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Review of all customs licensing arrangements


The Department is implementing the 15 recommendations from the Review of Customs Licensing Regimes (the Review). Implementation of the recommendations will include consultation with industry and other Government agencies and will be completed by December 2020.

The implementation work has been divided into three phases:

  • The refine and improve phase includes three recommendations (5, 11 and 14) to refine and improve components of the existing licensing arrangements by June 2018.
  • The accessible phase focusses on making the licensing system more accessible (recommendation 4) by December 2018.
  • The align phase includes six recommendations (2, 3, 6, 8, 9 and 12) aiming to align the Australian Government agencies' processes and systems relating to the licensing regimes by December 2020.

The remaining five recommendations (1, 7, 10, 13 and 15) relate to retaining, with some refinement, existing elements of the licensing regimes, so they are already in place.

Implementation of the Review's recommendations will result in changes and benefits including:

  • Key changes:
    • Updated legislation to strengthen the licensing regime.
    • New cross-government processes to drive efficiency.
    • Better documentation, guidance and procedures for applicants, licensees and officers.
    • Increased transparency and improved information sharing across agencies.
    • Improved integrity of the licensing regime and increased overall supply chain security.

  • Key benefits:
    • Increased efficiency and effectiveness through a streamlined licensing regime.
    • Reduced regulatory burden for industry.
    • Reduced duplication within the Department and across government agencies.
    • Innovation and insight through technological advancement.
    • Increased compliance and accuracy of data.

Implementation of the Review's recommendations will involve:

  • Continued consultation with government and industry stakeholders throughout policy development and process change.
  • Costing major changes, such as improved accessibility through the use of technology, and being clear about the benefits to be achieved.
  • Reporting on milestones and stage completion.

Recommendations: tasks and outcomes

Maintain the licensing regime

Timeframe: Ongoing

Maintain recommendations ​ ​
Recommendation Tasks Outcomes
1. Licensing - Retain a licensing regime for customs brokers, depots and warehouses.No changes required.
  • Confidence in the licensing regime
  • Effective and efficient communication with license holders
  • Updated and clearer guidance for applicants
  • Improved compliance
  • Strengthened integrity
7. Timeframes for decisions - Retain the existing timeframe of 60 days for decisions on customs broker, depot and warehouse licensing applications.No changes required.
10. Classes of licences for customs brokers - Continue with existing licence categories for customs brokers.No changes required.
13. Use of bonds, securities and indemnities - Retain the right to use bonds, securities and indemnities.Clarify and issue advice on the use of bonds, securities and indemnities.
15. Integrity of the licensing regimes - Continue to place the highest priority on maintaining the integrity of the customs licensing regime.Implement the review's recommendations.

Refine and improve

Timeframe: by June 2018

Refine and improve recommendations ​
Recommendation Tasks Outcomes
5. Application and documentation requirements - Review the application and documentation requirements for licensing customs brokers, depots and warehouses.Simplify and condense licence application and documentation requirements.Updated and clearer guidance for applicants and license holders

11. National Customs Brokers Licensing Advisory Committee (NCBLAC) - The Customs Act 1901 should be amended to:

  • allow disciplinary decisions to be made by the Comptroller-General without the necessity for reference to NCBLAC where a broker has been prosecuted and found by a court (whether after a trial or following a plea of guilty) to have committed an offence against the Customs laws, or other laws, in relation to an importation of goods and the elements of that offence require guilty intent
  • make clear that, in appointing industry members to NCBLAC, the Comptroller-General can seek nominations from multiple organisations that represent brokers.
Develop necessary legislative amendments and seek approval for their inclusion onto the legislative program.
  • Clarified disciplinary action (Customs Brokers)
  • Clarified industry representation to NCBLAC
14. Licence conditions - Re-examine the additional conditions on licences to ensure that they are sufficiently clear and provide guidance.Develop and provide guidance about additional conditions.Improved compliance, clearer administration

