Australian Government - Australian Customs and Border Protection Service

To protect Australia's borders and foster lawful trade and travel.

Tobacco - Frequently asked questions

What is the tobacco content in molasses before its considered tobacco?

Tobacco content means ‘anything (including moisture) added to the tobacco leaf during manufacturing or processing’ Refer to Australian Customs Notice 2008 / 31.

Duty is therefore calculated on the total net weight of the shipment. Goods and Services Tax (GST) is 10%. There are no preferential rates of duty for tobacco products.  

GST is calculated on (customs value of the goods + duty + transport and insurance) x 10%.

Why do I have to pay on my tobacco and cigarettes when they are a gift?

Tthe Passenger Allowance, if you are aged 18 years or over, is 50 grams of cigars or tobacco products or 50 cigarettes (under 0.8 gram each) tax free but duty and GST is payable on the whole amount if this is exceeded (you have more than 50 grams or more than 50 cigarettes).

If your goods are alcohol or tobacco and arrive by freight or unaccompanied then you do not have a duty free allowance and the gift concession is no longer in operation. The passenger concession is only for passengers. Goods under $1,000 imported by freight or post can enter free of taxes only if they are not alcohol or tobacco. Please see the Guide for Travellers on the Customs and Border Protection website for more information.

Description of the goods

Tariff classification

Duty Rate as at 1 September 2014

Permit Required

Un-manufactured tobacco

2401.10.00

$578.37/kg

Yes from ATO- only available for tobacco manufacturers. ACN 2004/31

Drum and roll your own tobacco

2401.20.00

$578.37/kg of

tobacco content

means (total net weight)

No

Cigarettes and cigars not exceeding 0.8gram,s per stick

2402

$0.46268/stick

No

Cigarettes and cigars exceeding 0.8gram,s per stick

2402

$578.37/kg of

tobacco content

No

Biddies

2402.20.20

$0.46268/stick

No

Herbal cigarettes not containing any tobacco

2402.90.00

Free

Maybe depending on what the ingredients are.

Molasses tobacco, Nakhla tobacco, Hubble Bubble

2403.10.70.

$578.37/kg of

tobacco content

No

Chewing tobacco & Oral Snuff

2403.99.80

$578.37/kg of tobacco content

Yes
Australian Competition & Consumer Commission
Phone(02) 6243 1262

Goods and Services Tax (GST) is calculated on (customs value of the goods + duty + transport and insurance) x 10%.

Can I import chewing tobacco and oral snuff / snuss / gutkha?

Oral snuff and chewing tobacco is a Prohibited Import under Regulation 4U and Item 5 of Schedule 12 of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations. This regulation reflects bans under the Trade Practices Act.

A personal exemption from a permit requirement of 1.5 kilograms exists on importations of chewing tobacco or oral snuff. Duty and GST is payable.

Note: The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer (the Minister) is responsible for issuing permits to importers of goods listed in Schedule 12 of the Regulations. The Minister receives policy advice from the Product Safety Policy Section of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). The ACCC will not however recommend a permit be issued for these goods on the basis that it would not be consistent with current government policies aimed at reducing tobacco use in Australia.

Through the airport:

Although 1.5kg may be imported without a permit, the passenger allowance is 50grams duty free but duty and GST is payable on the whole amount if this is exceeded.

The duty rate for snuss / snuff and chewing tobacco is $578.37/kg of tobacco content from 1 September 2014. Tobacco content means ‘anything (including moisture) added to the tobacco leaf during manufacturing or processing’ Refer to Australian Customs Notice 2008 / 31. Duty is therefore calculated on the total net weight of the shipment. Tariff item 2403.99.80. There are no preferential rates of duty for tobacco products.  GST is 10%.

GST is calculated on (customs value of the goods + duty + transport and insurance) x 10%.

For further information contact:

Product Safety Branch
Australian Competition&Consumer Commission
GPO Box 3131
Canberra ACT 2601
Phone(02) 6243 1262

My mother grows some tobacco at her home overseas. Can I bring some into Australia?

No. This product may only be imported by a licensed manufacturer with permission from the ATO. If these conditions are not met, the product is a prohibited import under Regulation 4D of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations. Permission to Import is given by the Commissioner of Taxation. See ACN 2004/31.

Contact details for permits are:

Tobacco Industry Group
Australian Taxation Office
GPO Box A288
SYDNEY SOUTH NSW 1235

Telephone: 1300 137 295
Facsimile: 1300 308 268
Email: ATO-EXC-Tobacco@ato.gov.au

Un-manufactured tobacco is not stemmed/stripped. This includes tobacco in the form of whole tobacco plants or leaves in the natural state, or as cured or fermented leaves.

Tobacco that is partly or wholly stemmed (classified to item 2401.20.00) is not prohibited.

The tobacco is subject to duty and GST. The duty rate at 1 September 2014 on un-manufactured tobacco is $578.37/kg and GST 10%.

GST is calculated on (customs value of the goods + duty + transport and insurance) x 10%.

Can I import unmanufactured leaf tobacco?

Unmanufactured tobacco is described as tobacco that is not stemmed or stripped. This includes tobacco in the form of whole tobacco plants or leaves in the natural state or as cured or fermented leaves.

Permission to import is required from the Commissioner of Taxation

Requests to import these goods should be addressed to:

Tobacco industry Group
Australian Taxation Office
GPO Box A288
SYDNEY SOUTH NSW 1235
Telephone: 1300 137 295
Facsimile: 02 9374 8585
E-mail: ATO-EXC-Tobacco@ato.gov.au

Can I import electronic cigarettes into Australia?

E-Cigarettes are comprised of an atomiser, battery and cartridge that may or may not contain a mixture of liquid nicotine and propylene glycol or polyethylene glycol. These forms of glycol are commonly used in pharmaceutical formulations and are not controlled.

Liquid nicotine, is scheduled as a 'Schedule 7 Poison' under the Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons (SUSMP).  As such, it is considered a substance with a potential for causing harm which requires special precautions in manufacture, handling or use.  Other substances listed in Schedule 7 include chlorine and arsenic.  The listing of a poison in Schedule 7 does not usually justify an import prohibition.

The Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) is responsible for the government policy on such issues and advised that all States and Territories have domestic controls on the sale of these products and they are prohibited for commercial purposes.

E-cigarettes (and/or their components) are not prohibited imports under Customs law.  However, they may be subject to control under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 if the packaging makes a claim about any form of therapeutic benefit.

If E-Cigarettes are detected at the border appearing to make a therapeutic claim, the goods may be referred to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The TGA will advise whether further action is warranted, whether any claims made are classed as therapeutic, and whether seizure is appropriate under their Act.

If no therapeutic claim is made, or the TGA determines that no action is warranted, the goods are released, as they are not controlled on importation. 

The onus is on the purchaser of goods from offshore websites to ensure that any goods they purchase are legal to import and possess under Commonwealth and State and Territory laws. 

Goods of this nature are not tobacco or tobacco products, and therefore are not subject to duty or GST if the Customs value is at or below the low value goods threshold of A$1,000.

Contact Details

Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)
Phone: 1800 020 653 or 02 6232 8444
Email:   info@tga.gov.au
Website: www.tga.gov.au