Trade and goods compliance 2016

Increased industry engagement

We recognise that effective partnerships with industry are critical to achieving our mission of protecting Australia’s border and managing the movement of people and goods across it. 

We are committed to working with industry to identify and address compliance issues. Increased compliance facilitates legitimate trade, ensures a level playing field for industry and contributes to the protection of Australia’s border.

Recently we met with industry representatives and members to advise them of our areas of focus. We also discussed how we can work with industry to improve compliance with their obligations and what information and support might be useful.

Your feedback is also helping us to improve our compliance approach, noting that future work will align with other industry initiatives we are exploring.

We will provide updates through this website, the Goods Compliance Update and Continuing Professional Development programmes run by industry.

In line with the Industry Engagement Strategy 2020: Trade, Customs and Traveller, our approach to trade and goods compliance is focused on improving voluntary compliance by working with industry. Our operational arm, the Australian Border Force, has established the Compliance Advisory Group as a collaborative forum with industry to co-design solutions for trade and goods compliance issues. 

Compliance focus

In 2016, we are collaborating with industry to achieve improved compliance with:

  • Cargo reporting
  • Self-Assessed Clearance declarations and the Unaccompanied Personal Effects concession
  • Tariff Concession Orders
  • Valuation of imported goods
  • Enhanced Project By-Law Scheme

Cargo reporting

In 2016, we are focusing on improving compliance with cargo reporting requirements, particularly in relation to cargo reporting timeliness and the provision of deficient information in cargo reports.

Cargo reporting timeliness

Cargo reports must be lodged within the timeframes specified in section 64AB of the Customs Act 1901 (the Act) and section 18 and 19 of the Customs Regulation 2015 (the Regulation):

  • Air cargo reports must be lodged at least two hours prior to the estimated time of arrival specified in the impending arrival report.
  • Sea cargo reports must be lodged at least 48 hours prior to the estimated time of arrival of the vessel at the first Australian port, or for voyages less than 96 hours, as defined in the Regulation.

The provision of deficient information in cargo reports

Deficient information within a cargo report includes a consignee or consignor name or address, or goods description that provides us with minimal or no information about the cargo for risk assessment. Examples include 'goods', 'unknown' and 'shipment'. The use of deficient information might not comply with cargo reporting obligations.

Information provided on a cargo report should align with the approved statements for air and sea cargo reports authorised under subsection 64AB (4B) of the Act.

For more information see: Cargo reporting compliance.

Self-Assessed Clearance declarations and the Unaccompanied Personal Effects concession

Incorrectly using Self-Assessed Clearance declarations and the Unaccompanied Personal Effects concession can result in the non-payment of customs duty, taxes and charges and in not meeting other import requirements (that is, permits for restricted goods and quarantine requirements). Non-payment of duty and/or taxes is an offence and can result in the application of financial penalties or legal action.

For more information see:

Tariff Concession Orders

A Tariff Concession Order will be granted on imported goods if substitutable goods are not produced in Australia. If granted, the Tariff Concession Order allows duty free entry of the product into Australia.

We acknowledge that the interpretation of Tariff Concession Orders is an area of concern for industry. Throughout 2016, we are working with industry to ensure that our requirements relating to the tariff classification of goods are clear and that compliance can be improved.

For more information see: Compliance with Tariff Concession Orders.

Valuation of imported goods

The undervaluation of customs value is a key area of compliance focus for 2016. This includes a focus on the failure to include production assist costs in the customs value. Undervaluation of goods imported into Australia impacts on government revenue and creates an uneven playing field for entities operating in the trading environment.

All goods imported into Australia must be declared and assigned a customs value. To avoid non-compliance it is important that importers, working with their broker, ensure that any of the following price related costs incurred by the purchaser before the goods leave the ‘place of export’ are included in the customs value, including:

  • production assists costs
  • foreign inland freight and foreign inland insurance
  • packing costs
  • commissions
  • all royalties or licence fees and proceeds of subsequent resale. 

For more information see:

Enhanced Project By-Law Scheme

We have recently identified instances where importers have incorrectly utilised AusIndustry determinations to claim a free duty rate for goods that are not included in the Enhanced Project By-law Scheme. The Enhanced Project By-law Scheme is an Australian Government assistance program, administered by AusIndustry, within the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. This scheme provides duty free concessions for eligible goods imported for use in industries such as mining and resource processing. Claims have been incorrectly made on items ancillary to the project and goods that are not designed to be permanently attached to eligible goods.

Although the Government has announced that the Enhanced Project By-law Scheme is now closed to new applicants, over the coming months we will be assessing the accuracy and legitimacy of continuing and previous importations. We will be focusing on import declarations and refund applications claiming free duty rates under the Enhanced Project By-law Scheme.

We encourage all importers and customs brokers to be proactive in reviewing their importation documents to ensure that concessions have only been claimed on goods eligible for the concession.

If you identify an error in a statement, you can lodge a voluntary disclosure to amend the information and pay the appropriate duty.

For more information see Department of Industry, Innovation and Science’s website or email

Correcting errors made in statements to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection

We encourage all importers and customs brokers to be proactive in reviewing your import documents to ensure they are accurate and the correct amount of duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) has been paid. As an importer, you might need to talk to your customs broker about reviewing your imports.

If, in a review of your import documents an error or omission is identified, we encourage you to amend the information as soon as possible. This ensures the correct duty and GST is paid with minimal disruption to your business operations. You might also avoid paying administrative penalties under the Infringements Notice Scheme, ranging upwards from AUD8100.

For more information see voluntary disclosures.

To lodge a voluntary disclosure with the Voluntary Disclosures unit email


The following resources are available to help you comply with your obligations:

Contact us

If you would like to contact us to discuss these issues, or if you have any questions, email​