What you need to know about importing and exporting

Importing goods can help your business meet its goals and provide goods to customers that may not be available locally. Exporting can open a business to new markets, spread risk by reducing dependence on the local market and increase your competitiveness.


To ensure your importing is successful, you'll need to be aware of government regulations, including clearance by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) and duty taxes.

Licensing and permits

Whilst there is no general licence required for importing, Australian Customs will need to clear your goods on import. You'll need to know:

  • what import permits, quarantine permits and treatments apply to your specific category and type of imported goods
  • and whether they are subject to mandatory safety or information standards.

If you don't follow the correct steps and regulations, you will risk breaking the law and not receiving your imports.

Australian Customs requirements for imports

All goods imported into Australia must be cleared through the border. DIBP can provide you with information on importing goods, such as import clearance requirements, prohibited goods and import permits.

Depending on the type and value of the goods or products you import, there may be costs involved. These can include clearance fees, customs duty, goods and services tax (GST) and other taxes.

Some goods may carry special restrictions or may even be prohibited from being imported. If your goods contain industrial chemicals like cosmetics, solvents, adhesives, plastics, inks, printing and photocopying chemicals, paints, household cleaning products and toiletries, they will require additional registration.

If your goods also fall under quarantine regulations, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources will need to inspect and possibly treat them.

If you're considering importing goods because you can't find a local supplier, search the Industry Capability Network to see if there is a supplier in Australia.

Find out more on importing


Are you ready to export?

Successful exporting takes careful planning and commitment. You'll need to make sure you meet exporting requirements and regulations and that you have a solid export plan in place.

Understanding and preparing for risks associated with exporting before you get started can be crucial. These risks include foreign exchange, political, shipping, quarantine and legal issues. Integrating risks into your business or export plan can help you mitigate them.

Austrade can help you determine whether your business is ready for export with the International Readiness Indicator.  

As an exporter, you can also access a range of support services through Austrade, as well as financial assistance through state and territory governments.

Australian Customs requirements for exporting

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection will need to clear your goods for export. You also need to know what restrictions and export regulations apply.

Read more about customs requirements for exports.

Efic's Small Business Export Loan

Efic's Small Business Export Loan can help your small business get the finance it needs to support an export contract.

With Efic's Small Business Export Loan, you'll get:

  • A loan designed for small business exporters - Efic focuses on your ability to service the loan, rather than the level of security available.
  • Simple application process - You can apply online in as little as 30 minutes.
  • Fast approval - You'll receive an indicative offer right after submitting your application. Formal approval will be done in as little as 7 business days. After you accept the offer, funds will be ready within as little as 2 business days.
  • Access and confidence - You can have the confidence to take on larger export contracts, knowing you'll have the funds to do it.

Read more about Efic's Small Business Export Loan.

Country starter packs for exporting to Asia

Looking to export to Asia? A free suite of 11 Country Starter Packs are available from Asialink Business, covering Indonesia, Thailand, Republic of Korea, China, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan and Taiwan. The Country Starter Packs provide up-to-date information on each country to help you do business there.

Download the packs for free at Asialink Business, or access them via the Asialink Country Starter Pack app.

Promote your business overseas

You can promote your business overseas by registering on Austrade's Australian Suppliers Directory. This directory contains a list of Australian companies, products and services targeted at overseas buyers.

If you're interested in exploring overseas markets or identifying international business partners, you can express your interest in a ministerial led business mission run by Austrade.

Export goods online

Exporting online can be a cost-effective way of entering the overseas market. Online tools commonly used to market internationally include websites, e-mail, e-marketplaces and collaboration tools.

Read about more about doing business online.

Protect your international intellectual property (IP)

As well as registering in Australia, you can apply to register a trade mark, patent or design in overseas countries. This is particularly important when you export goods or sell goods and services over the internet. You should also ensure that your export goods will not infringe the IP of others in the overseas market.

Read more about intellectual property.

Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)

Australia has a number of FTAs with overseas countries that give businesses better access to those markets. Read more about Australia's free trade agreements.

© Commonwealth of Australia 2016. 

This content was first published on www.business.gov.au



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