Fact Sheet: Tariff Duty Refunds

By Margaret Bux
clock 6 min

Are you eligible for a tariff duty refund?

The information contained in this fact sheet is a guide only and you should seek independent expert advice to determine whether you are eligible for a refund.

Download a PDF version of this fact sheet here.

What are import duties?

When you import goods into Australia you are required to provide a detailed description of the items to determine their correct classification so Australian Customs can determine the amount of import duty, if any, you are required to pay on those items.

Customs import duty and indirect taxes are collected through the Integrated Cargo System (ICS) on a full import declaration (FID), self-assessed clearance (SAC), or periodic return (return), which you submit prior to or at the time of importing.

Am I eligible for a refund?

There are many reasons why you may be entitled to a refund of customs duties paid. The most common reasons are that the goods were incorrectly classified, or concessions such as existing free trade agreements weren’t included at the time of import.

A person may be entitled to a customs duty refund under Section 163 of Customs Act for some or all of the money paid on imported goods if meet any one of the circumstances described in the Customs Regulations 126 provided below

Common circumstances include:

  • Revision of goods classification and changes to the import entry for those goods;
  • The goods have deteriorated or been damaged, lost, stolen or destroyed before being exported from their point of origin and arriving in Australia or while waiting for Customs clearance;
  • The goods have been damaged or destroyed while undergoing treatment required to meet provisions of the Quarantine Act, such as fumigation;
  • Goods with a Certificate of Origin from specific countries which have Free Trade or Developing Country Agreements with Australia including US, ASEAN, Chilean & NZ.

You can view the full regulations at:

A summary of these circumstances is included in the PDF Fact Sheet – download it here.

How can I check that previous imports were correctly classified?

There are many factors that are included in the calculation of the correct tariff classification for goods, which can include the country of origin as well as the physical description of the items.

A licensed customs broker can advise you on the best classification for your items and any concessions that may apply, or you can review the full Working Tariff online, including applicable concessions & trade agreements at

How do I claim a refund?

The “owner” of the goods may apply for a refund by making amendments to the full import declaration under which the goods were cleared into Australia.

Most often these amendments are lodged by licensed customs brokers on your behalf, but you are able to complete the process yourself by completing a Refund Application form (B653). This form is available at

You will need to supply

  • Copy of Import Declaration, Invoice & Shipping documents such as B/L
  • Documentation to support claim (ie, Certificate of Origin, Technical Data Sheets etc..)

 Who is the “owner” of the goods?

It’s important you make sure you are shown as the “owner” of the goods on the original import declaration documents before you make a refund claim.

Often importers enter into a purchase agreement with an overseas supplier that includes all importation costs and delivery of the goods to the purchaser. In this instance the original supplier will be the one who lodges the import declaration documentation and will be listed as the “owner” at the time of importation, therefore they are eligible for any refund that may apply.

How long do I have to make a claim?

Generally you have a period of four years from the date of import to apply for a refund. This timeframe certainly applies for reclassification of goods.

For goods that are damaged, destroyed or deteriorated you generally need to lodge a refund application within 14 days of the goods being released from Customs or Quarantine, or notification of damage from the supplier or agents in the country of origin.

It is important to check regulations carefully around the Free Trade Agreements and ensure your goods are correctly classified and meet the time frames these agreements have been in place.


The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and the Department of Agriculture provide accreditation and licenses to private Customs Brokers so that they may assist businesses in navigating the complicated processes of importing goods into Australia.

Clarke Global Logistics is a licensed Customs Broker and has accreditation through the Department of Agriculture to advise on and oversee the process.

Photo by Claire L. Evans


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