Customs Duty on imported books, microforms and CDs

There is no requirement for companies or individuals to hold an import licence. However, depending on the nature of the commodity, and regardless of value, owners may need to obtain permits to facilitate clearance of goods.
Customs produces a number of booklets, brochures and fact sheets dealing with various aspects of the importing process. Contact a Customs Information Centre on 1300 363 263 and a copy will be mailed to you.
A useful overview of Customs procedures is available in the booklet Customs Guide for Business which is available free of charge from any Customs Information Centre.

Import Entry Costs

A customs import entry must be lodged for goods above the following values:

  • Postal: $1000 per consignment
  • Non-postal: $250 per consignment.

Consignments valued at or below these amounts may be cleared on an approved form Informal Clearance Document which is available at Customs offices.

Cost recovery charges apply for the processing of entries. Schedule of Customs Cost Recovery Charges.

Further information on the cost of processing entries is available from your nearest Customs Information Centre

The minimum documentation required to be submitted with customs import entries or Informal Clearance Documents includes an air way-bill or bill of loading, invoices, and any other papers (including packing lists, insurance documents, etc) relating to the shipment.

The Customs Act 1901 requires importers to retain commercial documents relating to a transaction for five years from the date of entry. These documents may be required for Customs audit purposes. Failure to meet the requirement may attract a penalty of $2000.


While there are several methods of valuing goods for Customs purposes, the method most applied (transaction value) is based on the price actually paid (or payable) for the imported goods subject to certain adjustments.

Duty Rates

Rates of duty payable by an importer are determined by the classification of goods within the Australian Customs Tariff. Advice on general duty rates can be obtained from your nearest Customs Information Centre, and this is best done before goods are ordered from overseas.

Indirect taxes

GST applies to most imported goods. There are few exemptions from the GST, the main ones being certain basic foodstuffs, some medical aids and appliances and imports that qualify for certain customs duty concessions.

GST is applied at 10% of the value of the taxable importation. The value of the taxable importation is the sum of:

  • the customs value of the imported goods, and
  • any customs duty payable, and
  • the amount paid or payable to transport the goods to Australia and to insure the goods or that transport, and
  • any wine tax payable.

The following example shows how GST liability is calculated:

Customs value
Customs duty @ 5% x $1,000
International transport and insurance
Wine tax (if applicable)
GST @ 10% x $1,200
Total payable (Customs duty + GST)

The Australian Business Number

If importers have an Australian Business Number (ABN) they will need to supply it to Customs when formally entering goods. Importers need to be registered for GST purposes and have an ABN in order to claim input tax credits or access the GST deferral scheme.

For advice on any GST matters, including registration, deferral and claiming of input credits, contact your local taxation office.

Commerce Trade Descriptions

Importers are required to ensure that goods entering the commerce of Australia are correctly marked. Customs administers truth in labelling provisions which makes it an offence to knowingly apply, or for imported goods to carry, false trade descriptions.

A false trade description means any description which by addition, deletion or any other treatment is likely to mislead on matters such as weight, origin, manufacturer, preparation, contents, copyright, etc.

For more details visit the Customs website where much of the material can be downloaded.