Importing weapons - Official purposes test

The Customs (Prohibited Import) Regulations 1956 (the Regulations) provide a list of goods that are controlled on importation into Australia.

To import these weapons into Australia, prior written permission from the Minister, or an authorised officer, is required. Applications for permission to import will only be considered when the weapons being imported comply with a legislated test.

One of the tests applicable to certain weapons is the official purposes test. This test is applicable for goods being imported for:

  • supply to the government of the Commonwealth, State or Territory
  • supply to the government of a foreign country in a way that will not contravene Australia’s international obligations, under a contract in force at the time of importation
  • demonstration, inspection, testing, evaluation or for training use by the government of the Commonwealth or a State or Territory
  • donation to the government of the Commonwealth or a State or Territory.

Goods applicable to the test

The official purposes test is applicable to all weapons listed within Schedule 13 of the Regulations. This includes goods or parts for armaments, munitions, weapon systems, mounts, targeting or guidance systems. It also includes entire vehicles with these items.

Note: It does not include military vehicle parts for example tracks, wipers, door panels and parts not integral to a weapon or weapon system.

How to apply

All applications must be made in writing using a B710 Form — Application for Permission to Import Schedule 13 Weapons (443KB PDF). Standard permits are valid for six (6) months from the date of signature and for one (1) importation only.

Applications must be made prior to the importation of the goods. The assessment process takes approximately four (4) weeks from receipt by the processing office and may be extended if additional information is required or the application is considered incomplete.

You must also provide supporting documents with your application to demonstrate that the importation satisfies the official purposes test.

Lodgement of an application does not guarantee permission to import will be granted and goods should not be forwarded to Australia until notified of the approval in writing. Goods that are imported without a valid permit may be subject to seizure, disposal and/or prosecution.

Required supporting documents / import conditions

You must provide the following supporting documents with your application:

  • a copy of a licence or authorisation that demonstrates the importer is authorised to possess, use and/or deal in the goods for the importer's intended use in accordance with the law of the State or Territory in which the goods are to be used if required
  • Form B711 —Evidence of Government Use (527KB PDF) for the Import of Schedule 13 Weapons signed by an appropriate representative of the government of the Commonwealth, or the government of a State or Territory
  • a copy of a purchase order, supporting letter, contract, tender documents, end user certificate or other document confirming the goods are for the purposes of the government of the Commonwealth, State or Territory or foreign government.  The document must include details to enable the document to be verified by the assessment officer.

Applications submitted without all required supporting documents will not be processed.

Ongoing permits

Regular and high volume commercial importers of goods for the purposes of the government of the Commonwealth, State or Territory or foreign government may request ongoing permission to import to allow the use of one permit for multiple importations for a specified period. 

A supporting letter indicating the reason for requiring an ongoing permission is required to be submitted with an application in addition to the supporting documents listed above.

Ongoing permits might have additional conditions listed within, such as quarterly or ad hoc reporting requirements.

Australia-United States Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty

The Regulations now provide an exemption for Australian Community members, under the Australia United States Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty, to obtain Ministerial import permission to import Schedule 13 goods into Australia.

Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty goods, services and technology are currently exempt from export controls when moving between the United States and Australia and are subject to stringent audit controls by both countries. More information on treaty goods is available at Department of Defence website.

Assessment

We might investigate the importers history as part of the application process. Previous instances of non-compliance with the import and export requirements may result in permission to import or ongoing permission to import being refused.

The information provided in your application will be verified with the appropriate end user and any inconsistencies identified may be subject to investigation and subsequent legal action. Making a false or misleading statement to our officer is an offence under Section 234(1)(d) of the Customs Act 1901.