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‘Customs’ can boost your business

This article was originally published via

Many manufacturers might not know that Australian industry saves around $1.8 billion each year in concessions or duty not paid — by companies benefitting from the Tariff Concessions System, administered by Australian Border Force. This is the first in a series of articles by the ABF to help manufacturers understand that ‘customs’ officers can help them improve their businesses’ bottom lines.

Readers will be more than familiar with customs duty imposed on imported goods, the amount determined by the goods’ tariff classification. Importing manufacturers can obtain duty-free entry for goods through Free Trade Agreements and use of duty concession schemes, such as the Tariff Concession System.

The Australian Border Force administers the Tariff Concession System (TCS) to help Australian industry and reduce costs to the general community where the imposition of a tariff serves no Australian local manufacturer, i.e. where no substitutable goods can be produced locally. Businesses large and small benefit from reducing duty by applying for a new Tariff Concession Order (TCO) to be created or by using an existing TCO.

There are approximately 15,000 TCOs registered as of December 2022. The reason there are so many TCOs is that each order must contain a precise description of the goods covered, and a tariff classification. If a type of goods is not covered, a new TCO can be applied for and if successful, created by the ABF.

When applying for a new TCO to be created, applicants need to make a formal application and provide evidence of reasonable grounds for the order. The ABF receives more than 500 new TCO applications each year from importers for goods from around the world but especially from countries not covered under a Free Trade Agreement.

Machines of all types are the most commonly applied for TCOs — range from ice cream machines to packing and labelling to milling machines, and the ABF is happy to receive a new application for any good that is imported and duty paid.

Whether you are importing a component for a good manufactured here in Australia or a machine to upgrade production capability, or an integrated system, a TCO could be beneficial. The range of TCOs is extensive, covering everything from wheel nuts or tape or wood chippers to a complete materials handling system, all imported duty free.

TCO applications are reviewed as outlined in a two-stage legislated process. Stage one assesses the validity of the application. Stage two requires the ABF to determine whether a new TCO will be made up to 150 days after acceptance of an application and publishing in the Commonwealth of Australia Tariff Concessions Gazette.

"The ABF receives more than 500 new TCO applications each year."

A TCO decision in stage two is based on the information contained in the application, subsequent submissions from the applicant, any objections from local manufacturers to the proposed TCO, and the results of any additional enquiries made by the ABF.

A weekly Commonwealth of Australia Tariff Concessions Gazette (the Gazette) publishes all new applications for and successful applications of TCOs. Subscribing to the Gazette is free and can be requested by sending an email to

To satisfy reasonable grounds all applications must be submitted on the approved form, be accompanied by clear illustrative descriptive material (IDM), and include comprehensive documentation that the applicant has undertaken enquiries to determine whether local manufacturers exist who can supply substitutable goods. The ABF welcomes new applications and looks forward to helping industry with new TCOs.

Visit for information on Tariff Concession Orders or to view the Gazette online.

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