Australian Government - Australian Customs and Border Protection Service

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

Importing and clearing goods that arrive by international mail (post)

If you receive parcels in the mail from overseas you are the importer of those goods.

All imported goods including mail articles are assessed for community protection risks, permit and approval requirements. Examples of imported goods which may pose a risk to the community include:

  • gas and electrical goods that do not meet Australian safety and technical standards, or
  • children's toys or playthings with a coating that contains excess amounts of toxic compounds such as lead, arsenic and barium.

All imported goods (whether for commercial purposes or for personal use) are also assessed for duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) and other taxes and charges that may be applicable.

As well as Australian Customs and Border Protection Service controls, all imported goods are also subject to the controls the Department of Agriculture.

Where goods are of no interest to us or the Department of Agriculture, they will be delivered by Australia Post to the relevant post office for delivery to the address on the postal article.

Prohibited or restricted goods

If your goods arrive in Australia by mail and require a permit or approval or are restricted or prohibited under any Commonwealth law, we may hold the goods until you can produce a permit or approval to import the goods.

If you have imported prohibited or restricted goods, regardless of value, you will receive an Information Sheet (Seizure of Prohibited/Restricted Imports) from us to advise you that those goods are held. It will tell you why your goods are held, what you need to do and who to contact for assistance.

Goods with a declared or assessed value not exceeding AUD1,000

If your goods arrive in Australia by mail and have a declared or assessed value of AUD1,000 or less, the goods may be imported free of duty, taxes and import processing charges, unless they are alcohol and/or tobacco products. Those goods will be cleared by us and delivered by Australia Post without you doing anything.

If the goods you imported are alcohol and/or tobacco products, see information below.

Note: When goods are assessed for value, we may require evidence of the value of the goods.  In this case, you will receive a letter requesting you to provide evidence to substantiate the declared value.

If accepted, your goods will be delivered to you by Australia Post.

If not accepted, a formal import declaration may be required.

Goods with a declared or assessed value over AUD1,000

You will be sent a First Notice by Australia Post if you have imported goods with a declared or assessed value of more than AUD1,000.

In this case, you need to lodge an import declaration to us for the goods. The declaration will be assessed for duty, GST and Wine Equalisation Tax (if applicable). An import processing charge will also apply. After you have lodged your import declaration, we will advise you of the amount you need to pay before your goods will be delivered to you.

We cannot allow goods with a value over AUD1,000 to be delivered by Australia Post until an import declaration is made and any liability for duty, taxes and charges is paid in full. There may also be permit and Department of Agriculture requirements to be met before Australia Post can deliver your goods.

Alcohol and tobacco products

If the goods you imported are alcohol and/or tobacco products with a value of AUD1,000 or less, we will send you  a tax invoice.

The information sent to you will provide payment advice. Once payment is received from you, we will advise Australia Post to deliver your goods. If the goods have a value of more than AUD1,000 then you must lodge an import declaration. We will advise you of the amount you need to pay before your goods will be delivered to you.

If you prefer not to pay the duty and GST and you want the goods returned to sender, you should contact Australia Post on 13 13 18.

Gifts sent to you

There is no longer a concession for goods sent as a gift. Goods that are gifted, donated, loaned or supplied free of charge are still subject to assessment for duty and other taxes and charges if they have a value of more than AUD1,000 or if the goods are tobacco and/or alcohol products.

If you are unable to provide evidence of the value of the goods, the legislation (the Customs Act 1901) provides other ways of determining value.

Personal or private use imports

All imported goods are subject to assessment for duty, GST and other taxes and charges even if you imported those goods for your own use. If the goods you imported have a value over $1,000 you will need to lodge an import declaration and pay any duty, GST or other taxes and charges that may apply.

Lodging and finalising an import declaration means the goods are ‘entered for home consumption’. The term ‘entered for home consumption‘, used by Customs and Border Protection, means goods were declared and cleared from Customs control in accordance with Customs law for delivery within Australia.

One parcel for one importer

If a parcel (one consignment) addressed to you contains goods or other packages that were imported for other people (such as your friends or relatives) and the parcel has a declared or assessed value exceeding AUD1,000 you will need to lodge an import declaration and pay the duty, taxes and charges for all the goods in that consignment. Customs law does not permit a parcel to be split or broken down into separate packages for assessment, even when those other packages were imported for other people.

Receiving a First Notice from Australia Post

Australia Post will send you a First Notice if it holds a parcel or parcels addressed to you that:

  • have/has a declared or assessed value over AUD1,000; or
  • contain/s tobacco and/or alcohol products.

If you have received a First Notice see information below on lodging an import declaration.

Returning goods to sender

If you take no action within 30 to 45 days of receiving a First Notice then Australia Post may return the goods to the sender.

If you do not want to pay the duty and GST and you want the goods returned to sender then you do not need to do anything.

