Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) administers the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (ANZFSC), which provides the labeling requirements for foods and beverages. Standard 2.7.1 of the Standards Code provides labeling requirements specifically in regards to alcoholic beverages and food containing alcohol. Standards 2.7.2, 2.7.3, 2.7.4, and 2.7.5 provide specific compositional requirements and related information for beer, fruit wine and vegetable wine, wine and wine product, and spirits; respectively. You may access these and the complete Food Standards Code at:http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/Pages/default.aspx.
According to the Food Standards Code, information contained on a label must be written or set out legibly and prominently (i.e. in contrast to the background), and in the English language. If a language other than English is used in addition to the English language on a label, the information in that language must not "negate or contradict the information on the label in the English language" (see Standard 1.2.9 for Legibility Requirements).
Below are general requirements for alcoholic beverage labels:
Australian food law does not permit the use of health or therapeutic claims on food/beverage labels.
Please note that an alcoholic beverage which contains more than 1.15 % alcohol by volume must not be represented as a ‘low alcohol’ beverage. Also, the label on a package of a beverage containing more than 0.5 % alcohol by volume must not include the words ‘non-intoxicating’ or similar terms.
Food containing alcohol must not be "represented in a form which expressly or by implication suggests that the product is a non-alcoholic confection or non-alcoholic beverage."
Allergen Labeling for Wine:
Where there are added sulfites in concentrations of 10mg/kg or more, allergens labeling requirements are met by claiming ‘contains sulphites’ [please note the Australian-English spelling], without necessarily having to name the actual sulfites used.
Also included should be any other prescribed allergenic substances contained in the product (i.e. egg, milk, fish, nuts, etc.)
GM (Genetically Modified) Food Labeling:
According to Standard 1.5.2 of the Food Standards Code, ‘genetically modified food’ is defined as food that "is, or contains as an ingredient, including a processing aid, a food produced using gene technology which –
(a) contains novel DNA and/or novel protein; or
(b) has altered characteristics;
but does not include –
(c) highly refined food, other than that with altered characteristics, where the effect of the refining process is to remove novel DNA and/or novel protein;
(d) a processing aid or food additive, except where novel DNA and/or novel protein from the processing aid or food additive remains present in the food to which it has been added;
(e) flavours present in the food in a concentration no more than 1g/kg; or
(f) a food, ingredient, or processing aid in which genetically modified food is unintentionally present in a quantity of no more than 10g/kg per ingredient."
The label on a package of genetically modified food must include the statement ‘genetically modified’ in conjunction with the name of that food or ingredient or processing aid.
Please refer to Standard 1.5.2 of the Code for more information on labeling requirements for food produced using gene technology.
Generally, imported wine only has to meet manufacturing standards under Standard 2.7.4 of the Food Standards Code, but not 4.5.1 (which specifies wine production standards for Australian producers). Standard 2.7.4 sets general definitions for wine and wine product and provides permissions for the addition of certain foods during the production of wine.
The U.S. and Australia are signatories to the Mutual Acceptance Agreement on Oenological Practices, which recognizes differences in countries’ winemaking practices. Through this Agreement, signatory countries (U.S., Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, and New Zealand) accept that wine made in another signatory country should be allowed to be sold in its market, despite the differences in oenological practices. The Agreement, however, does not apply to variances in labeling regulations; therefore, U.S. exporters are still required to verify their labels are in accordance with the Australian Food Standards Code and other regulations (refer to the Labeling Requirements section for more information).
The following is a list of the documents that may requested by Customs in order for the imported product to be released. Please contact a Customs broker or the Australian Customs Service (refer to the Contacts section for specific contact information) for further details on these and other documents that may be required upon importation into Australia.
The Australian Customs Service does not require importers to hold any import licenses. However, licenses are required for those planning to retail or wholesale wine. Contact the Liquor Licensing Department in the Australian state/territory in which you plan to conduct business in for more information. Also, visit the Australian "Business Licence Information" website at https://ablis.business.gov.au/pages/home.aspx.
