Ultimate Guide: Customs charges on overseas orders

The Ultimate Guide: Shopping for bicycles and gear online is a multipart report with tips, trends and analysis of the Australian Market. You can download the ebook version. This part looks at customs charges on overseas orders.

Customs charges on overseas orders
For items purchased on the internet and valued at more than AUD $1,000 (including shipping costs), Customs Australia consider the items to be “imported” and customs duty and GST are levied in addition to a processing fee. Unless the item is being delivered by a courier (in which a clearing agent may take care of Customs clearance), you will be notified by Customs in writing that your delivery is being held and that you are required to complete an N10 Declaration Form.

When lodging the form you need to provide Evidence of Identity (EOI) which involves faxing or posting copies of your personal documents (e.g. passport and drivers licence). If you choose to process your deliveries with Customs via the internet, you will need to additionally register for ICS (Integrated Cargo System). ICS can be convenient when regularly purchasing high valued goods from overseas.

The following example shows the breakdown of Customs duty, fees and tax:

Term Abbr. Example
Customs Value (Total cost of goods) Cval $1,200
Customs Duty (5% of Cval) Duty $60
International transport and insurance or postage T&I $150
Value of the Taxable Importation (Cval+Duty+T&I) VoTi $1,410
Goods and Services Tax (10% of VoTI) GST $141
Total payable Duty + GST   $201
Customs Processing fee (manual)   $48.85
Total amount due $249.85

If customs detect a number of deliveries from the same retailer to the same address, then the order values may be combined and GST and Duty is applied to the total value.

For air freight deliveries, the customs processing fee is $40.20 for each electronic declaration (over ICS) or $48.85 for forms that are ‘manually submitted’.

Once payment has been made, the goods will be released and delivered by Australia post (or a courier if applicable). If your item is being delivered by a courier and a clearing agent has ‘cleared customs’ on your behalf, additional fees will usually be added.

Tip: For larger purchases, inquire in advance with the retailer regarding delivery process to ensure that you have factored in all charges.

To make Customs clearance more complicated, certain items are exempt from duty (although GST is still applicable). These include wheels with certain diameters and complete bicycles. Under Tariff Concession 0104891 (Tariff Code: 8712.00.00), duty is not charged for complete bicycles.

Under the Free Trade Agreement, items manufactured in (and delivered from) the US, Thailand and New Zealand are exempt from Customs duty or receive preferential rates of duty.

While the documentation regarding exemptions and duty free (bicycling) items is difficult to decipher, Australian Customs have a good reputation for providing helpful and reliable support via telephone. The phone number for your local Customs office will be included in the documentation you receive when Customs duty is applicable.

If you have paid duty, but qualify for an exemption, you can apply for a refund later. Should you wish to purchase a complete bicycle (or other exempt items) from overseas, it is easier check with the retailer before purchasing to ensure that the relevant reference information is included with the delivery so that customs clearance is faster.

Useful Australian Customs resources for overseas purchases

From Customs Australia, there are a number of resources available for more detailed information, here are links to pages and PDFs.

Update – All of the following resources / links from Customs Australia have expired. The new general start page for imports is: www.border.gov.au/Busi/Impo

General FAQs on Customs in Australia (PDF) Link Expired and removed
Buying over the Internet
Importing goods per post
Help in filling out N10 form (PDF)
Paying Customs
Customs Processing Charges (PDF)
Exemptions (PDF)
(page 8, item 8712.00.00)
US Free Trade exemptions
Refund Application (PDF)

This is article is from The Ultimate Guide: Shopping for bicycles and gear online. You can download the entire ebook (free) from here.

You can discuss this article and the ebook in the Australian Cycling Forums.

Alternative Text
About The Author

Christopher Jones is a recreational cyclist and runs a professional design business, Signale. As the driving force behind Bicycles.net.au he has one of each 'types' of bicycles.

One response to “Ultimate Guide: Customs charges on overseas orders”

  1. […] The current list price of the Boardman SLR 9.0 is $2430 while shipping starts from $152.98 for delivery to Australia. As an imported item valued at over $1000, you will also have a customs charge made up of Duty, GST and a customs processing fee. This adds circa $480.80 which is payable to customs before the bike is released and means total ‘landed’ cost of around $3020. As a note, because this is an exported item, the 20% English VAT is not applied. For further details and variations surrounding customs processes and charges, here is a useful resource. […]