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Frequently asked questions

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What is a Customs tariff?

A Customs tariff is a government levy on product entering a country and can be used to protect local industry.

The international Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System is the six digit classification which the Combined Australian Customs Tariff and Statistical Nomenclature and the Australian Harmonized Export Commodity Classification are based.

The Harmonized System (HS) is a broad classification system of approximately 5000 six-digit headings, which are used for classifying goods involved in international trade. It has been adopted as the basis for describing and classifying goods for Customs purposes by most trading nations.

When determining overseas tariff rates you will need to obtain the Australian HS Codes for each product/service. The process for obtaining Australian Harmonized Export Commodity Classification (AHECC) advice is as follows:

An 'Application for AHECC-Exports Advice' form is available on the Customs website. Exporters requiring AHECC advice should download and complete the form, then email it to aheccadvice@customs.gov.au.

The form will indicate that any samples and/or supporting information relating to the application should be sent to:

Manager Tariff and Valuation
Customs House
Locked Bag 3000
10 Cooks River Drive
Sydney International Airport
NSW 2020
Fax: (02) 8339 6714

Samples may be delivered in person or by post. Supporting documentation may be provided to Customs by fax, email, post or delivery to the Tariff Counter, during business hours, in the main Customs Office in the applicant’s State/Territory. The samples will be returned after the AHECC advice has been provided. The service standard for completing requests for AHECC advice will be five working days from receipt of all relevant information.

Once you have the relevant HS codes, Austrade can assist you in determining the destination country tariff. If there are several HS code items to check, you should email them using info@austrade.gov.au.

Exporters are advised to contact the Customs office of the destination country for verification and information on other import regulations. Contact details for most destination countries are available from Austrade's country profiles (select country and from the Contents page select 'Tariffs/regulations' under Doing Business).

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