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Protocol Guidelines

6.1 Customs duty exemptions

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.

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.This form can be submitted to act.op.command@abf.gov.au.

6.1.2 Import of tobacco products

Tobacco products, such as cigarettes, shisha/molasses tobacco and loose-leaf tobacco, can be imported both by individuals (diplomats, consular officials and privileged individuals) and organizations (missions, consulates and posts) with an import permit. The import permit is issued by the Department of Home Affairs — see 1537 - Application for permission to import tobacco (abf.gov.au). This permit must be obtained prior to import. Questions about the permit can be directed to permits@homeaffairs.gov.au.

Concessional limits for the import of tobacco products exempt from customs duties and taxes apply. Missions, posts and privileged individuals should continue to submit the Australian Border Force (ABF) form B615 — Application for Release of Goods from Customs Control to Diplomatic and Consular Personnel available on the ABF website. Questions about the process to seek customs duty exemption can be directed to act.op.command@abf.gov.au

6.1.3 Customs Identification Number

Missions, posts and privileged individuals should contact the ABF's ACT Regional Office at act.op.command@abf.gov.au 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.

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