import-complianceCompliance is an important consideration when sourcing internationally and importing to Australia.

There are multiple aspects of compliance.  This article outlines major issues you need to consider.

Hornet Group have a decade of experience sourcing from China.  We’ve project managed everything from automotive to industrial to toys to packaging.  So we have a good idea what we’re talking about.

While import compliance issues are similar for all products, the details vary from category to category.  The information we’re giving here is general.  We can’t and don’t guarantee it’s complete or up-to-date.  Before starting on a sourcing and import project, we recommend you do your own research.  If you work with us, we’re happy to lend our expertise.  But regulatory compliance remains the responsibility of the importer.

Compliance with Import Regulations

Import of certain products into Australia is prohibited.

The list of prohibited imports is surprisingly small.  Suicide devices.  Dangerous breeds of dogs. Stem cells and other products from human embryo clones.  Anything at all from countries where Australia has imposed sanctions.  (Libya, North Korea and other such places.)

Many more products are restricted.

They’re restricted in different ways.  You may need a licence.  Your product may simply need to meet specific standards.  As we said, the devil is in the detail.

Some of these restricted products are exactly what you’d expect.

  • Weapons, explosives and firearms.
  • Chemical and biological agents which can be used as weapons.
  • Drugs and narcotics.
  • Therapeutic substances.

Others may catch you unawares.

  • Substances with human or animal origins.  Important if you’re sourcing leather goods like bags or shoes!
  • Goods bearing the word ANZAC – and advertising materials relating to them.
  • Cigarette lighters
  • Novelty erasers (if they look and smell like food)
  • Some laser pointers
  • Some incandescent lamps

A whole range of other products are fine to import as long as they do not contain excessive levels of heavy metals.  One way to handle these is to include the requirements in the product specification.  Of course you also need strong quality control.  This includes testing samples before committing to an order, and further testing at the pre-shipment inspection.

  • Toys
  • Cosmetics
  • Pencils and paintbrushes
  • Money boxes
  • Ceramics – if they are to be used for food storage, preparation or consumption, but not if they’re for purely decorative purposes.

By now it should be obvious why you need to research import compliance requirements for your specific product!  An excellent place to start is the Australian Customs information page on prohibited and restricted items.

Labelling and Trade Description Requirements

We have written previously about labelling requirements.  These apply to many categories of goods.  Additional requirements apply for some categories like food, medicines, textiles, clothing, shoes and agricultural chemicals.

Labels must include a trade description which is:

  • in English
  • in prominent and legible characters
  • on the main label or brand attached to the goods, in a prominent position and in a way that is as permanent as practicable

The trade description must include the name of the country of origin and a true description of the goods.

This Customs page has more information about labelling and contact details for further enquiries.

Compliance with Australian Standards

Import compliance also means your product must meet any and all applicable Australian Standards.  There are nearly 7,000 of them!  Many apply to processes rather than products, but you do need to sort through them.

For most products, it will be fairly easy to identify which standards apply.  But remember, your product may cut across several categories.

Hornet had an enquiry some time back about importing a ‘food van’.  Essentially a café on wheels.  Let’s take a look at the compliance requirements for that.

  • It’s a vehicle.  There are specific requirements and permits required to import any vehicle into Australia.  There are also Australian standards for road vehicles in general, commercial vehicles and special purpose vehicles.
  • It has inbuilt appliances for cooking, refrigeration and other food preparation.  There are also Australian standards governing electronic appliances.
  • It has water storages and pumping systems. These too are subject to Australian standards.

Of course this an extreme example, but you can see why investigating compliance early in your project is essential.

The best place to start is the Standards Australia website.

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We hope this gives you some insight into the kind of compliance issues you need to consider when sourcing from China or other overseas locations.  If you have further questions, we’re always happy to help, so just contact us.


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