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Review of all customs licensing arrangements

Draft recommendations - March 2017

The 15 draft recommendations developed address the Terms of Reference of the Review. The principal recommendation is that licensing is to be retained for customs brokers, depots and warehouses. Other recommendations are intended to strengthen and streamline the current licensing regimes, with a primary purpose of implementing savings and efficiencies for the Department and industry, and potentially across agencies that also licence or register customs brokers, depots and warehouses under their respective Acts.

The draft recommendations offer better guidance across a range of issues that should result in quicker, clearer and improved outcomes for the regulator and licensees. There should also be a reduction in regulatory burden (and red tape) for industry and the Australian Government.

The final report and recommendations will be submitted to the Comptroller-General of Customs by 31 March 2017. A further update will be published once the Comptroller-General has considered the final report.

Any queries regarding the review should be directed to licensingreview@border.gov.au.

Draft recommendations

CommentsRecommendation
The Review found that licensing continues to be relevant, although there have been significant changes in international trade over recent years. The principal recommendation is that licensing be retained for customs brokers, depots and warehouses. 1. Licensing

The Department should retain a licensing regime for customs brokers, depots and warehouses.
The Review considers that no model has been suggested that is more efficient in meeting the objectives for border management. However, there are more effective ways to operate the existing system. Improvements to the existing system can and should be made.

Recommendations 2-9 are intended to strengthen and streamline the current licensing regimes, with a primary purpose of implementing savings and efficiencies for the Department and industry, and potentially across other agencies that license customs brokers, depots and warehouses. These recommendations require the Department to work closely with other agencies to align processes and procedures wherever possible. A range of issues including fit and proper checks, documentation requirements, licence renewal procedures and compliance activities are covered by these recommendations. They seek the introduction of an electronic information system to include electronic lodgement of information to the Department.
2. Alignment with other agencies

The Department should work with other agencies to better align licensing processes.
3. Fit and proper checks

The Department should seek to align its fit and proper checks with other agencies, with a view to increasing efficiencies and reducing duplication.
4. Electronic lodgement of information

The Department should seek to implement an electronic system for lodging information for licensing.
5. Application and documentation requirements

The Department should review the application and documentation requirements for licensing customs brokers, depots and warehouses.
6. Licence renewal processes

The Department should work with other agencies to align licence renewal processes.
7. Timeframes for decisions on customs broker, depot and warehouse licences

The Department should retain the existing timeframe of 60 days for decisions on customs broker, depot and warehouse licensing applications.
8. Compliance (including audit) processes

The Department should explore aligning compliance (including auditing) processes with other Government agencies.
9. Permissions for movement of goods

The Department should explore with other agencies whether there are opportunities to align permissions for movement of goods.
Recommendations 10-12 seek to streamline existing process by allowing multiple facilities controlled by a single entity to be covered under one licence and by removing the necessity to seek the advice from the National Customs Brokers Licensing Advisory Committee (NCBLAC) on disciplinary matters where a customs broker has been convicted of an offence under the Customs Act or other relevant law. 10. Classes of licences for customs brokers

The Department should continue with existing licence categories for customs brokers.
11. National Customs Brokers Licensing Advisory Committee

The Customs Act 1901 should be amended:

  • To allow disciplinary decisions to be made by the Comptroller-General without the necessity for reference to NCBLAC where a broker has been prosecuted and found by a court (whether after a trial or following a plea of guilty) to have committed an offence against the Customs laws or against other laws in relation to an importation of goods and the elements of that offence require guilty intent.
  • to make clear that, in appointing Industry Members to NCBLAC, the Comptroller-General can seek nominations from multiple organisations that represent brokers.
12. Licences covering multiple facilities

The Department should develop and implement a more flexible licensing system that would allow a single licence to cover multiple facilities controlled by the same entity or company under the Customs Act 1901.
Recommendations 13-14 indicate that the use of securities should be retained as an option available to the Department and that licence conditions should be re-examined by the Department. 13. Use of bonds, securities and indemnities

The Department should retain the right to use bonds, securities and indemnities.
14. Licence conditions

The Department should re-examine the additional conditions it includes on licences to ensure that they are sufficiently clear and provide guidance.
The Review found that the integrity of the licensing system will only grow in importance in the future and considers that strengthening the integrity of the system will better protect the community. 15. Integrity of the licensing regimes

The Department should continue to place the highest priority on maintaining the integrity of the customs licensing regime.

Customs licensing review updates

January 2017

Consultation completed on review of all customs licensing arrangements.

