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Import Rules for Sporting Goods in Australia: Answering Your Questions


Import Rules for Sporting Goods in Australia

Australians love their sport, from soccer and AFL to athletics, swimming, cycling, bushwalking and yoga. With a diverse range of sporting activities and an active lifestyle ingrained in its culture, Australia offers a lucrative platform for sporting goods imports. It’s therefore no surprise that the Australian market is a thriving domain for sporting products, currently boasting a value of approximately USD $1.25 billion.

However, importing these sporting goods into Australia can be overwhelming and confusing. From packaging and labelling to customs regulations and documentation requirements, it can be difficult to fully understand and get across the process required to ship these products onshore. And unfortunately, any mishaps in complying with these rules can lead to delays and increased costs in your supply chain.

If you’re a business looking to import sporting goods into Australia, and want to understand what import rules apply, then you’re in the right place. Below, we’ll outline how sporting goods are classified, what documents and licences you’ll need, and other critical information you’ll need to ensure a seamless import.

Classifying sporting goods for import

All sporting goods imported into Australia from overseas will need to have their own tariff classification under domestic tariff law, being the Customs Tariff Act 1995. Each import must be given an HS Code, which is a 6-10 digit figure that must be given to all Australian imports.

There is no general classification for “sporting goods”. Instead, there are thousands of HS Codes which are applied to very specific goods from shoes and sporting vehicles to gym equipment and soccer balls. Codes may also differ depending on the country you are importing from, especially if Australia has a free trade agreement with that country.

Some examples of sporting goods classifications under the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), for example, include:

  • 9506.11.00 – Snow skis
  • 9506.32.00 – Golf balls
  • 9506.51.00 – Lawn-tennis rackets (whether or not strung)
  • 6404.19.10 – Footwear of a kind used solely or principally in conjunction with diving dress or wetsuits

It is important to consult with an experienced custom broker to help you ensure that the sporting goods you important are properly classified.

Do I need a license to import sporting goods into Australia?

No. There is no general license you need to import goods into Australia, and this includes sporting goods. However, you may need to acquire a permit to clear some types of sporting goods, depending on what they are.

Restricted and Prohibited Sporting Goods

There are a number of sporting goods that cannot be legally imported into Australia without a permit, and some goods you cannot import into the country at all.

Firearms are one of the most common restricted sporting goods, which are used in Australia for sports such as clay shooting, paintball or hunting.

It is unlawful to import firearms, including accessories and parts of firearms, ammunition, magazines and even imitation firearms without permission from either a state or territory police force of the Department of Home Affairs. You will need to show these authorities that you are importing these goods for a legitimate purpose.

You can read more about importing firearms here: Firearms | Australian Border Force

You can read more about prohibited and restricted goods here: Prohibited goods | Australian Border Force

What documents do I need?

When your goods arrive at customs, the Australian Border Force will be carefully looking to ensure that you have all required documents necessary for a seamless import.

There are various documents you will need in order to lawfully and properly import your sporting goods into Australia, including:

The commercial invoice is a fundamental document that outlines the transaction details between the buyer and seller. It includes crucial information such as the names and addresses of the buyer and seller, a detailed description of the sporting goods being shipped, unit prices, total value, payment terms and currency used for the transaction.

Customs authorities in Australia use this document to assess the value of the goods and calculate applicable duties and taxes.

Packing lists provide an itemised inventory of all the products within a shipment. It complements the commercial invoice by detailing the quantity, weight, dimensions, and packaging specifications of each item you are shipping.

Customs officials use packing lists to verify the contents of the shipment and ensure that they match the details provided in the commercial invoice (and other documents).

A packing declaration is a document that declares whether the imported goods comply with specific packaging and quarantine requirements of Australia.

This document is especially important when importing products like wooden items (for example, wooden baseball, ping pong or cricket bats), which must adhere to strict regulations to prevent the introduction of pests and diseases into the country.

For example, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (as it was then known) published an information sheet in 2016 that recognised larvae of the Drywood longicorn beetle (the teak trunk borer) was often detected in sporting goods like cricket bats and stumps.

Certificates of origin (COO) provide evidence of the country in which the sporting goods were manufactured.

Depending on the trade agreements in place between Australia and the exporting country, certain goods may be eligible for preferential treatment, reduced tariffs or exemptions.

A properly completed COO is usually necessary to claim these benefits.

