. If it’s your first time shipping to international markets, you may find this beginner’s guide to customs useful as you fill out the details required in the form.

Failure to declare goods at customs in Australia can lead to serious consequences, such as penalties, fines, the confiscation of goods or even legal prosecution that have financial and reputational implications on your business.