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Importing Personal Effects/Household Goods

importing personal goods to Australia

Importing Personal Effects/Household Goods

Clearing Your Unaccompanied Personal Effects and Household Goods

1. What are personal effects and household goods?

These include furniture, carpets and rugs, crockery, cutlery and kitchen appliances, food, shoes and clothing, books, garden tools, lawn mowers, bicycles, vacuum cleaners, dried flower arrangements, Christmas decorations (including pine cones), souvenirs and a range of other personal or household items. These items might be transported to Australia by a returning resident or a new resident of Australia as unaccompanied sea or air freight.

2. Why is Quarantine interested in these items?

Australia’s unique environment and important agricultural industries are free from many pests and diseases found in other parts of the world - but the movement of personal effects is one way these could be introduced. For example, outdoor furniture could harbour timber pests or be contaminated with soil or exotic weed seeds, while animal products such as meat, eggs, milk or cheese could contain diseases that could be transmitted to humans and other animals. AQIS - the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service - works to protect Australia’s natural and economic assets from these risks while facilitating the international movement of people and goods.

Because of these risks you must advise AQIS of specific items in your consignment. If necessary, AQIS will undertake an inspection of your goods, treat items that could contain pests or diseases, or seize and destroy prohibited items. You may also choose to re-export items of value.

Common items of quarantine concern include:

wooden items; food; soil on garden tools; vacuum cleaners with un-emptied dust bags; carpets; Christmas decorations; dried flowers; seeds; straws; skins; feathers; equipment used with horses or other animals; toys containing cotton waste, sand, straw or water.

3. What should I do when packing?

Information on bringing items of Quarantine interest to Australia is available through ICON, AQIS’s import conditions database. By searching ICON you can find if an item is permitted into Australia, if it requires an import permit or treatment, or if there are any other Quarantine concerns. Try searching ‘personal effects’ on ICON, which can be found at www.aqis.gov.au/icon, for further information.

When packing your personal effects, prepare a list that includes all the items in your consignment. This should include the package number (for example, Box 1) and a list of items contained in each package. Pack all items of Quarantine concern in one box to aid inspection of your goods.

Make sure all used cars and tyres, garden tools, outdoor furniture, lawn mowers, bicycles, sporting equipment, shoes and boots are free of soil and seed contaminants, and empty vacuum cleaner bags. Items with soil attached will be cleaned at your expense.

If items of quarantine concern are found among your personal effects they will be treated, and you’ll be billed for the cost of the treatment. Christmas decorations such as pinecones or dried flowers will be heat-treated: this could damage wreaths and decorations. 

Used fruit, vegetable and flower boxes, used egg cartons, straw and sawdust are prohibited imports. Do not use these items to pack your goods.

Timber items with evidence of insect infestation must be treated by fumigation before they are released. You may consider having these items fumigated before transporting them to Australia. Lists of acceptable and unacceptable fumigation providers outside Australia appear in Chapter 3, Sections 14 and 15 of the Containerised Cargo Clearance (CCC) scheme for FCL/X: CCC Manual, which can be found at the AQIS website at www.aqis.gov.au/cargobas.

4. How can I import my personal effects and household goods?

There are two ways these can be brought into Australia. The first and most common method is to use a removalist or mover that specialises in packing and transporting goods internationally. These companies, with worldwide affiliations, are a dedicated and professional group that can assist with the import of both sea and air freight. They generally charge a total door-to-door fee that may include the costs associated with clearing your goods through Quarantine (but not charges for treatments directed by AQIS).

Alternatively, you may choose to use a freight forwarding company to move your goods; once they arrive in Australia you can employ a customs broker who will facilitate the clearance of your goods through Quarantine on your behalf, or you can clear your goods yourself.

5. How do I clear my goods myself through Quarantine?

  1. Check with your freight forwarder that your goods have been delivered to a Quarantine-approved depot. The freight forwarder will levy a facilitation fee that includes port charges, transport, administration and container unpacking costs, and the depot holding your goods may charge storage and facilitation fees.
                        
  2.  It’s important you fill out an Unaccompanied Personal Effects Statement, which can be found (in English only) on the Customs web site. If you would like this form in a language other than English, call 1300 363 263 (in Australia) or + 61 2 6275 6666 (outside Australia), or email information@customs.gov.auYou can also obtain this form from your removalist or the Australian Embassy or Consulate in your country. There are penalties for providing false or misleading information on this form.
                
  3. Once you have received notification (usually by mail) from your freight forwarder that your goods are available for clearance, collect a delivery order from the forwarder.
                        
  4. Visit the Australian Customs Service Office in your state for Customs clearance of your goods.
                        
  5. Visit the AQIS Personal Effects Office in your state (see below for details) to present your packing list, your completed Unaccompanied Personal Effects Statement, delivery order and any valid treatment certificates. AQIS will examine your packing list for items of Quarantine concern and may ask questions about your goods. If someone else will be clearing your goods they will need to sign a statutory declaration indicating that they are doing so on your behalf. 
                                 
  6. All personal effects consignments are subject to Quarantine. Items of potential Quarantine risk will need to be inspected. Other goods coming from countries with identifiable Quarantine risks may receive a higher level of inspection. 
                                   
  7. If your personal effects require inspection a Quarantine Entry (a legal document issued under the Quarantine Act 1908) will be created at a cost and you will need to make an appointment for the inspection.  
                                   
  8. At the inspection you will be required to open and unpack your consignment (so you will need to bring along the necessary tools to do so, such as a crowbar and hammer). While you are present an AQIS officer will inspect your goods.   
                                                   
  9. Documentation charges for a manual quarantine entry and inspection of your goods will be charged as per the AQIS fee schedule outlined in the fees and charges for Import Clearance webpage. The fees that will apply to you are the fee for service rates for an unmanned depot or manned depot dependant on which region you have your goods processed in.
                                           
  10. Following inspection your goods may be cleared, items of Quarantine concern held for treatment, or prohibited items seized and destroyed. You may also choose to re-export items of value. 
                                  
  11. Treatments include steam cleaning for the removal of soil contamination, fumigation of timber items to destroy insect pests, and heat treatment to devitalise plant material. A Quarantine-approved provider who will levy the charge directly to you or through the depot facilitating the treatment service must apply treatment.  
                            
  12. You are responsible for transporting your goods once they have been cleared.
                                                            

Please note that special requirements apply to clearing personal effects that belong to military and diplomatic personnel.

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