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Exporters know that each new market brings its own challenges.  Australia is no different.  While Australia does generally perform well on “ease of doing business” rankings, it performs badly when it comes to ease of international trade.  However, with a little preparation and the right advice, exporters can trade seamlessly with Australia.  Below are issues that all exporters should consider.

  • Contract with your customer/distributor – Australian Courts uphold contracts between parties.  Without a written contract, Courts will try to piece together a contract from emails and conversations. This can result in a high level of uncertainty.

  • Trademark/patent registration – Australia generally grants intellectual property rights on a first to register basis.  A common mistake by exporters is to worry about trademark registration once the brand becomes popular.  By this time, it is likely a third party will have tried to register the intellectual property. 

  • Existing trademark registrations – Trademark owners can register their trademarks with the Australian Border Force.  If the Trademark is registered and you attempt to import goods with that trademark, those goods may be seized.

  • Prohibited imports – Generally, an export or import license is not required.  However, there are a variety of goods that are prohibited.  Goods can be prohibited entirely, or the importer may require a permit.  For examples, goods containing any trace of asbestos are prohibited absolutely while tobacco products will require a permit.

  • Free trade agreements – Australia has free trade agreements with most of its major trading partners.  However, for most of these, the lower duty rates can only be obtained if the exporter provides the importer with a certificate of origin or declaration of origin.

  • Biosecurity – Australia has one of the world’s strictest quarantine regime.  Depending on the product, importation may require a permit, registration of the exporter, fumigation (or other treatment) and declarations from the manufacturer/exporter.

  • Importer of record – If the exporter is acting as the importer of record, such as under a DDP supply, the exporter may have to register for Australian goods and services tax.  A failure to do so may result in the foreign supplier paying 10% GST on the import which cannot be recovered.

  • Personal property security registration – If the exporter delivers goods before receiving payment, there is a risk that it may not be paid.  Australia has a system whereby you can register your interest in the goods.  This will provide some protection against third parties who acquire an interest in the goods after import.  For example, the Australia customer to who your importer sells the goods. Registration is simple and effective.

  • Labelling and country of origin claims – Australia has legislative requirements about what information must be included about certain goods.  For instance, there are strict country of origin labelling requirement for foods products.  Some products requiring labelling on the actual product, while for other products it is enough if labelling is on the packaging.

  • Warranties – If a product contains a manufacturer’s warranty, there is an Australian legal requirement that the warranty must contain certain prescribed wording. 

  • Product registration / Australian standards – Many products can be freely imported into Australia without any need for specific product registration or a requirement to meet a standard.  However, if registration is required, a failure to register can result in the goods being prohibited and their seizure.  Goods requiring registration include electrical appliances, medical appliances, certain chemicals and vehicles.

The above is a long list and can be daunting.  The key is to obtain advice early and work with experienced partners.  CGT Law can help with the above legal issues and can also connect exporters with experienced Australia customs brokers and freight forwarders.

Checklist - exporting goods to Australia: News & Updates
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