Complying with customs legislation and regulations

The Australian Government expects industry and the international trading community to comply with customs-related law in all transactions involving the importation or exportation of goods and services and the movement of ships and aircraft to and from Australia.

Your responsibilities

If you provide information to us either directly or indirectly in the course of importing or exporting goods, you are legally responsible for the accuracy of information supplied.

You must examine and retain all documents supplied to us, check them for accuracy, and advise your broker or freight forwarder of any errors.

The provision of false or misleading information is considered an offence of strict liability under Section 243T or 243U of the Customs Act 1901.

A person is said to have committed an offence if they:

  • makes, or cause to be made, a false or misleading statement
  • omit, or cause to be omitted, any matter without which the statement is false or misleading in a material particular.

Additionally, if a holder of a broker's licence becomes aware that information that has been provided to us by or on behalf of a client of the broker is false, misleading or incomplete, the broker must, as soon as practicable after becoming aware of the error or omission provide written particulars of the incident to the Commissioner.

Our approach to goods compliance

We take a risk-based approach to compliance. Central to this approach is a focus on fostering high levels of voluntary compliance while dealing effectively with those who don't comply with the law. We will support industry to effectively and efficiently comply with customs legislation and regulations.

We recognise that behaviour falls on a spectrum ranging from active compliance to simple error, indifference, to intentional/criminal non-compliance. Consequently, our treatments and responses range from, but are not limited to, education and awareness initiatives for those genuinely endeavouring to be compliant, to sanctions, including the issuing of Infringement Notices, to penalties and prosecution, for serious and systemic breaches. More information on the Infringement Notice Scheme (360KB PDF)  is available.

Compliance activities

We undertake a variety of checks to verify compliance with regulations throughout the supply chain including but not limited to:

  • assessment of documents
  • physical examination of goods
  • audits
  • desktop verifications.


We have authority to audit all client activity, including imports, exports licensed warehouses, drawbacks, refunds, industry assistance schemes, permits and taxes on imports. An audit is an evaluation of company practices and records. The audit assists in judging the integrity of information supplied under self-assessment and the level of compliance with legislative requirements.

An audit will follow these steps:

  • we initially contact the client to advise they have been selected for audit - clients are encouraged to examine their transactions prior to an audit, as errors reported to us voluntarily will be viewed favourably
  • we will arrange an entrance interview with the client to discuss the proposed audit
  • we will conduct an exit interview with the client to discuss the assessment made about the client's level of compliance.

Monitoring and Export examination powers

The monitoring power and examination power of goods for export are designed to help industry to comply with their obligations under the Customs Act 1901 (Customs Act). They do not confer powers to search for evidence of offences.

There are two discrete powers in the Customs Act which enable authorised officers to enter premises for the purpose of monitoring or examination:

  • Monitoring powers (by consent or warrant, for monitoring compliance only).
  • Export examination powers (by consent only, for examining goods and documents relating to goods for export not yet subject to Customs control. The authorised officer must believe on reasonable grounds that there are or have been in the premises goods that the officer reasonably believes are intended for export).

More information about the Monitoring and Export examination powers is available. 

Useful resources

The following resources might be helpful when endeavouring to comply with Customs legislation and regulations.