Export Procedures in Australia and New Zealand

SHANGHAI – Recent free trade agreements (FTAs) in the Asia-Pacific have brought more attention to the region’s various export policies.  Two nations that have worked towards signing new deals in recent years are Australia and New Zealand.  Most notably, Australia has signed FTAs with China, Japan and South Korea in the past nine months, whilst New Zealand has secured an FTA with South Korea and is reportedly working towards a slew of new FTAs with various other Asian countries.

These FTAs are indicative of increasing trade between Australia/New Zealand and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region.  As such, in this article we take a close look at the export procedures and policies that Australia and New Zealand currently have in place.


Australia has laws that prohibit the export of certain goods either absolutely or conditionally.  Prohibitions and restrictions are in place to protect the community, protect the environment, and meet obligations under international treaties, conventions, and agreements to which Australia is signatory. Goods are separated into two categories – Prohibited Goods and Restricted Goods.

Prohibited Goods

Prohibited goods may not be exported under any circumstances. Applicable items include wildlife, some heritage items, and selected weapons.

Restricted Goods

Goods that are restricted can only be exported if a permit is obtained from the relevant agency. When receiving an Export Permit, the exporter will receive a permit number that must be correctly shown on an Export Declaration (more on this below).

RELATED: Australia-Asia Trade on the Rise

The export of some restricted goods entails other requirements.  These are called prescribed goods and mainly include food products such as dairy, live animals and fish. Prescribed goods must be prepared at premises registered to and approved by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS).

AQIS requires that the premises be appropriately equipped, operated in an effective manner, and meet certain standards of hygiene.  Export operations of prescribed goods can only begin once notification of approval by AQIS and the relevant overseas government authority has been received.  Prescribed goods also require an Export Clearance Number (ECN) in order to be cleared by Australian Customs.

Recently, AQIS has been shifting product inspection to a Quality Assurance (QA) system where exporters have greater responsibility over their products when it comes to quality and compliance with overseas governments.

Export Declarations   

All goods with a value of AU$2000 or more must be declared to the Australian Customs Service via an Export Declaration.  An Export Declaration is a statement submitted to Customs and Border Protection that contains information about the goods and export transaction.  The statement contains information about the buyer and seller, the date of export, and a permit for conditionally prohibited goods.  The Export Declaration can be lodged either electronically or manually.

Goods that are exempt from declaration include personal effects, pets, Australia Post mail, Australian domestic cargo containers, and military goods that are property of the Australian government.

If the details of an export shipment change, it is the exporter’s responsibility to notify Customs and Border Protection.  Export Declarations may be amended at any time after lodgment.

RELATED: Australia Secures Far-reaching Benefits in Free Trade Agreement with China

Prescribed Federal Assistance to Exporters

There are some Federal programs that offer financing assistance to Australian exporters.  The Australian Federal government and state governments can help exporters through a number of government grants, loan facilities and reimbursement schemes.

The Export Finance Insurance Corporation (EFIC) is the Australian government’s export credit agency.  It provides finance and insurance to help Australian exporters overcome financial barriers as they grow their businesses overseas.  EFIC does this by providing loans, guarantees, bonds and insurance.

Australia’s Customs also has assistance schemes available for Australian industry.  The most notable is the Duty Drawback Scheme, which enables exporters to get a refund of Customs duty paid on previously imported goods that will be treated, processed or incorporated with other goods that will then be exported from Australia.  Only the legal owner of the goods can claim the Duty Drawback.

Duties and Export Revenue

There is no export duty on goods exported from Australia.  In addition, there is no Goods and Services Tax (GST) on exported goods as long as the supplier exports them within 60 days of either the date a payment is made for the goods or, if earlier, the date on which the supplier provides an invoice.   If the goods are paid for in installments, it is either the date on which the final instalment is paid or, if earlier, the date on which the supplier provides an invoice for the final instalment.

New Zealand

New Zealand’s export trade is regulated by the New Zealand Customs Service.  They work with and on behalf of other Government agencies to control and protect the passage of commercial goods out of New Zealand.

Prohibited and Partially Prohibited Exports

Certain goods cannot be sent out of New Zealand, and are prohibited for export for a variety of reasons.  Most commonly these are harmful products that could be considered a danger to animals and humans. However, there are also some items that are prohibited in order to protect New Zealand’s trade, cultural heritage, and agricultural economy.

RELATED: New Zealand’s Business Sector Pushes for a Slew of New FTAs In Asia

Primary products, especially those produced by the agricultural, forestry and fisheries industries, are considered a statistically significant and a financially critical sector of New Zealand’s economy and are prohibited accordingly. Butter and cheddar cheese, for example, can only be exported into the EU by the New Zealand Dairy Board Ltd or other approved exporters.  All other exporters have to be registered with the Ministry for Primary Industries in order to export animal products such as meat, fish and honey.

Export Documentation

Most goods exported from New Zealand need to be cleared by Customs by lodging either an Export Entry Clearance (EEC) or Electronic Cargo Information (ECI).  The exporter needs to be registered before they lodge the export documentation.  The type of entry depends on the free on board (FOB) value of the goods being exported and on if there will be a drawback (more on this below) on previous duty.

The Export Entry Clearance must be submitted if the free on board (FOB) value is more than NZ$1,000. The ECI can be used if the value is less than NZ$1,000 or if a drawback is being claimed. The clearances require the exporter to provide detailed information about the goods and their destination. When the clearance is submitted is also when clearance fees and any security procedures will be determined and undertaken.

Customs Charges

Certain goods may incur a fee when taken out of New Zealand if they require Customs Inspection.  One fee is the Export entry transaction fee.  This says that a fee of NZ$12.01 (GST inclusive) is payable on every export entry for goods exported under an approved secure exports scheme.  The fee is NZ$17.94(GST inclusive) on every export entry for goods not exported under an approved secure exports scheme.

The other fee is an outward cargo transaction fee.  This fee is NZ$11.51(GST inclusive) for goods exported by air and NZ$28.83 (GST inclusive) for goods exported by sea.

RELATED: New Zealand and South Korea Conclude FTA Negotiations 

Assistance to Exporters

The most common form of assistance available in New Zealand is a Drawback. This is when previously imported goods are being exported and the already incurred import duties, excise duty, and occasionally the GST can be reimbursed.

Another big source of financial assistance is from the New Zealand Export Credit Office (NZECO).  The NZECO provides financial guarantee products for New Zealand exporters and banks.  The goal of the program is to improve the competitiveness of New Zealand exporters.  One of its main activities is to mitigate repayment risk when a buyer cancels a contract or defaults on payments due to events beyond the exporter’s control.

They also secure overseas export contracts and try to help exporters gain access to trade, finance and bonding facilities.  Usually this is done by working in partnership with the exporter’s bank.  The NZECO is located in the government’s treasury but its maximum liability is NZD$740 million.

About Us

Asia Briefing Ltd. is a subsidiary of Dezan Shira & Associates. Dezan Shira is a specialist foreign direct investment practice, providing corporate establishment, business advisory, tax advisory and compliance, accounting, payroll, due diligence and financial review services to multinationals investing in China, Hong Kong, India, Vietnam, Singapore and the rest of ASEAN. For further information, please email asia@dezshira.com or visit www.dezshira.com.

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