What are the import requirements for military equipment, personnel effects belonging to Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) personnel and personal effects belonging to non-SOFA members of a Foreign Defence Force (FDF)?

​Different concessional treatment is applicable for the importation of military equipment and personal effects belonging to Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) personnel and personal effects belonging to non-SOFA members of a Foreign Defence Force (FDF).

1)   Military Equipment

Item 10 of Schedule 4 to the Customs Tariff Act 1995 may be used for the importation of military equipment belonging to a visiting FDF providing the goods meet eligibility requirements, however Item 10 does not cover the personal and household effects of the individual members of those forces.

2)   Personal effects belonging to SOFA personnel

Item 11 of Schedule 4 to the Customs Tariff Act 1995 provides concessional treatment for personal effects including furniture, household goods and motor vehicles that are for use by or sale to SOFA personnel subject to conditions. (All the by-laws of Item 11 excludes cigarettes, cigars, tobacco and spirituous liquors from receiving concessional treatment).

Item 11 is conditioned by separate departmental by-laws for the country specific SOFA in place. These by-laws reflect the respective Agreement; the eligible goods and the eligible persons listed in each by-law may vary according to those Agreements.

SOFAs exist between Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Singapore and the United States of America. There are varying inclusions or exclusions dependent on the country specific SOFA agreement in place and there are time requirements to each SOFA for ownership of the goods prior to the SOFA personnel's first departure to Australia and when exporting the goods.

Item 11 gives personal effects belonging to a member of a SOFA a duty rate of Free and Goods and Services Tax (GST) legislation makes goods imported under Item 11 non-taxable importations (so no duty or GST is payable). Any goods imported under SOFA cannot be sold or otherwise distributed within Australia, for example a motor vehicle cannot be sold to another SOFA member or Australian resident.

Visiting military personnel that are members of a "Visiting Force" that is subject to the provisions of a SOFA, do not need to obtain a Vehicle Import Approval for an imported vehicle.