Importers Try to Defy Tobacco Ban

On 01 July 2019, it became illegal for anyone to import tobacco without a permit, but that hasn’t stopped imports cleverly packaged, concealed in wooden doors or disguised as tea.


Back in June we posted news of the Import Prohibition on Tobacco imposed on 1st July this year. In the first two months after those regulations came into effect, Australian Border Force (ABF) officers seized more than 123 tonnes of illicit tobacco at the border. That consisted of more than 87 tonnes of illicit loose leaf/molasses tobacco and 47.9 million cigarettes, which were all seized between 01 July 2019 and 31 August 2019.

Then, between 21-25 September 2019, three separate detections were made in air cargo consignments from South Korea, totalling over 600,000 cigarettes with an estimated evaded duty of more than half a million dollars. X-ray examinations revealed the cigarettes, which were all addressed to fake business names.

Large detections include a seizure of more than five tonnes of loose-leaf tobacco at the Container Examination Facility in Victoria. This consignment, from Indonesia, was concealed inside sachets declared as tea. It represents more than $5.7 million in evaded duty.

Officers at the Sydney Container Examination Facility also identified a consignment of more than two million cigarettes from Vietnam, which was concealed within wooden doors. This detection represents more than $1.8 million in evaded duty.

An ABF spokesperson said that on top of the larger detections, officers around the country are still seizing hundreds of smaller packages of tobacco every day.

On 01 July 2019, it became illegal for anyone to import tobacco without a permit, or in contravention of permit conditions. Tobacco can no longer be imported through the mail stream.

You must have a permit prior to importing tobacco products. Contact your customs broker before contemplating placing overseas orders. The staff at Colless Young will be happy to provide information if you wish to enquire about the procedure for obtaining import permits. As your licensed Customs Brokers and International freight forwarders, we can give you professional guidance on all your import requirements.