Businesses, Agents and Trade Professionals

Refund of customs import duty

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Under certain circumstances you might be entitled to a refund of some, or all, of the Customs duty that you have paid on imported goods.

The National Refunds Centre is responsible for the management of refunds of Customs import duty and indirect taxes collected through the Integrated Cargo System (ICS) on a full import declaration (FID), self-assessed clearance (SAC), or periodic return (return).

We conduct audit and other activities to ensure the integrity of the refunds scheme. This can result in demands for unpaid duty and penalties where the processed refund application contains false or misleading statements.

There are other circumstances in which you might also be eligible for a refund of duty and/or indirect taxes. Other refund methods administered by us includes the Tourist Refund Scheme, Export Duty Drawback Scheme, return of security deposits, customs duty collected via postal invoices, on the spot assessments issued at international airports and seaports. More information about these circumstances is available on our website.

Eligibility

You are eligible to lodge a refund application if you:

  • are the owner of the goods (or an authorised agent acting on behalf of the owner)
  • have lodged the original version of the full import declaration (FID), self-assessed clearance declaration (SAC) or periodic return (return)
  • paid the customs duty and assessed indirect tax at the time of entry into home consumption.

You are not entitled to a refund of customs duty if a drawback has been received for the same goods.

Under A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999, you are not entitled to a refund of Goods and Services Tax (GST) if you intend to or have already claimed GST as a credit on your Business Activity Statement (BAS).

Owner of the goods

You are considered to be the owner of the goods if you lodged the import declaration, self-assessed clearance or return for the goods and paid Customs duty and taxes to us.

Check the original import declaration, self-assessed clearance or return to verify if you are shown as the owner.

In some cases we are unable to process a refund application because the applicant is not the actual importer and owner of the goods at the time of importation. For example, an Australian consumer purchases goods from an overseas supplier. The price paid to the overseas supplier includes importation costs (including payment of Customs duty and taxes) and delivery of the goods to the consumer. In this example, the overseas supplier lodges the importation declaration. They are the owner of the goods at the time of importation and therefore the owner who can seek a refund of Customs duty.

How to lodge a refund application

A refund application is lodged by making amendments to the import declaration, self-assessed clearance or return under which your goods were cleared into Australia.

While it is not a requirement, you should use the services of a customs broker to amend the original import declaration, self-assessed clearance or return and lodge a refund application on your behalf.

Applications can be lodged:

The explanatory notes section on the B653 form provides further details regarding self-lodgement of refund applications.

You can send your refund applications and supporting documentation by email, fax or post to National Refunds Intervention for assessment.

Postal address
Department of Immigration and Border Protection
National Refunds Intervention
GPO Box 2399    
ADELAIDE SA 5001
Fax: 08 8447 9443
Email: nationalrefunds@border.gov.au

Note: Under section 240 of the Act, you must keep all documentation for a minimum of five (5) years from the date of your refund application.

Supporting documents

Whether your refund application is lodged electronically or in an approved form, you must quote the appropriate reason code that indicates the refund circumstance you are applying for. You must also provide payment details to receive your refund should it be approved.

See Refund circumstances for a list of reason codes and lodgement options.

Depending on the type of refund you are applying for, different forms of evidence will be needed such as:

  • a  copy of the invoice
  • shipping documents
  • other supporting documentation that directly relates to the refund reason code.

Timeframe for refund claims

Generally the period for lodging a refund is within four years after the date on which the customs duty was first paid.

If you are applying for a refund of duty for goods that have deteriorated, been damaged, lost, stolen or goods that were not consigned, you must lodge the refund application within fourteen days after the goods were released from the Department of Agriculture control or customs control.

For refund applications made for free trade or economic agreements listed under regulation 23 of the Customs (International Obligations) Regulation 2015, there are some circumstances where a certificate of origin must be in force at the time the application is made.

Refer to section 109 of the Customs Regulation 2015 and section 28 of the Customs (International Obligations) Regulation 2015 for further information about lodgement timeframes for a refund application.

Assessing your refund application

We might review your refund application and ask you to provide additional related commercial documents. If so, you will have 30 calendar days to provide the information requested.

We aim to assess your refund application within 30 calendar days upon receipt of all necessary information. A decision will be made to either approve or reject the application based on the supporting documentation provided.

If approved, payment of your refund application will be processed through electronic funds transfer (EFT) to your nominated bank account, or your customs broker's bank account within three to five working days.

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your refund application, you have access to both internal and external review of the decision. For further details on these review options see Refund of Customs Import Duty Practice Statement (60KB PDF).

Refund circumstances

From 1 April 2015, the legislation that provides us the authority to refund duty under certain circumstances has been changed. Two new Regulations replace the Customs Regulations 1926 (the 1926 Regulations). See the Australian Customs and Border Protection Notice 2015/14 for more information about the sunsetting of the 1926 Regulations.

Full descriptions of when you can claim a refund are set out in section 102, section 105 and clause 1 of schedule 6, of the Customs Regulation 2015 and section 23 of the Customs (International Obligations) Regulation 2015.

We have summarised these circumstances in the tables below.

Refund reason codes

The tables below describes the circumstances set out for Australian custom duty refund in Customs Regulation 2015.