Enhance accessibility

Timeframe: by December 2018

Accessibility recommendation
Recommendation Tasks Outcomes
4. Electronic lodgement of information - Implement an electronic system for lodging information for licensing.
  • Develop options for electronic lodgement of application/renewals including accepting scanned documents and electronic signatures.
  • Find opportunities to enhance accessibility and functionality using Information and Communications Technology (ICT) capability.
  • Better accessibility and guidance
  • Increased accuracy and timeliness of data
  • More effective and efficient communication with licensees
  • Simplified processes
  • Lower costs for industry

Align licensing regimes across agencies

Timeframe: by December 2020

Align recommendations
Recommendation Tasks Outcomes
2. Alignment with other agencies - Work with other agencies to better align licensing processes.
  • Consult with government stakeholders and clarify mechanisms that can be used for licensing alignment, such as interagency forums.
  • Integrated and harmonised approach to licensing
  • Reduced regulatory burden as license holders could provide information once for use across agencies
  • Less processing and shorter timeframes
  • Reduced duplication
  • Strengthened system integrity and supply chain security
6. Licence renewal processes - Work with other agencies to align licence renewal processes.
  • Evaluate legislation and regulations to review commonalities and opportunities.
  • Align licence information and documentary requirements, where feasible.
  • Align licence duration and renewal processes for customs brokers and entities licensed by the Department, the Australian Taxation Office and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources where practical.
  • Evaluate opportunities for joined up accessibility and functionality using ICT capability.
3. Fit and proper checks - Align fit and proper checks with other agencies, with a view to increasing efficiencies and reducing duplication.
  • Identify which agencies undertake fit and proper checks, assess similarities and opportunities to share data and assessments.
8. Compliance (including audit) processes - Explore aligning compliance (including auditing) processes with other government agencies.
  • Identify and use inter-agency fora to de-conflict processes, and shared compliance activities where practical.
  • Find opportunities to share more compliance information.
9. Permissions for movement of goods - Explore with other agencies whether there are opportunities to align permissions for movement of goods.
  • Align and recognise permissions for movement of goods across agencies.
  • Simplification of administration
  • Increased information sharing between agencies
12. Licences covering multiple facilities - Develop and implement a more flexible licensing system that would allow a single licence to cover multiple facilities controlled by the same entity under the Customs Act 1901.Explore the implications of a single licence for multiple establishments including benefits, costs and implications for the affected parties.Streamlined departmental licensing regime for brokers, depots and warehouses.

For a brief overview of the recommendations and timeline see the Customs Licensing Review implementation timeline (113KB PDF).

Final Report – May 2017

The Review of Customs Licensing Regimes Final Report (574KB PDF) was formally submitted to Comptroller-General of Customs on the 31 March 2017.

We appreciate the contribution to the Review, particularly submissions, feedback on the Issues Paper, and attendance at the workshops.

The Final Report outlines the findings of the Review and sets out the 15 recommendations. The first recommendation is that the current licensing regime be retained for customs brokers, depots and warehouses, as no suggested model would be more efficient in meeting the objectives for border management than the existing one. The remaining 14 recommendations are intended to strengthen integrity and streamline processes underpinning the licensing regime for the Department, industry and other government agencies that also license customs brokers, depots and warehouses (for example, the Australian Taxation Office).

The Department will continue to work with stakeholders during the implementation of the recommendations.

Any queries regarding the Final Report should be directed to licensingreview@homeaffairs.gov.au.

Customs licensing review updates

January 2017

Consultation completed on review of all customs licensing arrangements.

We hosted a final review workshop on Friday 20 January 2017.

Industry representatives attended and gave valuable clarification of their submissions on the issues where submissions differed.

Three issues were discussed in depth, including:

  • the role of the National Customs Brokers Licensing Advisory Committee
  • whether one license should cover multiple establishments
  • whether to introduce a ‘provisional’ licence for Customs Brokers.

We now better understand the reasons for the submitted ideas on these issues and have a clearer way forward to develop recommendations for the Comptroller-General of Customs.

