On 7 October 2015 the Australia Border Force (previously Australian Customs) released an exposure draft on the Interpretation of Tariff Concession Orders (TCOs).

It is the confirmed opinion of at least one recognised Australian barrier compliance lawyer that the draft is a significant departure from the methodology used to interpret TCOs for the past 40 years or more.

Essentially, an importer who takes advantage of any TCOs without having a Tariff Advice in place (which confirms whether the ABF agrees that a particular TCO refers to particular imported goods), runs the risk of incurring demands for the duty which would have been payable if a TCO had not been quoted on import declarations. The ABF can review for the past 4 years.

This period may be extended beyond 4 years if the TCO had been quoted to intentionally avoid the payment of duty and additional GST.

As a Freight Forwarder and Customs Brokerage, we are not in a position to predict the decision making processes of the Australia Border Force or consequences of their decisions. Therefore the onus for compliance on Declarations falls to the importer under the self-assessment regime which is currently in place.

We recommend that you review any Tariff Concessions that you currently use for your cargo.   Please do not hesitate to contact me via email or 1300 652 818 if you would like to discuss your options as you consider whether or not instruct Magellan to apply for Tariff Advices for goods you import using TCOs.

It is also important to note that while applications for Tariff Advices are not particularly time consuming, delays of up to 6 weeks can be experienced due to the ABF approval process.   This may delay the Customs Clearance process in turn.