The Responsibilities of Shippers & Consignees

The Australian Border Force has this week issued a notice reminding importers of the department’s definitions of a consignment and the legal responsibilities of shippers and consignees.


The Australian Border Force (ABF) has issued its first Australian Customs Notice (ACN) for 2021. It is numbered 2021/01 with the title: Definition of ‘consignment’ for the purposes of section 68 of the Customs Act 1901. (It is to be noted that this advice supersedes ACN 2006/59).

Importers are advised that they should take steps to understand their obligations. Providing false or misleading information to the ABF is a strict liability offence under sections 243T and 243U of the Customs Act 1901.

Meaning of Consignment
The fundamental factor when determining whether goods form a consignment is whether the goods are a single arranged shipment from a consignor to a consignee. Most commercial consignments will be made by the shipper upon receipt of an order from the importer. At its simplest, a consignment will consist of a single order and will generally (but not always) be transported to Australia in the same ship or aircraft. Multiple packages will also form a single consignment where those packages are ‘known to be part of the same order’. Therefore, where the total value of all the packages forming an order from a consignor to a consignee exceeds AUD1000, the goods must be formally entered in accordance with the provisions of section 68.

Where the ABF questions the legitimacy of the consignment, ABF officers can seek further information or supporting shipping documentation (for example order records, invoices, packing lists), to assist in verifying whether or not goods constitute one consignment.

Definition of ‘consignor’ and ‘consignee’
The Customs Act defines a ‘consignor’ for the purposes of cargo reports as a supplier of goods who is located outside of Australia and who either initiates the sending of goods to a person in Australia, or complies with a request from a person in Australia to send goods to the person.

The consignor is not a person or entity that:
· consolidates goods for export to Australia; or
· is a freight forwarder or other logistical services provider; or
· is a buying agent.

The Customs Act defines a ‘consignee’ for the purposes of cargo reports as the ultimate recipient of the goods that have been sent from outside Australia whether or not the person ordered or paid for the goods.

Please talk to us here at Colless Young to gather all the information you need before you place your overseas orders. We are Licensed Customs Brokers and International Freight Forwarders. Colless Young offers professional advice on all aspects of import procedures, including clearance through Customs and Quarantine, at all Australian ports and airports. Our logistics services cover air and sea freight, including exports, warehousing and trucking.