Missions, posts and privileged individuals can import or purchase goods free of customs duty for:
- official use — for the reasonable requirements of the mission or post, or
- personal use — for the reasonable personal requirements of the individual or a dependent family member of the individual’s household in Australia.
To qualify for customs duty exemptions, administrative and technical staff and consular employees must import or purchase the goods within six months of arriving in Australia.
Customs duty exemptions are not available to Australian citizens, including dual nationals, or permanent residents (unless they have been appointed as honorary consuls, in which case they are entitled to limited exemptions — see section 6.3). Customs duty exemptions are available only at the time goods are cleared from customs or released from bond. Customs duty cannot be refunded after it has been paid.
6.1.1 Direct imports
In addition to customs duty exemptions, missions, posts and privileged individuals can also gain exemptions from Goods and Services Tax (GST),Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) and Luxury Car Tax (LCT) for goods they import directly from overseas. Applications to release directly imported goods (except motor vehicles — see Chapter 7) free of customs duty, GST and WET should be submitted (together with shipping documents or invoices) using Australian Border Force (ABF) form B615 — Application for Release of Goods from Customs Control to Diplomatic and Consular Personnel, which can be obtained by email request to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
6.1.2 Customs Identification Number
Missions, posts and privileged individuals should contact the ABF’s ACT Regional Office at email@example.com to obtain a Customs Identification Number to claim customs duty exemptions, for instance on personal effects and motor vehicles. This is available after Protocol Branch completes arrival arrangements, including issue of identity cards.
Administrative and technical staff and consular employees must quote their mission’s or post’s Customs Identification Number when importing personal effects (other than motor vehicles — for which an individual number is required) after arriving in Australia.
Customs clearance of goods from bonded warehouses or duty free shops is normally handled either by the warehouse or shop owner, or by a licensed customs broker.