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Review of all customs licensing arrangements

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Customs licensing review – changes to timeframes

We appreciate the responses received from industry and government stakeholders as they have provided valuable information and suggestions. We received a total of 37 submissions.

We need to consult further with industry and government stakeholders to ensure we fully understand the complexity of the issues raised, their interrelationships with other programmes and processes, and their relationship to the entire supply chain. Therefore, we have decided to extend the timeframe for the review.

The draft recommendations will now be released on 11 July 2016 and the final report will be submitted to the Comptroller-General of Customs on 31 August 2016 for consideration.

See Australian Customs Notice 2016/11 for more information.

Customs licensing review welcomes new project lead

Bill Kerley has recently joined the Licensing Review unit. Bill is a qualified lawyer and project manager with a background in regulation and licensing policy. He has been a member of a number of recent government review teams examining industry regulation matters. He has also worked with the Productivity Commission on regulation reform and industry inquiry teams. We welcome Bill and look forward to leveraging his experience.

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. 


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.


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 the perspective of the Department and the Australian Taxation Office in processing the application
  • current administration by the Department 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.

The final recommendations will submitted to the Comptroller-General of Customs by 31 August 2016.


Timeframes for review
2 November 2015Terms of reference and discussion paper released
31 December 2015Closing date for stakeholders to lodge submissions
11 July 2016Draft recommendations publically released for comment
25 July 2016Closing date for stakeholders to lodge comments on draft recommendations
31 August 2016Recommendations 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.


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