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Old 23rd March 2004, 05:23 AM   #1
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Default Australians: importing stuff

WHat are your expereinces in importing stuff from overseas? What did you import,did they charge you duty tax, GST, etc...

especially interested in the poeple whose shipment is heavy and expensive (>$500)
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Old 23rd March 2004, 05:40 AM   #2
AKSA is offline AKSA  Australia
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TK,

If you import under $500 it will be delivered to your Post Office and 10% GST will be added to the declared value.

If you import between $500 and $1000, it's a relatively simple informal customs clearance, and you will be asked to pick it up from the Customs Postal Clearance Centre, which is very likely located near Mascot (ours in Victoria is spitting distance from Tullamarine). After filling out the form you will be asked for the receipt, as proof of payment. Either you will have it as an emailed or snail mailed document, or it will be inside the package and the Customs people will happily open it for you. You will have to find the 8 digit Customs catalogue number, which is available from the web (do a google, I've forgotten), and if it's electronic/speakers and is not made here, there will be no Customs impost, just the GST. The GST is payable on the value of the goods plus shipping and handling, and is, predictably, 10%.

Should the package be worth more than $AUD1000 (note the currency!) then the requirement is a formal customs clearance. This form is extremely complex, and talks airily of 'bills of lading' and other arcane terms, which are specifically designed to force you into the services of an importing agent, who will charge around 10% plus Customs costs just to get it through for you. In this situation you need half a day to do it yourself, and expect to be exasperated for at least one hour as you wrestle with all the strange terms. If there is no competing manufacture in Australia, Customs will charge $48.35 handling fee, then the GST on top of that. The Customs folk will give you some help, but you are generally left to flail about on your own until you are ready to axe someone. Then, out of self-preservation, they offer grudging assistance.

Moral: keep it under $AUD1000 TOTAL including shipping and handling, and if over, use an international courier like FedEx, UPS or TNT Express. These guys collect Customs imposts on your behalf, deliver to your door, and all you need is a chequebook to take delivery.

Cheers,

Hugh
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Old 23rd March 2004, 05:56 AM   #3
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Bend over...

Seriously, any item valued over approximately $200 will almost certainly attract the attention of Australian customs.

At a minimum, you'll have to pay GST, plus a fee. They may also add duty, depending on the item. All of this is charged on the shipping fees (certainly taxed at origin, too, and so doubly taxed) in addition to the goods.

If the shipment** exceeds $1000 AUD in value, they'll charge you another $50 and hand you an indecipherable Formal Customs Entry form to fill out and offer you no assistance in completing it. If you can't decipher it, tough. You can pay a third party to do this clearance, but that adds more $$$.

**defined as multiple cartons from the same origin, shipped on the same day, as I discovered after an unsuccesful attempt to avoid this by splitting a shipment

Now I generally underinsure and undervalue shipments where possible and accept the risk of loss. If you lose one shipment out of eight, you're still ahead of the game.
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Old 23rd March 2004, 06:28 AM   #4
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Well if you are importing something that is over the postal limit, but is under $1000 then I still have to fill out a formal customs clearance, correct?
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Old 23rd March 2004, 06:58 AM   #5
michael is offline michael  Australia
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I cannot make any direct comments as i have not ordered anything from overseas, but i have gotten prices from PE in USA, the postage is expensive, but it can still workout cheaper than buying here, but it may take a while for postage.

What exactly are you after, as you can get most stuff here through dealers, and there isnt much that there isnt a good alternative for.

regards
Michael
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Old 23rd March 2004, 07:26 AM   #6
AKSA is offline AKSA  Australia
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No, TK,

Have another read of my post. An informal clearance only.

Cheers,

Hugh
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Old 23rd March 2004, 07:33 AM   #7
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For non-postal items, the threshold is $250 not $1000.

http://www.customs.gov.au/site/index...d=5&nav_id=201


I am interested in importing a heavy package that weights over the limit for australia(44 pounds). Thus I cannot go post.



correct me if im wrong


trying to see if shipping a adire Sadhara or a tumult is feasible
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Old 23rd March 2004, 09:08 AM   #8
AKSA is offline AKSA  Australia
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TK,

You refer to this I believe:

Quote:
Although a formal Customs entry may be used, most imported goods, including gifts, valued at or below $1000 for those imported by post or $250 for those imported other than by post, can be cleared on an Informal Clearance Document. If the formal entry is used, a Customs processing charge would apply.
This is taken from the website you refer to.

