Importing from Australia to the UK: A Guide for Businesses

Australia has one of the largest mixed market economies in the world. It is a very wealthy country with a very similar demographic to the UK, making it an ideal place to import from – if it does well in Australia, it’s bound to do well here too. In 2012, the EU was Australia’s second largest trading partner in goods and services after China.

Australia generates its income from various sources such as mining, telecommunications, banking and manufacturing.


Here we take you through the steps to importing from Australia to the UK for your business.


Australia Fact File

  • Official Language: English
  • Currency: Australian Dollar (AUD)
  • Central Bank: Reserve Bank of Australia
  • Calling Code: +61
  • Capital City: Canberra
  • Largest City: Sydney
  • Population: 23.9 million


Shipping from Australia

The way that you ship your items from Australia will be determined largely by budget and time constraints. The quickest methods are often the most expensive, and the slowest the cheapest. As Australia is the other side of the world, it is not cheap to ship goods over from there either way.


However, TNT will always find the most efficient way of transporting goods from anywhere, making the most of our rail, road, sea and air networks.


Air or sea freight is obviously necessary to transport anything from Australia, being an island. Air is the more expensive of the two, but it will be quicker. If budget is more of a constraint than time, then opt for sea freight for your goods.

Tax and Duty

You may have to pay VAT, Customs Duty or Excise Duty on goods sent from outside the EU. Your goods may be seized, or you may be fined or prosecuted if you don’t follow the regulations.


Find the right commodity code on the online Trade Tariff for your goods to ensure that you’re paying the right amount of tax and duty. This will flag up any restrictions, regulations, tax and duty that you need to pay on your Australian imports, and whether you need an Import Licence.



You have to pay VAT directly to HMRC at UK rates on goods when they’re first brought into the EU. Your business needs to be VAT registered.


The VAT is calculated on the total cost of the goods, including any packing, transport and insurance costs, as well as any duties or levies that are payable on importation.

If the goods are for use in your business, then you can reclaim the VAT on your VAT return.


Items such as art work, antiques and collectors’ items are charged at a reduced rate of VAT.


The amount of duty you pay on goods will depend on how they are classified under the Trade Tariff and how they will be used.



You must declare all imports from outside the EU to HMRC using a document called SAD through a system called CHIEF, or Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight. Your document declares your imports, flags up any inaccuracies and then tracks the goods through ports and airports. The system also conducts a risk assessment and decides whether the goods are checked or not.
You will need an EORI number, or Economic Operator Registration and Identification number, to complete an Entry Summary Declaration or an Exit Summary Declaration.


The company that delivers your goods will hold on to your goods until all the tax and duties are paid.



If, like many, you find that it might be more efficient to outsource the majority of this process, get in contact with TNT. We can help manage your imports from Australia. We take a tailored approach to your imports, so they arrive on time and in budget.