The final report and recommendations will be submitted to the Comptroller-General of Customs by 31 March 2017.

We acknowledge the contribution of industry representatives who contributed to the review, especially those who provided feedback on the Issues Paper and who came in person to the workshop on Friday 20 January 2017.

December 2016

The Review of Customs Licensing Regimes Issues Paper  (260KB PDF) summarises the key themes raised in the 37 submissions received as part of the Review into licensing regimes under the Customs Act 1901 (the Review). The Issues Paper also contains a summary of discussion points from a government-industry integrity workshop, held on 25 November 2016, on the integrity of the licensing regimes. Additionally, the paper captures any other feedback received from the workshop.

Any queries regarding the Review or comments on the Issues Paper should be directed to licensingreview@homeaffairs.gov.au.

Further consultation with industry is planned for mid-January 2017. The final report for the Review will be submitted to the Comptroller-General of Customs for consideration on 31 March 2017.

August 2016

The focus of the review into licensing regimes under the Customs Act 1901 (as announced in November 2015) was to work with industry and other government departments to identify opportunities to streamline, improve and deregulate the existing licensing regimes.

Given the recent allegations of corruption within licensed entities, we have decided to broaden the scope of the review to specifically focus on the integrity of the licensing regimes and to identify further measures to strengthen the licensing regimes against corruption. We recognise that to be successful, this needs to be done in collaboration with industry. We acknowledge that the allegations relate to a small minority of licensed entities; the vast majority of licensees perform their trusted role with integrity and professionalism.

We will continue the consultative nature of the review and seek input and advice from industry. We will engage with industry on options to strengthen the integrity of the licensing regimes and to ensure we have a holistic and integrated system. Details on how you can be involved and timeframes will be provided shortly.

We are committed to working with industry to ensure that the future licensing regimes have the right checks and balances in place. Additionally, we value industry’s contribution and assistance to the review.

Terms of reference

The review will be supported by the Australian Taxation Office, who administers the warehousing of excise equivalent goods under the Customs Act 1901

Excise equivalent goods are imported alcohol (other than wine), tobacco and fuel that, if produced or manufactured in Australia, would be subject to excise. With the exception of providores, catering bonds and duty free stores, responsibility for the licensing and administration of warehouses that store excise equivalent goods moved to the Australian Taxation Office on 1 July 2010. 


The objectives of the review are to:

  • review the role played by licensing in today's border management environment, and consider whether there are other, more efficient, ways to achieve the same objectives for border management
  • assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the current licensing regimes
  • assess the regulatory burden of the current licensing regimes and identify opportunities to reduce this burden and align application processes between administrations
  • recommend whether the current licensing regimes should be retained with improvements/enhancements or replaced.


The review will assess all licensing regimes under the Customs Act, including the licensing of customs brokers, depots and warehouses (including providores, catering bonds and duty free stores and excise equivalent goods). 

The review will examine the legislation and administrative processes for the licensing regimes. This will necessitate an assessment of the:

  • relevant provisions of the Customs Act and the Customs Regulation 2015 to confirm that they remain necessary and appropriate, and to identify any opportunities to streamline or simplify these arrangements
  • current application process for a licence from the perspective of an applicant in preparing the application
  • current application process for a licence from our perspective and the Australian Taxation Office in processing the application
  • current administration by us and the Australian Taxation Office of the licensing regimes, including available resources and the segregation of functions (policy and operations), and opportunities to increase consistency across the regimes
  • functions, composition and processes of the National Customs Brokers Licensing Advisory Committee to identify possible improvements/enhancements or alternative models.

As part of the review, we will consider if:

  • information required to be submitted with an application remains appropriate
  • conditions to which a licence is subject and the consequences for any breaches remain appropriate
  • securities should be taken from depot and warehouse licence holders to ensure compliance with the Customs Act and to protect the revenue, and if so, the factors that should be taken into account in determining the amount of security
  •  there are consistent processes between administrations and licence types.