Informal Clearance only for $1000 or below IF SENT BY POST, which was my clear inference.

If your package is more than 44lbs, then you will need to use an international courier. In that case, they will do all the Customs work for you, and you need only pay them.

You asked for advice on the matter, now you seem to challenge it. Why ask in the first place?

Cheers,

Hugh
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Old 23rd March 2004, 11:55 AM   #9
rabbitz is offline rabbitz  Australia
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I've imported heaps of items from the US & UK and have not paid any GST.

If I remember correctly the total value of the goods + shipping + insurance can be below A$500 which would have no GST, but A$500 would have A$50 GST. If the GST value is less than A$50, nothing is payable.

The largest value I've imported was A$220, GST=A$0.
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Old 23rd March 2004, 01:45 PM   #10
Al.M is offline Al.M  Myanmar
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I've had several experiences some good and some to tell my ancestors.

One time got a pair of on sale ATD Le Ribbon tweeters from E-speakers USA. Total cost was US$99+99 for tweeters, about $50 postage via UPS, with no apparent GST or customs although this may have been hidden in paper work between UPS & customs.

Another time got 2 Accuton C79 midrange units on sale from USA with costs of about US$350 drivers + appropriate UPS postage, total of about Au$700 costs, once again no visible GST etc.

Next time 4 Scanspeak 7" drivers from US ebay via USPS all total about US$220 plus $40 postage, this time definately no GST or customs. Interestingly at the same time, the Accutons were posted through UPS 5 day frieght vs the ebay stuff through USPS 6 week shipping and the USPS stuff arrived in 7 days, where as the UPS stuff came through in 14 days and cost about 3 times more!

Then another time a group order of Scanspeak 7" drivers for about Au$2300 from Audiocomponents.nl which obviously attracted a lot of blowflies from customs. At Perth airport customs I was advised of the following options similar to previous posters here:

1. 10% GST + customs charge;

2. I could choose to pay Au$57 for a customs officer to help me fill out the complicated form; or

3. Get an broker agent to help me with the form for about Au$150 and would be much quicker.

Note: GST is only on purchase price, not freight etc.

The rest is a sad and whining tale......

Obviously I chose option #2. So at day 1 I got the forms and took them home and tried to fill it out best I could, then day 2 returned and paid the $57 for customs officer counter assistance. As luck would have it I got the frumpiest looking and most obnoxious customs officer from hell. She attempted to assist me and constantly showed her disgust at the exercise, on numerous occassions dissappearing from the counter leaving me ask her colleagues where she had gone to help me plough throught the form. This went on for about 60 minutes, of which she only spent about 15 minutes real time with me. Had she applied herself it would have only taken 15 minutes, and pro-rata about $16 worth of hourly time. So I submitted the form and had to come back next day to pick the item up. So next day 3 at the counter got a more pleasant customs officer who proceeded to lecture me on how bad I had filled out the form and got things completely wrong, asking me who helped me with the form the previous day. Any way it turns out the original officer who helped me didn't know what she was doing being new and untrained, as I over-heard critisms behind her back from her colleagues at the counter. The 2nd officer although much more pleasant proceeded to lecture to me how it was always a bad idea to import items to Australia. By this time the amended form looked like a childrens crossword puzzle with cross-outs and lots of blotches every where.

Any way I got the items and was slightly curious as to why the package (80x40x25cm) was a little damp and flexible while loading it into the car. Got them home and ripped into the packaging which came off in paper mash chunks. Guess whot, the package was soggy and damp through and through. I can only guess they were laying on the tarmac at some foreign airport in the rain and probably wet for several days at least. All the drivers seamed to be OK once they dried out about a week later.

Thinking back on the culture and behaviour of the customs officers, I thought well they must have to put up with a lot of stupid ameture importers and hence their attitude is warranted. But hang on I'm also from an inspectorial proffession and we would never treat anyone in such an unproffessional and offensive manner. There is a difference between being assertively firm yet respectful to do the job and down right obnoxious and irresponsible.

Don't think I will ever be importing this value of stuff ever again.

However, I must say that the GST has made importing much cheaper than pre GST era where things were up to 50% on top of paid price.

IMO, if possible always try and get the item sent through USPS rather than Fedex or UPS. USPS is the equal of Australia post in the US and are much cheaper, although I am not sure on average if their delivery and handling is OK . See USPS.com website. And aparently the US post system is quite time consuming for senders so they may not be willing.

Thanks for reading my frustrated post if you stuck with it this far
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