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Guide to using A-HKFTA to export or import

Summarised step-by-step guide to obtaining preferential tariff treatment when exporting or importing goods using the Australia-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement (A-HKFTA)

The following is a summarised step-by-step guide aiming to assist Australian exporters and importers to take advantage of preferential tariff treatment under A-HKFTA. 

For more detailed information on claiming preferential tariff treatment under A-HKFTA:

  • Refer to the DFAT publication titled a “Guide to obtaining preferential tariff treatment when exporting and importing goods using the Australia-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement (A-HKFTA)” Refer to the word or PDF documents on this page.
  • the Department of Home Affairs publishes a guide and other information to assist importers. For more information, see the Australia Border Force — Free trade agreements

Users of this summarised step-by-step guide should note that where reference is made the DFAT website and FTA text and schedules, they should visit the Australia-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement and navigate to the relevant part of the text on the electronic version of the guide.

This summarised step-by-step guide is intended to provide guidance only, and is not to be read as legal advice or similar.  DFAT does not guarantee, and accepts no liability whatsoever arising from or connected to, the accuracy, reliability, currency or completeness of any material in this summarised step-by-step guide or any linked Government or other website.  Users of this should exercise their own skills and care with respect to the information and advice in this summarised step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Identify the tariff classification of your goods

The first step to determining whether a good receives preferential tariff treatment under A-HKFTA is to correctly identify that good. In A-HKFTA, goods are identified by reference to an internationally recognised system known as the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, commonly referred to as the Harmonized System (HS). The HS is a common goods classification system of more than 5200 six‑digit product categories. It is arranged into 97 chapters covering all tradeable products. Each Chapter is divided into Headings, which can be divided into Subheadings.

Exports from Australia

Australian exporters and producers may seek such advice or information from the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department. Your importer in Hong Kong or your customs broker may be able to assist you with this process.

Imports to Australia

If you are importing goods into Australia and would like advice or information on these topics, please contact the Australian Border Force (ABF). More information can be found at the Australia Border Force — Free trade agreements.

The FTA Portal is a user-friendly Australian Government website that provides easy access to information for exporters, importers, and other stakeholders seeking to access the benefits from all of Australia’s free trade agreements (FTA). The FTA Portal is the easiest way to determine the preferential FTA tariff rate on your product. See the Free Trade Agreement Portal for more information. It is searchable by key word or HS code, and contains current and future tariff rates for both imports and exports. The FTA Portal also contains information about whether your product is likely to meet Rules of Origin (ROO) requirements.

Step 2: Determine whether your goods meet Rules of Origin (ROO) requirements

Under A-HKFTA, Australia and Hong Kong have agreed to eliminate all customs duties on originating goods of the other Party. These goods are free of any customs duty from the date of entry into force of the agreement. A-HKFTA ROO are agreed criteria used to ensure that only the goods intended to be covered by A-HKFTA receive preferential treatment.

Imports into Australia or Hong Kong that do not comply with the ROO as set out in Chapter 3 (Rules of Origin and Origin Procedures) and Annex 3‑B (Product-Specific Rules of Origin) may be subject to the applied most favoured nation (MFN) rate of duty. For Australian goods imported into Hong Kong, the applied MFN rate of duty is currently zero. Accordingly, A-HKFTA ROO will generally only be relevant for imports from Hong Kong to Australia that would, but for A-HKFTA, be subject to Australian tariffs. Further information on the Rules of Origin chapter can be found at Chapter 3: Rules of Origin and Origin Procedures.

A-HKFTA Rules of Origin (ROO) are agreed criteria used to determine the originating status of a good and its eligibility for preferential treatment under the agreement. Only goods that meet the A-HKFTA origin criteria receive A-HKFTA preferential rates of customs duty set out in the importing Party’s Tariff Schedule. This prevents countries other than Australia and Hong Kong from gaining preferential benefits under A-HKFTA.

What is an originating good?