The review will not review the:

  • Fees and charges applicable to customs brokers, depots or warehouses as those were the subject of a separate review, the Joint Review of Border Fees, Charges and Taxes, which was announced in September 2014 by the then Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Hon. Scott Morrison MP. It is recognised however that changes to the licensing regimes might result in changes to the cost base.
  • Continuing Professional Development Scheme for customs brokers as the Continuing Professional Development Scheme was reviewed by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service in 2014.
  • Cargo reporting requirements.

In formulating recommendations, the current cost of licensing customs brokers, depots and Department-administered warehouses will be considered. Any recommendations to improve the efficiency of the current licensing process must be fully costed.

Consultation process

During the review, we will consult with stakeholders, including industry, importers and exporters, non-government stakeholders, and relevant Government agencies.

Where appropriate, we and Australian Taxation Office will engage in consultative discussions with stakeholders and seek their comments and feedback through submissions. Based on these submissions, we will develop draft recommendations which will be circulated to stakeholders for further comments.


Timeframes for review
2 November 2015Terms of reference and discussion paper released
31 December 2015Closing date for stakeholders to lodge submissions
16 December 2016Issues Paper publically released for comment
11 January 2017Closing date for stakeholders to lodge comments on Issues Paper
31 March 2017Final report submitted to the Comptroller - General of Customs for consideration

Discussion paper

The Review of customs licensing regimes discussion paper (479KB PDF) provides further details on how to provide a submission, and covers a range of issues on which we seek information and feedback.


We received 37 submissions for the review into licensing regimes under the Customs Act 1901.

Submissions have been published below unless authors have not authorised publication of their submission on  this webpage.

Disclaimer: Views or opinions expressed in submissions reflect those of the organisation or individual making the submission and are not those of the Department.

Names and personal information have been redacted from submissions. This is to protect the privacy of the author, the privacy of other individuals, or because the review team considered that the identity of individuals was not relevant to its terms of reference.

The published submissions do not meet Australian Government accessibility requirements as they have been provided by third parties.

02 Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) Pty Ltd. (143KB PDF)Depots
04 Lion Pty Ltd. (631KB PDF) Warehouses
07 Philip Morris Limited (165KB PDF)Customs Brokers
08Confidential Warehouses
09Confidential Warehouses
10Confidential Warehouses
11 Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia Inc. (176KB PDF)Depots
12 Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia Inc (284KB PDF) Customs Brokers
13 Australian Federation of International Forwarders (144KB PDF)Customs Brokers
14 National Customs Broker Licensing Advisory Committee (301KB PDF)Customs Brokers
15 International Trade Compliance Pty Ltd. (95KB PDF) Customs Brokers
16 Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) Pty Ltd (140KB PDF)Customs Brokers
17Confidential Customs Brokers
18 Myfreightcareer Pty limited (134KB PDF) Customs Brokers
19 Private Individual (43KB PDF) Customs Brokers
20 Melbret Customs Agency Pty Ltd (240KB PDF)Customs Brokers
21Private Individual
- Original Submission (168KB PDF)
- Further submission (75KB PDF)
Customs Brokers
22Confidential Customs Brokers
23Confidential Customs Brokers
24 3D Logistics Pty Ltd (114KB PDF)Customs Brokers
25 Private Individual (474KB PDF) Customs Brokers
26 Hodder Logistics International (481KB PDF)Customs Brokers
27 Consolidated Cargo & Customs Pty Ltd (159KB PDF)Customs Brokers
28Confidential Customs Brokers
29 Luk & Associates Solicitors (19KB PDF)Customs Brokers
30 Powerhouse Logistics Pty Ltd. (1MB PDF)Customs Brokers
31 Southern Cross Cargo (54KB PDF)Customs Brokers
32Confidential Customs Brokers
34ConfidentialCustoms Brokers
35 Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (322KB PDF)
Customs Brokers
36 Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (654KB PDF) Depots
37 Australian Institute of Petroleum Ltd. (482KB PDF)Warehouses


Any enquires  about the review should be directed by email to licensingreview@homeaffairs.gov.au.