We hosted a final review workshop on Friday 20 January 2017.

Industry representatives attended and gave valuable clarification of their submissions on the issues where submissions differed.

Three issues were discussed in depth, including:

  • the role of the National Customs Brokers Licensing Advisory Committee
  • whether one license should cover multiple establishments
  • whether to introduce a ‘provisional’ licence for Customs Brokers.

We now better understand the reasons for the submitted ideas on these issues and have a clearer way forward to develop recommendations for the Comptroller-General of Customs.

The final report and recommendations will be submitted to the Comptroller-General of Customs by 31 March 2017.

We acknowledge the contribution of industry representatives who contributed to the review, especially those who provided feedback on the Issues Paper and who came in person to the workshop on Friday 20 January 2017.

December 2016

The Review of Customs Licensing Regimes Issues Paper  (260KB PDF) summarises the key themes raised in the 37 submissions received as part of the Review into licensing regimes under the Customs Act 1901 (the Review). The Issues Paper also contains a summary of discussion points from a government-industry integrity workshop, held on 25 November 2016, on the integrity of the licensing regimes. Additionally, the paper captures any other feedback received from the workshop.

Any queries regarding the Review or comments on the Issues Paper should be directed to licensingreview@border.gov.au.

Further consultation with industry is planned for mid-January 2017. The final report for the Review will be submitted to the Comptroller-General of Customs for consideration on 31 March 2017.

August 2016

The focus of the review into licensing regimes under the Customs Act 1901 (as announced in November 2015) was to work with industry and other government departments to identify opportunities to streamline, improve and deregulate the existing licensing regimes.

Given the recent allegations of corruption within licensed entities, we have decided to broaden the scope of the review to specifically focus on the integrity of the licensing regimes and to identify further measures to strengthen the licensing regimes against corruption. We recognise that to be successful, this needs to be done in collaboration with industry. We acknowledge that the allegations relate to a small minority of licensed entities; the vast majority of licensees perform their trusted role with integrity and professionalism.

We will continue the consultative nature of the review and seek input and advice from industry. We will engage with industry on options to strengthen the integrity of the licensing regimes and to ensure we have a holistic and integrated system. Details on how you can be involved and timeframes will be provided shortly.

We are committed to working with industry to ensure that the future licensing regimes have the right checks and balances in place. Additionally, we value industry’s contribution and assistance to the review.

Terms of reference

The review will be supported by the Australian Taxation Office, who administers the warehousing of excise equivalent goods under the Customs Act 1901

Excise equivalent goods are imported alcohol (other than wine), tobacco and fuel that, if produced or manufactured in Australia, would be subject to excise. With the exception of providores, catering bonds and duty free stores, responsibility for the licensing and administration of warehouses that store excise equivalent goods moved to the Australian Taxation Office on 1 July 2010. 

Purpose

The objectives of the review are to:

  • review the role played by licensing in today's border management environment, and consider whether there are other, more efficient, ways to achieve the same objectives for border management
  • assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the current licensing regimes
  • assess the regulatory burden of the current licensing regimes and identify opportunities to reduce this burden and align application processes between administrations
  • recommend whether the current licensing regimes should be retained with improvements/enhancements or replaced.

Scope

The review will assess all licensing regimes under the Customs Act, including the licensing of customs brokers, depots and warehouses (including providores, catering bonds and duty free stores and excise equivalent goods). 

The review will examine the legislation and administrative processes for the licensing regimes. This will necessitate an assessment of the:

  • relevant provisions of the Customs Act and the Customs Regulation 2015 to confirm that they remain necessary and appropriate, and to identify any opportunities to streamline or simplify these arrangements
  • current application process for a licence from the perspective of an applicant in preparing the application
  • current application process for a licence from our perspective and the Australian Taxation Office in processing the application
  • current administration by us and the Australian Taxation Office of the licensing regimes, including available resources and the segregation of functions (policy and operations), and opportunities to increase consistency across the regimes
  • functions, composition and processes of the National Customs Brokers Licensing Advisory Committee to identify possible improvements/enhancements or alternative models.

As part of the review, we will consider if:

  • information required to be submitted with an application remains appropriate
  • conditions to which a licence is subject and the consequences for any breaches remain appropriate
  • securities should be taken from depot and warehouse licence holders to ensure compliance with the Customs Act and to protect the revenue, and if so, the factors that should be taken into account in determining the amount of security
  •  there are consistent processes between administrations and licence types.