A good may be considered to be A-HKFTA originating if it is:

  • wholly obtained or produced entirely in the Area of one or both of the Parties by one or more producers as established in Article 3.3 (Wholly obtained or produced goods); or
  • produced entirely in the Area of one or both of the Parties by one or more producers, exclusively from originating materials; or
  • produced entirely in the Area of one or both of the Parties by one or more producers using non‑originating materials provided the good satisfies all applicable requirements of Annex 3‑B.

Goods must also meet all other applicable requirements of Chapter 3. For example, goods transiting through countries other than Australia or Hong Kong must comply with Article 3.15, which covers transport through non-Parties.

There are other important factors to take into account when determining whether your good qualifies as A-HKFTA originating, including: the de minimis rule; accumulation; indirect materials; transport through non-parties; fungible materials; and acc.essories, spare parts, tools and instructional materials.

Step 3: Prepare a Certificate of Origin for your goods

Once you have gone through the first three steps and determined that your good will qualify for preferential tariff treatment under A-HKFTA, you will need to complete the appropriate documentation to demonstrate this to the importing customs administration. This is done by completing a Declaration of Origin.

Declaration of Origin

Under the A-HKFTA, an importer may make a claim for preferential tariff treatment based on a Declaration of Origin completed by:

  • the importer;
  • the exporter;
  • the producer; or
  • an authorised representative (of the importer, exporter or producer).

There is no requirement for third party certification under A-HKFTA. However, as noted above, exporters, producers and importers may choose to have an authorised representative complete a Declaration of Origin. A Declaration of Origin under A-HKFTA does not need to follow a prescribed format. However, it must be in writing (electronic format is acceptable) in English and satisfy the minimum data requirements set out in A-HKFTA Chapter 3, Annex 3‑A.

The minimum data requirements include the Declaration of Origin being signed, dated and accompanied by a written statement. This written statement could be included on a company letterhead or an invoice, or it could be part of a standalone declaration document.  A Declaration of Origin is valid for one year after the date it was issued or for such longer period specified by the laws and regulations of the Importing Party. A Declaration of Origin can apply to a single shipment or multiple shipments of identical goods (within the period of validity of the declaration).

Record keeping

Under A-HKFTA, an importer, exporter or producer who completes a Declaration of Origin must maintain all records necessary to demonstrate that the good is originating, for a period of no less than five years from the date of importation of the good. Importers claiming preferential tariff treatment must also maintain for 5 years documentation related to the importation, including the Declaration of Origin.

Records can be retained in any format, provided they can be promptly retrieved if required. A-HKFTA Chapter 3, Article 3.22 provides details on record keeping requirements.

Waiver of Declaration of Origin

A Declaration of Origin is not required when the customs value of the importation does not exceed AU$1000 (or Hong Kong equivalent) or any higher amount as the importing Party may establish. A party can also unilaterally waive the requirement for a Certificate of Origin 

Verification

The Customs administration of the importing Party may need to verify the information contained in a Declaration of Origin. The approach they follow for such verification is outlined in A-HKFTA Chapter 3, Article 3.23. Verification activities may involve:

  • written requests for information from the importer of the good;
  • written requests for information from the exporter or producer of the exporting Party;
  • requests that the customs administration of the exporting Party assist in verifying the origin of the good;
  • verification visits to the premises of the exporter or producer of the good.

Refunds and claims for preferential tariff treatment after importation

Under A-HKFTA, importers may apply for preferential tariff treatment after the import has taken place. In that case, importers can seek a refund of any excess duties already paid, provided the good would have qualified for preferential tariff treatment at the time of importation. Importers have at least one year to apply for a refund.

As a condition for claiming preferential tariff treatment after import, the importing Party may require that the importer:

  1. has paid the non-preferential rate of duty on the good;
  2. make a claim for preferential tariff treatment;
  3. provide a statement that the good was originating at the time of importation;
  4. provide a copy of the declaration of origin; and
  5. provide such other documentation relating to the importation of the good as the importing Party may require.
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