Importing to Australia? Find out What is a Customs Broker and what they do


It is always a fun question at school reunions, family gatherings and when meeting new people:


So what do you do?


I am the Customs Manager at a Customs Brokerage.


Ahhh, Customs, like on that Border Security TV show, yeah I saw that, they were strip searching this guy suspected of smuggling live snakes hidden in his trousers…

No…more like a translator between the Private Sector and the correlating Government Departments.


Oh, I didn’t even know that was a thing…


It’s interesting isn’t it?


In the 2014-15 financial year Australia’s goods importations exceeded $250 billion, of which over A$191 billion were manufactured products , almost every single person I have ever met at some point or another(1) in their lives have come into contact with something that was manufactured overseas and was imported, probably by an Importer who utilised the services of a Customs Brokerage, but very few people have ever heard of the profession, in fact probably 90% of people I encounter (outside of the industry) have never heard of it. Ever.


The next line of the conversation is usually me providing a hypothetical scenario, the variations are endless, but for demonstration sake:

Let’s say you wanted to open a clothing boutique, you’ve got funding, you have rented a shop and you need to fill it with furnishings and merchandise. Things like racks, shelves and counters may all be cheaply sourced from a supplier in China, while items for sale could range from handmade silk scarves from India, to handbags, belts and shoes made in China, to dresses, skirts and blouses from the USA.


You order the goods from your Chinese, Indian and American suppliers and they are shipped to you. When the goods arrive in Australia they need to be “cleared” through Australian Customs(2) and Quarantine(3), the destination charges need to be paid and the cargo needs to be collected from the depot. Each shipment (there are four separate shipments in the above scenario), will cross over the desks of at least two Government Departments, a Forwarder and a Transport Provider. It can be a minefield to manage, there are so many regulations and legislative requirements in an industry that is constantly changing and where the penalties range from infringement notices to incarceration it exacerbates the already stressful situation of starting a new enterprise.


This is where your Customs Brokerage comes in. Our primary role is to engage our years of experience to minimise your financial liabilities while ensuring that you are in compliance with all Customs and Quarantine requirements. We utilise our industry connections to ensure that the shipments are handled with efficiency so that the goods can be delivered to you with minimal delay. We do all of the legwork, from port to door and in doing so minimise the stresses of managing multiple service providers. We aim to provide you with fantastic customer service to keep you up to date on the status of your shipments by sending you updates about key shipment dates.


We give you the opportunity to delegate the bureaucratic importation process so that you can focus on the more important things with peace of mind.


If you would like to find out how we can make importing easy for you, please contact us for a no obligation quote on (02) 9980 1364.

Written by Jamie Murray

About the Author:
Jamie Murray commenced her career at Bollinger Shipping Agency in December 2006 and has been Managing the Customs Department since January 2013. She has completed an Advanced Diploma in Business Management and the CBFCA National Customs Brokers Course. While already well versed in interpreting the requirements of the Department of Agriculture, she will be formalising her experience by completing Quarantine Accreditation in 2015. Jamie is dedicated to her work and, without exception, she demonstrates a meticulous, careful and accurate approach all tasks.

Barry Bollinger, Director, Bollinger Shipping Agency Pty Ltd, July 2015

(1) Data from DFAT Trade Summary –

(2) Now referred to as the Australian Border Force

(3) Now referred to as the Department of Agriculture