  • Any applicable declaration

You will also need to find out if the sporting product you are importing requires any further declarations, which will usually depend on the nature of the good you’ve purchased.

For example, you may need to ensure you have an asbestos declaration or information on fumigation or BMSB treatment if your product requires it for import.

  • Any applicable permits

As indicated above, certain restricted goods will require express permission from police or the Department of Home Affairs for import. This will include goods such as firearms, firearm parts, ammunition and firearm accessories.

Customs duties and taxes for sporting goods

You will need to ensure that you pay the appropriate level of duties and taxes for any sporting goods you import into Australia.


Generally, your customs duty will amount to 5 percent of the value of the goods you are importing.

Your customs duties will be calculated by customs when your goods arrive in Australia. It is important that you are well aware of what your duties will be before your goods arrive in the country so that you can ensure there are no unexpected surprises or delays at the border.

All sporting goods will be liable for duties unless a specific exemption of duty concession applies. For example, tax concessions orders (TCOs) may reduce your duty to zero, or reduced customs duties and exemptions may apply in a free trade agreement.

A licensed customs clearance agent can help you work out the amount of customs duties you’ll have to pay on any sports equipment you import.


You will need to pay Goods and Services Tax (GST) on the sporting products you import into Australia. These amounts will be calculated by the Australian Border Force.

Generally, you will need to pay 10% GST on the value of your taxable importation.  Tax legislation in Australia provides that the value of your taxable importation will include:

  • The customs value of your goods
  • Any payable duty
  • Transport and insurance costs
  • Wine Equalisation Tax (if applicable)

You can minimise the levels of taxes you pay when importing goods by obtaining GST exemptions and GST deferrals.

Can I import used sporting equipment into Australia?

Yes, it is lawful to import used sporting equipment into Australia as long as you comply with the regulations that apply to importing goods generally. Used goods will still be inspected by Australian quarantine authorities.

This includes ensuring you have the proper documentation relevant to those used goods, they are classified correctly and you pay the appropriate levels of duties and taxes.

Note that you may be required to present a cleanliness declaration at customs if any of the used goods have soil or organic residue on them. However, this will depend on the particular circumstances and will differ on a case-by-case basis.

What are the packaging and labelling requirements for sporting goods?


It is important to make sure that when importing sporting equipment from overseas that they are packaged according to requirements set by the federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (the government authority responsible for managing biosecurity risks).

This will include:

  • Using a container that is free of contamination (including things like soil, grain, plant or animal material)
  • Providing a packing declaration (as discussed above)
  • Ensuring all timber materials have been treated
  • Using correct packaging materials such as plastics, metal frames, double walled boxes and synthetic foam (and not prohibited materials like straw)

If you are shipping your sporting equipment by aircraft, then please read our guide to correctly packing air freight.


A wide range of sporting goods will need to be labelled correctly with a trade description when being imported into Australia. If they are not, then the Australian Border Force may seize them at the border.

Your products will need to be labelled with trade descriptions if they are specified in the federal Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act 1905 and the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Regulation 2016.

Trade descriptions will need to include statements as to how the goods are made produced, packed, selected and prepared. The descriptions must be prominent, legible, in English and specify the names of the country of manufacture. They may also require a so-called “true description”.

Some goods requiring labelling will include:

  • Sporting goods including footballs, boxing gloves, golf bags, punching bags and balls
  • Textile products (which may include sporting clothes)
  • Sports shoes
  • Bicycle saddles

Need help importing sporting goods into Australia?

In light of Australia’s passion for sports and adventure, the demand for high-quality sporting goods and equipment continues to soar. Successfully entering this market demands meticulous preparation and compliance with strict import regulations. Understanding packaging standards, compiling accurate documentation, and navigating customs requirements are crucial elements for a smooth import.

At International Cargo Express, our team stands ready to be your trusted partner in this journey. As both a reputable freight forwarder and customs broker, we possess the expertise and knowledge to streamline your importation process, ensuring efficiency, minimising delays, and optimising costs.

With a commitment to excellence and a global network of logistics partners, we are poised to assist you in bringing your exceptional sporting goods to the Australian market. Our services are tailored to facilitate each step of the process, enabling your products to reach the hands of eager Australian fitness and sporting enthusiasts.

If you need assistance importing your sporting goods into Australia, please reach out to us at one of our various offices across Australia.

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