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Importing Lighting into Australia: The Complete Guide

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lighting

Lighting is in high demand in Australia. The market is expected to reach a market volume of US$2 billion by 2028. Businesses import lighting products from overseas for many reasons, ranging from lower manufacturing costs to achieving economies of scale through bulk ordering.

However, the logical process of importing lighting is complicated. Australia has stringent customs and biosecurity regulations that require careful navigation. This includes compliance with packaging requirements, ensuring all documentation is in order and classifying each product correctly. Any mishaps in complying with these rules can lead to increased costs and delays.

If you’re looking to import lighting into Australia and need to understand the rules that apply, you’re in the right place. This article will walk you through the process step-by-step.

Classifying lighting for import

All lighting products imported will need their own tariff classification under the Customs Tariff Act 1995. This is the national customs legislation of Australia. Each product must be assigned its proper 6-10 digit number, known as an “Harmonised System Code” (or HS Code). These codes, developed by the World Customs Organisation in the 1980s, are a requirement for every product you bring into Australia.

There is no general classification for “lighting”. Rather, there are thousands of HS Codes which are applied to very specific goods, including lighting. This includes products such as signaling equipment or lighting, lamps or lighting fittings. Codes may also vary depending on the import destination.

Here are some examples of lighting classifications under the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA):

8512.10.00      Lighting or visual signaling equipment of a kind used on bicycles

9405.30.00   Lighting sets of a kind used for Christmas trees

9405.20.00   Electric table, desk, bedside or floor-standing lamps

8513.00.00    Lamps

If you speak to an experienced custom broker, they will be able to help you ensure that the lighting you import is correctly classified.

Packaging and labelling requirements for lighting

Packaging

Lighting devices such as lamps will need to be carefully packed so that they do not collide into one another and break.

We generally recommend wrapping your lighting in bubble wrap with cotton buffering, and placing it into corrugated packaging to protect against external shock.

If you’re shipping your lighting via an air freight service, please read our essential guide to packing air freight.

Labelling

Some lighting is required to be labelled with a ‘trade description’. This simply means a description as to how the goods were made, selected, packaged and prepared. Electric incandescent lights are an example of lights that require such a description.

Trade descriptions must be prominent, legible, in English and specify the names of the country of manufacture. This is a requirement under the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act 1905 and the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Regulation 2016.

Documents required to import lighting

When your goods arrive in Australia, they will be inspected by the Australian Border Force. In particular, they will check to see if all your customs documentation is in order. If it’s not, your goods may be delayed and, at worst, directed for export.

These are the documents you’ll need:

Commercial invoice

This is the ‘cornerstone’ of trade documentation. The commercial invoice outlines the detail of the transaction specifics, with pivotal data such as the addresses of both parties, an elaborate account of the lighting being dispatched, prices, value, currency and the terms governing payment.

Australian customs authorities will use this document to calculate applicable duties and taxes.

Packing list

The packing list acts as a detailed outline of the content of your freight. It itemises information such as quantities, weights, dimensions and packaging specifications.

Customs officials will rely on your packing list to corroborate the shipment contents against the information in your commercial invoice and other accompanying documents.

Packing declaration

This document declares whether your goods comply with Australia’s packaging and quarantine laws.

Australia recognises that there is a high risk of unwanted pests and diseases entering the country, from the stink bug to the teak trunk borer.

The packaging declaration is therefore critical if you’re importing items made of wood, such as wooden lamps or timber lighting.

Certificates of origin

Certificates of origin will certify the country your lighting goods were manufactured.

This is not only a document to assist customs, but also a document to assist you take advantage of Australia’s many free trade agreements. There are some goods that will be eligible for preferential treatment, such as tariff reductions or exemptions.

Any application declaration or permit

Some lighting goods may require further declaration or permits. It will depend on the exact kind of lighting you’re bringing into Australia.

For example, you may need to present a fumigation declaration such as a BMSB Treatment Certificate if your goods are arriving from a target risk country.

Be careful not to import prohibited goods

There are certain lighting goods that are prohibited from being imported into Australia.

On 7 December 2021, the Australian Government ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury. This convention places restrictions on the import of mercury, including a prohibition on importing High-Pressure Mercury Vapour (HPMV) lamps for general lighting purposes.

The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water has produced sector specific guidance material on mercury imports.

Customs and taxes for imported lighting goods

You will need to pay the appropriate level of duties and taxes for any lighting goods you bring into the country.

Duties

Customs duty on lighting will generally amount to 5% of the value of the lighting goods you are importing.

You should be aware of your duties before importing the goods. This is so that you face no surprises at the border and suddenly get hit with further costs.

There may be concessions that apply to your goods. If there is a duty on your goods, tax concessions orders (TCOs) may reduce them to zero. There may also be reduced customs duties and exemptions in a free trade agreement.

An experienced customs clearance professional can calculate the customs duties you’ll have to pay on any lighting equipment you import into Australia.

Taxes

Goods and Services Tax (GST) is payable on the lighting products you import. You’ll generally need to pay 10% GST on the value of your taxable importation.

Tax legislation 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 – unlikely in the case of lighting)

GST exemptions and GST deferrals can help you reduce the amount of tax you when importing lighting into Australia, if you are eligible for the scheme.

Need assistance importing lighting into Australia?

Australians love their lighting, so there is plenty of opportunity to grow a profitable business in this market. However, doing so will require strict compliance with local customs and biosecurity laws.

Here at International Cargo Express, our team of customs brokers and freight forwarders are prepared to guide you. Our team has combined experience of over three decades importing lighting into Australia and can help you streamline your supply chain so that you reduce costs and delays to the greatest extent possible.

It doesn’t matter where you’re importing your goods from. We have an international network of logistics partners and can seamlessly assist you in bringing your lighting products into the country.

If you need assistance importing lighting into Australia, please reach out to us at one of our offices or click the button below to get a quote for your next shipment.

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or call us on 1300 227 461

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