The review will not review the:

  • Fees and charges applicable to customs brokers, depots or warehouses as those were the subject of a separate review, the Joint Review of Border Fees, Charges and Taxes, which was announced in September 2014 by the then Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Hon. Scott Morrison MP. It is recognised however that changes to the licensing regimes might result in changes to the cost base.
  • Continuing Professional Development Scheme for customs brokers as the Continuing Professional Development Scheme was reviewed by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service in 2014.
  • Cargo reporting requirements.

In formulating recommendations, the current cost of licensing customs brokers, depots and Department-administered warehouses will be considered. Any recommendations to improve the efficiency of the current licensing process will need to be fully costed.

Consultation process

During the review, we will consult with stakeholders, including industry, importers and exporters, non-government stakeholders, and relevant Government agencies.

Where appropriate, we and Australian Taxation Office will engage in consultative discussions with stakeholders and seek their comments and feedback through submissions. Based on these submissions, we will develop draft recommendations which will be circulated to stakeholders for further comments.

Timeframes

Timeframes for review
DatesDetails
2 November 2015Terms of reference and discussion paper released
31 December 2015Closing date for stakeholders to lodge submissions
16 December 2016Issues Paper publically released for comment
11 January 2017Closing date for stakeholders to lodge comments on Issues Paper
31 March 2017Final report submitted to the Comptroller - General of Customs for consideration

Discussion paper

The Review of customs licensing regimes discussion paper (479KB PDF) provides further details on how to provide a submission, and covers a range of issues on which we seek information and feedback.

Submissions

We received 37 submissions for the review into licensing regimes under the Customs Act 1901.

Submissions have been published below unless authors have not authorised publication of their submission on  this webpage.

Disclaimer: Views or opinions expressed in submissions reflect those of the organisation or individual making the submission and are not those of the Department.

Names and personal information have been redacted from submissions. This is to protect the privacy of the author, the privacy of other individuals, or because the review team considered that the identity of individuals was not relevant to its terms of reference.

The published submissions do not meet Australian Government accessibility requirements as they have been provided by third parties.

NumberAuthorCategory
01ConfidentialWarehouses
02 Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) Pty Ltd. (143KB PDF)Depots
Warehouses
03ConfidentialWarehouses
04 Lion Pty Ltd. (631KB PDF) Warehouses
05ConfidentialWarehouses
06ConfidentialWarehouses
07 Philip Morris Limited (165KB PDF)Customs Brokers
Warehouses
08Confidential Warehouses
09Confidential Warehouses
10Confidential Warehouses
11 Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia Inc. (176KB PDF)Depots
Warehouses
12 Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia Inc (284KB PDF) Customs Brokers
13 Australian Federation of International Forwarders (144KB PDF)Customs Brokers
Depot
Warehouses
14 National Customs Broker Licensing Advisory Committee (301KB PDF)Customs Brokers
15 International Trade Compliance Pty Ltd. (95KB PDF) Customs Brokers
16 Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) Pty Ltd (140KB PDF)Customs Brokers
17Confidential Customs Brokers
18 Myfreightcareer Pty limited (134KB PDF) Customs Brokers
19 Private Individual (43KB PDF) Customs Brokers
20 Melbret Customs Agency Pty Ltd (240KB PDF)Customs Brokers
21Private Individual
- Original Submission (168KB PDF)
- Further submission (75KB PDF)
Customs Brokers
22Confidential Customs Brokers
23Confidential Customs Brokers
24 3D Logistics Pty Ltd (114KB PDF)Customs Brokers
25 Private Individual (474KB PDF) Customs Brokers
26 Hodder Logistics International (481KB PDF)Customs Brokers
27 Consolidated Cargo & Customs Pty Ltd (159KB PDF)Customs Brokers
28Confidential Customs Brokers
29 Luk & Associates Solicitors (19KB PDF)Customs Brokers
Depots
Warehouses
30 Powerhouse Logistics Pty Ltd. (1MB PDF)Customs Brokers
31 Southern Cross Cargo (54KB PDF)Customs Brokers
Depots
Warehouses
32Confidential Customs Brokers
33 Charles Sturt University, Centre for Customs and Excise Studies (1.5MB PDF)Customs Brokers
Depots
Warehouses
34ConfidentialCustoms Brokers
Depots
Warehouses
35 Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (322KB PDF)
 
 
Customs Brokers
36 Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (654KB PDF) Depots
37 Australian Institute of Petroleum Ltd. (482KB PDF)Warehouses

Enquiries

Any enquires concerning the review should be directed by email to licensingreview@border.gov.au.