HomeNews & FeaturesUltimate Guide: Customs Charges on Overseas Orders

Ultimate Guide: Customs Charges on Overseas Orders

This article first appeared in The Ultimate Guide: Shopping for Bicycles and Gear Online. The comprehensive publication covered trends and analysis of the Australian cycling marketplace and was based on the results of an extensive survey of Australian cyclists as well as expert input.

With the growth of online sales, consumers who purchase goods online from overseas may be subject to tax, duty and processing fees which are typically managed by the shipping company – before receiving the delivery the costs first need to be settled.


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.


Import Duty, Fees and Tax Example

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 multiple 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. In 2018, the exemption of e-bike was revoked so e-bikes imports now are completed taxed.

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. For single-bikes (in contrast to an import of a complete container of bicycler), the shipping companies however may not process the ‘exemption’.


Useful Australian Customs resources

From Customs Australia, there are a number of resources available for more detailed information.
The start page for overseas imports is: www.border.gov.au/Busi/cargo-support-trade-and-goods/importing-goods


Following are a list of previously available documents as a reference – most of this content is still available however has been modified or updated  and is easily accessible on the Customs Australia website.

Original List of (now expired) useful Customs resources:
• General FAQs on Customs in Australia (PDF)
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)


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

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