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Published on 10 May 2017



The following information for the import/export of books into Australia is offered as advice only. It is, to the best of ANZAAB’s knowledge, correct at the time of printing.  Booksellers are strongly advised to make their own enquiries as to the current validity of the information offered and/or seek advice from the ANZAAB Treasurer.

All items imported into Australia with a value of greater than $A1000 will attract a tax (GST) of 10%. In general, items imported by mail, sea or air cargo with a value of less than A$1000 (including freight) are released direct to the consignee without the imposition of GST. All items (except for a very few specified) sold in Australia, must show a price inclusive of the GST (legal requirement).

In Australia, Customs agencies are normally situated close by airports. If a book is held for payment of GST by Customs, the following charges should be considered as they may make unprofitable - GST @ 10%, Customs agent’s fees, personal travel costs to collect the book.  Where freight services are used, it has been found that the Australian Customs Service may direct the parcel automatically to a Customs Agent who charges a fee for any services, plus GST if applicable.  Parcels can be personally cleared by consignees for a fee, if the correct codes are used in completing the required forms.


Where large amounts of books are imported for the purpose of exhibition at Book Fairs, they will attract the imposition of GST (currently 10%), as outlined above. However, there are a number of ways of importation to minimize or avoid this cost.

ANZAAB has an arrangement with the Australian Tax Office regarding the GST payable for the import and export of books destined for ANZAAB Book Fairs in Australia. Information for this is available from the ANZAAB Treasurer.  This process involves ANZAAB nominally accepting responsibility for the GST and reclaiming it back after the Book Fair and with knowledge of the GST value of the books retained in Australia by customers at the Book Fair.  ANZAAB will bill the bookseller directly for the GST.  ANZAAB believes this is the best option for dealers attending book fairs in Australia.

Import the books (together with a detailed list of titles and prices) after completion of a form under the Customs Act and pay the 10% GST on the total. On export this form must be re-presented detailing the items not re-exported and GST will be charged only on the portion sold and the balance refunded. This action could be time consuming.  

Apply at your local Chamber of Commerce, or at such office in your own country that issues Carnets. In Australia, this is The Victorian Employer's Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) which handles Carnets Australia-wide.  Apply for an ATA Carnet or "Admission Temporaire". Pay a fee to the Chamber of Commerce and the temporary Carnet charge which is designed to cover the total (10%) expected import charge.  Present the Carnet on arrival to clear goods, and again on export. Your Chamber of Commerce will retain the GST charges applicable to books sold and the refund the balance.

Import the books under an ATA Carnet and re-export the total imported, thus only paying the Chamber of Commerce fee.

The usual and best approach for managing sales at the Book Fairs in Australia is to include the book sold with your returning stock, mail the book back (enclosing invoice with declared value) to each client, who may or may not have to pay the GST depending on declared value. This seems to be the method adopted by booksellers at Book Fairs worldwide.



Australia is very strict in its enforcement of imports and exports. For this reason, it is important that these rules are carefully followed.

There are three other laws that affect the import/export of books in Australia and it should be noted there are a number of prohibited imports, subject to regulations laid down by Environment Australia.  These include books that are bound using certain animal products, such as ivory, tortoise shell, furs, fish, insects and some other animal products (either live or preserved). Plants, flowers and plant products and materials (these include pressed or otherwise preserved plants and plant products eg seeds), etc. As prohibited imports, they may be seized and destroyed by Customs (Department of Immigration and Border Protection) on arrival in Australia.  In some cases, these products and items may be allowed to enter Australia BUT appropriate authority MUST be obtained prior to their arrival in Australia (so get approval before the item is sent. For this information consult

It is also best to avoid wherever possible importing items into Australia using wooden boxes or wood based packaging. Australia has very strict quarantine laws and wooden products can be fumigated or confiscated. Some highly processed wood products will be allowed through but other items may not be. Importers  are strongly advised to check the regulations at before consigning books in wooden boxes or similar into Australia. 

Items that constitute part of Australia's Protected Cultural Heritage, such as early documents, diaries and maps are divided into two categories, with those in Category A being totally banned from export. Those in Category B require a permit on Export. Applications may be made to the Ministry for the Arts (see  

It is forbidden to hold or deal in Estrays in Australia. Estrays are Public Records no longer in the control of the Records Office.  A public record is a record created by a public officer in the course of duties: or made or received by a Court or Person acting judicially: or created or received by a Minister of the Court acting in that capacity: or a copy of a public record. No length of time shall bar the rights of the Crown in relation to ordering delivery to the Archives Office. The Records Office in each State, controls records of that State.


(ANZAAB - published 09.02.2016;  revised 10.5.2017)

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