Customs Regulation 1926Customs Regulation 2015CodeCode Description
126(1)(a)Item1
Clause 1 of Schedule 6
AThe goods have deteriorated or been damaged, lost or destroyed after being received at the place of export and before the goods became subject to the control of customs.
126(1)(b)Item 2
Clause 1 of Schedule 6
BThe goods have deteriorated, been damaged or destroyed while subject to the control of customs.
126(1)(c)Item 3
Clause 1 of Schedule 6
CThe goods have been lost while subject to the control of customs, or stolen after being received at the place of export and before leaving the control of customs.
126(1)(d)Item 4
Clause 1 of Schedule 6
DThe goods have deteriorated or been damaged while undergoing treatment under the Biosecurity Act 2015 after directly leaving the control of customs.
126(1)(da)Item 5
Clause 1 of Schedule 6
DAThe import entry in relation to the goods is withdrawn under section 71F of the Act and the amount of duty specified in the import entry has been paid.
126(1)(e)Item 6
Clause 1 of Schedule 6
EDuty has been paid through manifest error of fact or patent misconception of the law.
126(1)(eaa)Item 7
Clause 1 of Schedule 6
EAAGoods are gaseous fuel.
126(1)(ea)Item 8
Clause 1 of Schedule 6
EAA decision has been reviewed by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal which held that the amount of duty payable (if any) is less than the amount of duty paid.
126(1)(eb)Item 9
Clause 1 of Schedule 6
EBThere is a reduction of the duty payable on goods entered for home consumption on which duty has been paid in consequence of a Customs Tariff alteration or an amendment of the Customs Tariff Act 1995.
126(1)(f)Item 10
Clause 1 of Schedule 6
FAfter duty has been paid, a by-law or determination has been made, or a Commercial Tariff Concession Order has been made, the effect of which is that duty is not payable, or duty is payable at a rate that is less than the rate that was applicable when the goods were entered for home consumption.
126(1)(fa)Item 11
Clause 1 of Schedule 6
FAThe price of the goods, used in determining the customs value, had a rebate, or other decrease which was not taken into account in determining the customs value [other than for Item 12, Clause 1 of Schedule 6)].
126(1)(g)Item 12
Clause 1 of Schedule 6
GThe goods are re-valued because of fault or defect in the goods, or because the goods did not conform to contract specifications given by the importer to the manufacture or supplier, which resulted in a rebate or decrease in the price which accrues to the importer and the rebate or decrease was not taken into account in determining the customs value of the goods.
126(1)(h)Item 13
Clause 1 of Schedule 6
HThe goods are re-valued as ‘Item 12, Clause 1 of Schedule 6’ but there is no rebate or decrease to the importer from the supplier, and all reasonable attempts at redress must have been sought.
126(1)(p)Item 14
Clause 1 of Schedule 6
PDuty has been paid on petrol and that petrol, in whole or in part, is returned to a warehouse or to a licensed manufacturer.
126(1)(r)Item 15
Clause 1 of Schedule 6
RDuty has been paid on goods that were first entered for home consumption at a time when a tariff concession order, made in respect of those goods, was in force or was taken to have come into force.
126(1)(x)Item 16
Clause 1 of Schedule 6
XDuty has been paid on a new or unused passenger motor vehicle that was used for evaluation/testing and then donated to an education institution
126(1)(y)Item 17
Clause 1 of Schedule 6
YDuty has been paid on an automotive component that is donated to an education institution.
126(1)(za)Item 18
Clause 1 of Schedule 6
ZADuty is payable on goods that are liquefied natural gas and are not intended for use in an internal combustion engine in either a motor vehicle or vessel.
126(1)(zb)Item 19
Clause 1 of Schedule 6
ZBDuty is payable on goods that are liquefied petroleum gas and are not intended for use in an internal combustion engine in either a motor vehicle or vessel.
126(1)(zc)Item 20
Clause 1 of Schedule 6
ZCDuty has been paid on goods and the effect of the amendments made by the Customs Tariff Amendment (Carbon Tax Repeal Act) 2014 is that duty is payable on the goods at a rate which was applicable when the goods were entered for home consumption.
126A105126AThe import entry relating to the goods is taken to be withdrawn under subsection 71F(2) of the Act because the person has changed the information in the entry.

International obligation refund reason codes

The below table describes the international obligation refund reason codes set out in Customs (International Obligations) Regulation 2015.

Customs Regulations
1926
Customs (International Obligations)
Regulation
2015
CodeCode description
126(1)(ra)23(b), 23(c), 23(d)RAThe interim duty paid is more than the interim duty payable.
126B 23(a) Item 2 of the table126BDuty has been paid on Thai originating goods (Australian-Thai Free Trade Agreement).
126C23(a) Item 4 of the table126CDuty has been paid on Chilean originating goods (Australia-Chile Free Trade Agreement).
126DA23(a) Item 6 of the table126DADuty has been paid on Malaysian originating goods (Australia-Malaysia Free Trade Agreement)
126D23(a) Item 8 of the table126DDuty has been paid on AANZ originating goods (ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement).
126DB23(a) Item 10 of the table 126DB Duty has been paid on Korean originating goods (Korean-Australia Free Trade Agreement).
126DAA23(a) Item 12 of the table126DAADuty has been paid on Japanese originating goods (Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement)
 23(a) Item 14 of the table23A13Duty has been paid on Chinese originating goods (China-Australia Free Trade Agreement)

Contact us

If you have further questions about a refund of your customs import duty email: cargosupport@border.gov.au.