Australia is often described as the most beautiful place on earth and, although admittedly somewhat biased, I would be the first to agree. The size of the continental United States, the country boasts a diverse landscape – from tropical rainforest to barren desert, fertile valleys and alpine resorts, to endless miles of sandy beaches and of course, the Great Barrier Reef. In addition to the natural beauty with which it’s been blessed, Australia is also home to a number of cosmopolitan cities that are attractions in themselves.
Wherever your expats are relocating to in this great country, they’ll find the following customs information useful:
Household goods and personal effects
Normally, US expats may import household goods and personal effects into Australia free of duty and tax if they have owned and used these items overseas for at least 12 months prior to their departure for Australia. They must complete Customs Form B534, and provide it along with a photocopy of their passport to the Australian moving company handling Customs clearance.
New household goods or personal effects
Any items not owned and used in the US for at least 12 months prior to departure must be declared on Customs Form B534. These items are subject to duty and tax at the rates applicable when the expat enters Australia.
Antiques and precious metal objects
If these items are part of the expat’s bona fide household goods removal, they are handled in the same manner as used household goods and personal effects.
Expats may only import firearms as part of their household goods consignment if they have been issued a firearm license from the Australian Police Authority for the area in which they will reside. Firearms must also pass ballistic examination by the Commonwealth Police. Expats considering importing a firearm into Australia should first seek approval in writing from the Police authority in their destination location.
Alcoholic beverages may be imported as part of a household goods consignment, but the expat must provide a detailed listing of each bottle, including its size, type of alcohol, and alcohol content by volume. Duty and tax will be assessed on the alcohol at prevailing rates.
Food items should not be included in the expat’s household goods shipment.
Motor cars and motorbikes
Importing motorcars or motorbikes into Australia is fairly complex, and anyone contemplating doing so is best advised to contact an international mover for the latest information. However, here’s a brief explanation based on the Australian Customs Notice 92/206: In order for a vehicle to be brought into Australia as a “personal import,” it must have ben owned and used by the importer for at least three months prior to being shipped to Australia. All cars and motorbikes are subject to duty and tax, which can be quite high. The Customs value of the vehicle can be determined by depreciating the purchase price (as long as this was a “fair market price”) by 5% for the first month of ownership and use, and 1% for each month thereafter, to a maximum depreciation of 76%. Tax and duty is then assessed on the Customs value, based on the type, age and value of the vehicle. Normally, left-hand drive cars can not be imported.
The entry of expats’ household goods and personal effects must be approved by both Customs and Quarantine officers. Australian moving companies with Customs-approved facilities will have consignments brought to their warehouses. Usually, the Customs and Quarantine officers carry out their task at the moving company’s warehousing, making a physical inspection if deemed necessary. Quarantine officers are particularly interested in preventing the import of soil, foodstuffs, or borers, so they scrutinize garden items, bikes, kitchen items, rattan and other wooden items.