Trusted trader FAQs

​Trusted trader - Frequently asked questions

What is Trusted Trader?

See About Australian Trusted Trader 

How do I apply for Australian Trusted Trader?

From 1 July 2016, it is intended that Australian Trusted Trader (ATT) will be fully operational and open to all participants in the international trade supply chain.

Entities interested in becoming a Trusted Trader will need to undertake the following accreditation process:

  1. Submission of an Expression of Interest form to begin the accreditation process. The purpose of this form is to register your interest in participating. It will also be for you and us to undertake a preliminary assessment of your eligibility to participate in the programme.
  2. The Department considers the Expression of Interest and assigns a self-assessment questionnaire to the business tailored to their individual business activities in the international supply chain.
  3. Completion of a self-assessment questionnaire by the business outlining how they meet the supply chain security and trade compliance criteria of the ATT.
  4. The Department reviews the self-assessment questionnaire and if we are reasonably satisfied that the business meets the relevant supply chain security and trade compliance criteria for participation in the programme, an interim agreement will be signed with the business.
  5. The Department will conduct a validation of any business supply chain security and trade compliance practices that were outlined in the self-assessment questionnaire.
  6. After reviewing the supply chain security and trade compliance criteria of the ATT and any other relevant conditions, the Department may enter into an on-going agreement with the business, accrediting them with Trusted Trader status. The agreement will set out the conditions for maintaining Trusted Trader status, including periodic revalidations, requirements of the Trusted Trader to continue to meet qualification criteria and mutual cooperation on matters relevant to the ATT.

In the first instance potential candidates will contact the Department via e: mail and we will organise access to the Expression of Interest and the Self-Assessment Questionnaire via iApply.

What are the benefits?

Australian Trusted Trader seeks to provide trade facilitation benefits to those businesses with strong security practices and a history of compliant behaviour. Accredited Trusted Traders will have access to benefits like:

  • enhanced client service through the provision of a dedicated point of contact, 
  • fewer examinations and priority service
  • priority consideration of trade advice rulings and applications

Other benefits may be offered when entities have participated in an onsite validation and the Department has validated that the business meets all the necessary supply chain criteria and trade compliance criteria necessary to become a Trusted Trader.

The Department is also pursuing Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRAs) with Australia’s key trading partners. MRAs involve partner customs agencies recognising each other’s Authorised Economic Operator and Trusted Trader style programmes, and extending benefits to each other’s accredited participants.

Intelligent intervention in the trade environment, coupled with mutual recognition of our ATT will decrease red tape, expedite the clearance of cargo, and ultimately increase the international competitiveness of Australian businesses.

What are the costs?

There are no upfront or ongoing fees and charges associated with lodging an Expression of Interest for being a Trusted Trader. However, there may be some additional business costs associated with meeting the required standards for the programme.

Upon lodging an Expression of Interest, you will be assigned a dedicated point of contact who will work with you to identify any areas you may need to improve. For example, you may need to install CCTV at certain premises or upgrade your record-keeping software

I am part of the supply chain, but not an importer or exporter. Do I need to be a Trusted Trader?

Australian Trusted Trader is a voluntary programme and there is no requirement to become a Trusted Trader. However, there are additional benefits available to Trusted Traders who use other accredited businesses, such as trusted transport companies or brokers. In this way, trusted importers and exporters may favour using trade intermediaries who are also Trusted Traders.

Does the accreditation process differ for different companies?

All businesses are required to follow the accreditation process. This process has been designed in accordance with the World Customs Organization’s Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade (SAFE Framework) and with the input of key industry representatives.

The accreditation process is the same for all businesses seeking Trusted Trader accreditation. However, any necessary work required for a business to be accredited may differ. This will be determined through the assessment and validation of a business’s supply chain security and trade compliance practices. This risk assessment will consider the nature of the business, its supply chains, the goods, technology and systems.

A case manager will be assigned to consider your submission, and will work with you so you only need to address requirements relevant to your business. These will differ depending on your role(s) in the international supply chain.

One part of my business exports while another part imports. Do both parts need to be accredited?

Where different parts of your company are registered under separate ABNs, these would be treated as separate companies and would need to undertake separate accreditation – though there is no requirement that all affiliated businesses become accredited Trusted Traders.

When can I lodge an Expression of Interest?

Expressions of interest will formally open on 1 July 2016. If you wish to express a desire for early commencement through involvement in our pilot phase, please contact us.

Why not fully implement the Trusted Trader Programme now? Why have a pilot phase?

We need to work with industry and maximise the benefits available, make the necessary systems and procedural changes, and ensure new processes are efficient and non-disruptive. Australia’s unique border environment means we need to design a unique programme that will leverage off our strengths and address our vulnerabilities. Furthermore, the Trusted Trader Programme is being developed in accordance with the Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) Implementation Guidance from the World Customs Organization’s SAFE Package. The AEO Implementation Guidance advises that AEO style programmes should commence with a pilot followed by integrated phases which include more operators.

The advantage of having a pilot is that there can be continued testing and refinement of protocols within a live environment. This can be done prior to the inclusion of greater numbers or additional segments of supply chain operators.

Does this happen overseas? How is ours different?

The latest figures (as of March 2014) from the World Customs Organization indicate that internationally there are 53 operational Authorized Economic Operator programmes, 10 new programmes to be launched and 13 trade compliance programmes. Like the ATT programme, the Authorized Economic Operator programmes are aimed at enhancing security and facilitation of the international supply chain by implementing the SAFE Framework standards. ATT is structured to allow for Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) to be sought with the key trading partners that have Authorized Economic Operator programmes.

What has changed? How is Australian Trusted Trader different from Australia’s previous trial?

The former Australian Customs Service investigated starting an Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) scheme in 2006 and ran a pilot to test the viability of these concepts. Domestic settings at the time however did not suggest a satisfactory return on investment for industry.

Since then, trends in the international trade environment have strengthened the value of an Australian Trusted Trader programme. With over 50 programmes in operation around the world, mutual recognition with key trading partners will improve Australia’s access to foreign markets.

If we do not implement a programme in Australia, key industry bodies are pointing out that Australian exporters are at a disadvantage compared to those foreign companies who have access to the benefits of mutual recognition schemes. And as the World Customs Organization’s and World Trade Organization advocate and support the creation of similar programmes globally, the benefits from mutual recognition will only increase.

In order to support Australia’s traders, and recognise the growth in trade and the increased complexity of production processes and supply chains, the Department is pursuing the Trusted Trader Programme and mutual recognition with our trading partners as a priority.

Will ATT lead to widespread job losses in the logistics sector?

The Trusted Trader Programme will not prejudice larger or smaller businesses, and we do not intend to exclude, target or provide particular advantage to any industry sector. The success of the programme relies on industry involvement from all business sectors and sizes.

We have been particularly careful throughout our design to consult with industry through an Industry Advisory Group  - a representative group of the various sectors involved.

To avoid any adverse impacts on Australian industry, we are gradually implementing the programme over 12 months through a pilot phase. This will enable continued testing and refinement of the TTP protocols and processes within a live environment. It will also provide an opportunity for further industry co-design and an exploration of potential additional benefits aimed at boosting Australian businesses’ international competitiveness.