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Review of all customs licensing arrangements

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Customs licensing review – update

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. 


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 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 for review
2 November 2015Terms of reference and discussion paper released
31 December 2015Closing date for stakeholders to lodge submissions
TBADraft recommendations publically released for comment
TBAClosing date for stakeholders to lodge comments on draft recommendations
TBARecommendations 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.