Lodging an import declaration

You can lodge an import declaration in the following ways:

  • Have a licensed Customs broker lodge an import declaration  on your behalf. Customs brokers can be located in the local phone directories or by searching the internet; or
  • Complete an Import Declaration  (N10) – Post  (Form B374) yourself and lodge it by email, mail, or fax or lodge it in person* with Customs and Border Protection (international mail imports only); or
  • Lodge a full import declaration by completing an Import Declaration (N10) – Form B650.This form is a more comprehensive form that allows for multiple types of goods, multiple uses of concessions, exemptions and other instruments not usually associated with goods imported by international mail.

* You can only lodge your declaration in person at certain Customs and Border Protection offices. Please call 1300 363 263 for the nearest location where you can lodge an import declaration in person.

If you are an Australian Business Number holder and you intend to defer GST, you are required to be registered for GST deferral with the Australian Tax Office. If you defer GST, you may only lodge import declarations electronically through the Integrated Cargo System.

We are prohibited from completing, filling out or making an import declaration for you but we will provide guidance and direction to assist you as much as possible.

More information about import declarations can be found in the fact sheet Import Declarations.

Making enquiries about your parcel/s

Australia Post is the carrier of international mail. If you want to track your parcel or make an enquiry about delivery of your parcel please contact Australia Post on 13 13 18.

If you want to make an enquiry about an import declaration or a payment you have made to Customs and Border Protection contact us on 1300 363 263.

If you have any enquires relating to biosecurity matters please contact the Department of Agriculture on 1800 020 504.

Import Declaration (N10) - Post (Form B374)

The B374 form is in an Adobe® PDF format which can be completed on screen by typing your responses into the appropriate text fields. 

When completed, the form (and other attachments) can be sent by email.  This is considered a formal declaration. Note the requirements below for sending this completed declaration (B374) by email – no signature is required however:

•        For an individual you must include your full name separately in the same email.

•        For an organisation, the name of the organisation and the ABN of the organisation must be included separately in the same email as well as the full name of the individual sending the email.

If you prefer, you can print the completed form with your typed responses or the blank form can be printed and filled out by hand. Then you can lodge the form by mail, fax or in person with us. You must ensure you sign the declaration if you chose any of these lodgment options.

Most of the information required to complete an import declaration (Form B374) is provided on the First Notice (Australia Post Notice) you have received or within the commercial documents you hold regarding your purchase.

You can declare different types of goods in your parcel/s on the one import declaration.

You can also claim concessional treatment on your imported goods if applicable, and you know the relevant item number and/or a respective by-law found in Schedule 4 of the Customs Tariff Act 1995. Concessional treatment may also be applicable under a Free Trade Agreement.

Follow the instructions (B374 Form Instructions) carefully when completing the import declaration form.  Do not leave any boxes blank unless those boxes are marked as optional.

It is an offence to make false declarations to Customs and Border Protection.

How do I value my goods?

If you paid for the goods in a foreign currency please ensure you show the amount and the currency in which you paid for the goods.

What is the tariff classification of my goods?

All import declarations require a tariff classification for your goods (Customs Tariff Act 1995).  For help working out the tariff classification/s for your goods use our guide.

Contact details for lodging your import declaration

Email:                   postimportnsw@customs.gov.au

Fax:                      (02) 8339 6708

Postal Address:      Locked Bag 3000  SYDNEY

On lodgment of your import declaration, you are required to quote the reference number provided on your First Notice.

Making enquiries about your parcel/s

Australia Post is the carrier of international mail and has sole responsibility for delivery of your postal article. For enquiries regarding the delivery of your parcel, contact Australia Post on 13 13 18.

For enquiries regarding an import declaration or a payment you have made to Customs and Border Protection, contact us on 1300 363 263.

For enquiries regarding biosecurity matters, contact the Department of Agriculture on 1800 020 504.

Methods of Payment

We will calculate any customs duty, GST and other charges applicable to the goods that you are importing based on the information that you provide on the Import Declaration – Post (N10) Form (B374). You will receive a Postal Import Declaration Payment Advice listing these charges.

The Payment Options section located at the bottom of the Payment Advice details all options available to you.

More information about payment options can be found at Paying Customs and Border Protections invoices.

Please note:

  • We do not accept personal cheques for the payment of a Postal Import Declaration Payment Advice; and
  • We will pass on merchant fees for credit/debit card payments. This fee is not subject to GST and is equal to the fee that we incur from our banker.

How long will it take to clear my goods?

Please allow up to five working days from receipt of completed documents for us to process your import declaration.  It may also take up to three working days to process any payments you make.  When your goods are cleared from Customs control, your parcel will be delivered to you by Australia Post.  For more information on our service standards see Service Standards 2014

Communicating electronically with us

If you are a regular importer it may be beneficial for you to communicate electronically with us using the Integrated Cargo System (ICS). To do so you need to obtain a digital certificate. A digital certificate is a verifiable means of identifying an entity communicating directly with our systems.

Communicating with Customs and Border Protection provides more information on using the ICS.