Importing from USA

Submitted: Friday, Feb 18, 2005 at 22:57
ThreadID: 20570 Views:4253 Replies:10 FollowUps:2
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Can someone tell me what's involved in ordering stuff from USA in terms of GST, import duties etc? Is there a duty free threshold and if so what is it?
Thanks in advance
Mark
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Reply By: Mark R - Friday, Feb 18, 2005 at 23:14

Friday, Feb 18, 2005 at 23:14
Should have made it clear, I am only talking small purchases, say up to US$1000 max
AnswerID: 99029

Reply By: Anthony from Anglyn Promotions - Friday, Feb 18, 2005 at 23:59

Friday, Feb 18, 2005 at 23:59
Hi Mark,

I import goods from the USA a few times a year.

If the goods come in by airmail, they need to be cleared through customs, with import duty and GST being paid.

I have found that if the goods come in by sea mail, ( very slow, up to 3 months to get here) it does not tend to need to be cleared, and thus no import duty and GST.

If the goods are large items, and get shipped over, you will need to clear them using an import agent. This will cost you at least $ 495 to do a clearance and port charges. Some port charges are based on volume, with a minimum charge.

It all depends on what you are importing.

I hope this helps.

Regards

Anthony Taylor
AnswerID: 99037

Reply By: cj - Saturday, Feb 19, 2005 at 07:47

Saturday, Feb 19, 2005 at 07:47
4wd parts attract 5% duty + GST. if you have them posted you can do your own clearance and if under $400 (I think) they don't tend to bother charging you. I've got stuff coming at the moment and it's broken into a couple of shipments and being sent days apart to avoid paying $$$
AnswerID: 99039

Reply By: Lone Wolf - Saturday, Feb 19, 2005 at 07:52

Saturday, Feb 19, 2005 at 07:52
I, like probably most others here, have simply ordered small items direct through the net.

So far, all has been good.

With software, and small peripherals, that are simply not available here in Aus, there doesn't seem to be any problem. Gets here in about 2 days on Fed Ex. You can track the package on the net.

Books and other welding publications have been also no problems, and again, get here real quick.

Clothing.....

I have bought small items, and they take forever to get here. The sender has to sign this declaration saying the material is all okay, and doesn't have germs, etc., and then it comes via boat, they won't ship via air.... don't know why.

All in all, I have been more than satisfied. I don't buy from the states to save money, because you won't. The credit card companies whack on a overseas transfer rate thing, then your postage, etc.

I buy, simply because I cannot obtain here.

I am not up to speed with all the taxes either..... if I have to pay, so be it, I just want the book, or product.

I guess if you are an importer, and reseller, it is different.

Wolfie
AnswerID: 99040

Follow Up By: Moggs - Saturday, Feb 19, 2005 at 08:44

Saturday, Feb 19, 2005 at 08:44
Re: Savingmoney - It depends on what credit card you use. I have always found that I make significant savings when purchasing in the US. You need to use a charge or credit card that doesn't use a carded rate of exchange. I always use American Express and the AUD/USD exchange rate is always close to market at the time of conversion. The only thing you need to make sure of is that the seller doesn't fleece you on the freight charge. If you are getting carded rates of exchange from your credit provider maybe look at changing to another provider.
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FollowupID: 357420

Reply By: Peter 2 - Saturday, Feb 19, 2005 at 08:48

Saturday, Feb 19, 2005 at 08:48
I've bought heaps of stuff on Ebay, direct from websites, by phone etc and have found that for small stuff good old US Airmail is the cheapest way, takes 4-5 days usually. Up to around ten pounds weight will set you back about $us40 for packing and postage.
Heavier stuff comes by surface mail (ship) and will take anything up to 8 weeks but usually around 5-6.
As long as you stay below $us200 customs never worry about duty.
If stuff is more expensive either send in smaller parcels or shock/horror talk to the supplier ;-)))
For payment you can go credit card direct, Paypal or bidpay, the latter two for ebay type stuff.
Peter
1996 Oka Motorhome

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AnswerID: 99043

Reply By: vanaway - Saturday, Feb 19, 2005 at 09:42

Saturday, Feb 19, 2005 at 09:42
I have started buying through the net and there are some fairly simple rules.