Imported food must comply with all aspects of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (ANZFSC) at the point of entry into Australia. The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service performs random inspections on imported foods. All goods imported into Australia must be cleared by Customs and importers are responsible for obtaining a formal Customs clearance for consignments of goods.
All consignments that are over $1,000 in value must be entered via an "Import Declaration", which can be transmitted to Customs electronically, through the Intergrated Cargo System (ICS), or by a physical document – Customs form B650 - Import Declaration (N10). Import declarations are subject to entry processing fees; the cost will depend on whether the declaration is electronic or through the physical document.
It is suggested that first time or infrequent importers obtain the services of a customs broker who, in addition to completing the Import Declaration, can undertake a number of tasks associated with the import process on the importer's behalf. As a result of their online connection to Customs computer systems, brokers have access to lower processing fees, although they will charge for the services that they provide.
If you wish to clear the goods yourself, Customs will provide assistance to first time importers in the clearance of their goods. The minimum documentation required is an invoice, bill of lading/airway bill and any other papers such as packing list, insurance documents, etc. relating to the shipment. The Documentary Import Declaration Comprehensive Guide provides detailed information, advice and examples on how to complete an "Import Declaration" (Customs Form B650).
Where goods are being imported by air or sea and the total value of the consignment is $1,000 or less the goods must be cleared via a Self Assessed Clearance (SAC) declaration. A SAC declaration is not required for goods imported by mail/postal service.
Duties and GST are also applicable to SAC declarations, which must be reported electronically. A guide to SAC declarations may be found here: http://www.border.gov.au/Factsheets/Documents/self-assessedClearanceSACDeclarations.pdf.
Imported Food Inspection Scheme:
Import clearance of foods is the responsibility of Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) and is coordinated under the Imported Food Inspection Scheme (IFIS).
A basic description of the steps required for clearance through the Imported Food Inspection Scheme is below.
Customs duty rates vary depending on various factors. For specific information, please contact the Australian Customs Service.
Other than direct taxes, imported goods might be subject to indirect taxes. These taxes include the Goods and Service Tax (GST) and the Wine Equalization Tax (WET). The GST applies to most goods. However, importers who are registered for GST might be able to defer the payment on imported goods by participating in the Deferred GST Scheme. Importers can apply to defer GST through the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) at 1-300-130-915 or by emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The WET applies to grape wine which includes sparkling and fortified wines, grape wine products (including marsala, vermouth, wine cocktails and creams), and other fruit and vegetable wines.
For the most current tariffs and taxes applied to imported products for this country, please visit the Online Tariff Database provided by Tariffic. Please ensure you have a 10-digit HS classification code in order to obtain tariff information. Also see the Census Bureau’s Schedule B search function (http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/schedules/b/index.html), which allows you to classify your product according to United States export codes. Simply click "Search" and enter the keyword (i.e. beer) that best describes your product.
The amount of food that may be imported as trade samples (i.e. scientific or commercial evaluation) varies depending on the form of the food. Foods in liquid form (i.e. beverages) have a limit of up to 20 liters.
The advertising of a product must align with labeling standards. Anything required on a label must also appear on the advertisement; anything prohibited on a label is also prohibited in an advertisement.
Words such as polyunsaturated, ‘pure’, ‘natural’, ‘organic’, ‘low alcohol’, ‘non alcoholic’, ‘health’ and ‘vitamin enriched,’ etc are restricted and any picture of the product should not provide a misleading impression of the product.
For further information, visit the FSANZ website at:
Imported Food Inspection Scheme
Australian Taxation Office
Office of Agricultural Affairs, U.S. Embassy, Canberra
Food Standards Australia New Zealand
Australian Customs Service
Australian Embassy, Washington, D.C.
The information in this guide was obtained from external sources, including the websites of various governmental agencies and organizations, direct contact with those agencies and organizations, and from Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Attaché reports. Consequently, the accuracy of this information depends upon the accuracy of the sources.
TTB is not responsible for the content of external websites.
This page was last reviewed on August 17, 2010.