Labelling requirements (commerce markings)

The Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act 1905 and the Commerce (Imports) Regulations 1940 (CI Regulations) set out which goods or classes of goods require labelling when being imported, what labelling is required and where the label must be applied.

Certain goods must be correctly labelled with a trade description before they can be imported. Not all imported goods require labelling.

Trade description markings

Trade description markings must follow certain standards in order to comply with the Act and CI Regulations.

The trade description markings must:

  • be in English
  • be in prominent and legible characters
  • be on the main label or brand attached to the goods, in a prominent position and in a way that is as permanent as practicable
  • include the name of the country where the goods were made or produced
  • include a true description of the goods.

'True description' is not defined in the legislation so is taken to be anything that is true and accurate about the goods.

Goods with a false trade description must not be imported or exported. A false trade description is one that is likely to mislead about key characteristics of the goods. Examples include the weight, origin, manufacturer, preparation and contents.

Goods that are imported and do not meet the requirements of the Act and/or the CI Regulations can be seized by the Australian Border Force.

Review of the Commerce (Imports) Regulations 1940

The CI Regulations were due to expire on 1 April 2016. To ensure current labelling requirements for goods continue, the CI Regulations will now be in force until 1 April 2017.

The Department intends to remake the CI Regulations during this time and further information will be made available on this page.

More information

For more information, see the fact sheets and legislation about commerce marks.

Fact sheets


Contact us

Contact us for advice and assistance relating to labelling or trade description matters.