Customs has a great web site with a section for us punters buying over the internet.

http://www.customs.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=4376

Grant
AnswerID: 99047

Reply By: Scubaroo - Saturday, Feb 19, 2005 at 11:26

Saturday, Feb 19, 2005 at 11:26
I actively import from the US on a monthly basis.

If coming by mail (USPS), there is a $1000 AUD threshold (the USD value is meaningless) before formal customs clearance is required. This usually requires the services of a customs broker, such as Danzas, who charge around $120, plus any GST, customs duty, and a ~$49 customs fee. Often you may just receive a GST bill from the post office if the value of the goods is between $500-$1000 AUD, and you just rock up to the post office to pay it and collect your package.

Sometimes Customs decides to charge you duty even if it's less than $1000 AUD (depending on how foul a mood the guy doing the processing is), in which case you can lodge an informal clearanace document via fax, and pay by credit card. This is a pain, but manageable.

If the goods come in by courier (eg DHL, UPS, Fedex), ther threshold is reduced to only $250 AUD, but the cost of the courier shipping *should* include the customs brokers fee, so only GST, customs duty and ~$49 customs fee is payable. You're gauranteed to be assessed this way, so if regular airmail is an option, and it's under $1000 AUD (not USD), airmail is the best way to go unless you realy need the stuff in less than a week.

Thanks to the Free Trade Agreement coming in place on Jan 1st, if the goods are manufactured in the US, you can skip the 5% or 10% customs duty, as long as the package is clearly marked "Goods manufactured in the USA" or words to that effect. Say you buy something made in Canada via the US, you're still liable for the duty. GST is still payable regardless of the FTA.

The USD value is converted into AUD value on the day it arrives in the country, Customs have a set of official exchange rates on their website that must be used. So at the moment the dollar is around 0.78 USD, so anything around $780 USD total (including the cost of shipping) is pretty much going to be slugged.

cheers
AnswerID: 99056

Follow Up By: jackablue - Saturday, Feb 19, 2005 at 20:12

Saturday, Feb 19, 2005 at 20:12
"Sometimes Customs decides to charge you duty even if it's less than $1000 AUD (depending on how foul a mood the guy doing the processing is), in which case you can lodge an informal clearanace document via fax, and pay by credit card"

Nothing to do with a foul mood. If it is under the $1000 AUD like you say It also has to be less than a total of $50 AUD in duty & gst. For you not to pay.

& with that gift idea post down further, that is only up to $200 AUD in value from an individual to an individual.

Of course some thing are waived through if close to these amounts.
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FollowupID: 357450

Reply By: Member - Blue (VIC) - Saturday, Feb 19, 2005 at 14:57

Saturday, Feb 19, 2005 at 14:57
I ordered a new speedo from the states for my motorbike. It was shipped by US postal and landed here with a declaration on the box, the supplier had marked the item as a "GIFT" When I opened the box I had my speedo and a birthday card but no invoice. I emailed the supplier and he assured me the invoice was on it's way and the "gift" thing was to avoid duties and the like. Two days later the invoice arrived and all was well.
AnswerID: 99077

Reply By: Mark R - Saturday, Feb 19, 2005 at 15:29

Saturday, Feb 19, 2005 at 15:29
Hey Guys,

Thanks one and all for your advice and the benefit of your experience.

Best wishes to all,

Mark
AnswerID: 99078

Reply By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Saturday, Feb 19, 2005 at 18:09

Saturday, Feb 19, 2005 at 18:09
I bought a truck air tank and a set of firestone Air Spring Helpers (poly airs) from the US, air freighted all in the one box and didn't pay a cent customs or GST.
AnswerID: 99089

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