Commerce Marking on Imported Goods

Certain goods must be correctly labelled with a trade description before they can be imported into Australia. Not all imported goods require labelling, but those imported goods that do require labelling must meet the labelling requirements. If they do not meet the labelling requirements, the goods may be seized or held by Customs at a Customs depot to be labelled correctly on arrival.

The Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act 1905 (the Act) and the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Regulation 2016 (the Regulation) set out which goods or classes of goods require labelling, what label is required, and where the label must be applied.

Commerce Marking and Trade Description Requirements

A trade description means any description, statement, indication or suggestion, as to the how, where, or by whom the goods were made, produced, selected, packed or otherwise prepared. The trade description must:

  • be in the English language and in prominent and legible characters
  • include the name of the country where the goods were made or produced
  • where required, include a true description of the goods (‘true description’ is not defined in the legislation so is taken to be anything that is a correct and accurate explanation of the goods)
  • unless a prepacked article, be in the form of a principal label or brand (including a mark, device, name, word, letter, numeral or symbol and a combination of 2 or more of those things) attached in a prominent position, and as permanently as practicable, to the goods – if attachment to the goods is impracticable, to the principal coverings containing the goods for wholesale or retail.

Customs Penalties

From 29 June 2018, a penalty will be introduced by Customs for non-compliance with the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Regulation 2016 (the CTD Regulation). The penalty will be up to 50 penalty units ($10,500)

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