Contrary to popular belief, books are not dead yet. Although e-books have been a fierce competitor, statistics show that the average import of books amounts over US$ 205 million annually.
Whether you are considering to import the latest novels, the classics, foreign books or textbooks, you’ve come to the right place.
This guide will run through all you need to know on how to import books into Australia to help you prepare your business.
Understand the rules on importing
The good news is that there are few regulations that restrict the import of books into Australia. Perhaps the most important regulation to note is that copyright material are prohibited. You can also find another helpful guide from the Department of Agriculture on areas you’ll need to consider when you’re importing. You will need to understand these rules and make sure you follow them.
Learn about any restrictions on the types of products you can import
Because books mainly consists of paper and ink, you’re unlikely to fall afoul of Australia’s import restrictions. However, it’s important to check the list as there are some areas where there may be restrictions for the products you’re interested in, and if you’re not sure, contact the Australian Border Force.
Source books you’d like to import
Sourcing for goods is a major step to importing. Remember to carry out some market research and get an idea of the goods, price range, brand, quality, and other factors your potential customers may want. Use this insight to help you source for items.
There are various places you can find items to sell, these include:
● Alibaba — A huge online marketplace that provides millions of different types of items, mainly available from China.
● Amazon — Look through the various marketplaces to find suppliers of books and approach them directly.
● Ebay — Distributors will list items on the popular auction website.
Hints and tips on choosing the right books
● Always source items based on what you know about your prospective customers. Base your decisions on your data and research.
● Read reviews on the quality and customer service others have received from your prospective suppliers. Research them as much as you can before placing an order.
● Always request a sample of any items you’re interested in. When you receive it, check the quality and safety standards. You might want to look into the authenticity and quality of the products.
● Ask the supplier about their terms for payment, how long it will take them to send the product to you, what protections and guarantees you have, and what their policies are on returns. If you are satisfied and you’ve finished your due diligence, sign a contract with them.
Make sure your products are labelled accurately
Imported goods must be properly labelled. This includes the country of manufacture and origin, a true description of the goods, a sender’s address, and a recipient’s address. The labels should be in English, attached to the goods in a prominent position and be clear and easy to read. You can find full details of labelling requirements here.
Understand costs to import books
Now you know the products you want to buy, you’ll need to understand the total cost to your business. This includes the following:
● The cost of buying the books in the first place (the wholesale costs).
● The costs of shipping the books from its place of manufacture to Australia (logistics and distribution costs).
● The tariffs and duties you’ll need to pay when importing into Australia.
● You will almost certainly have to pay some taxes and tariffs on your imported goods. Spend some time learning about:
● Import entry costs and processing charges which you can find here.
● Understanding how to value goods for customs duty taxes.
● Find out if you have to pay goods and services tax.
● Getting the right tariff classification for your goods.
● You’ll also need an Australian Business Number to claim tax credits and defer tax payments. You should contact your taxation office for more information.
If your goods are valued at over $1,000 AUD, you will almost certainly have to pay import duty and GST on them.
● Import entry costs and processing charges – Customs will charge you a fee (typically under $200 AUD) for processing your goods.
● Customs import duty is calculated as a percentage of the price you paid for the goods. The duty rate can range from 0% to 10%, but the rate for most goods is 5%.
● Goods and services sales tax (GST) will also be charged based on the following:
● The valuation of the goods plus;
● The customs import duty amount plus;
● The cost of insuring the goods and transporting them to Australia.
● GST is charged at 10% of the final amount.
This is just intended as a general guide – These charges can be influenced by what you’re bringing in, excise taxes, free trade agreements, and many other factors. Please do check with customs for your individual circumstances.
Some types of goods are eligible for concessions (reducing the amount of duty you need to pay). You can find a full list and requirements through this page, just look for “List of current tariff concession orders.” You’ll also find additional details on concession schemes here.
Figuring out your costs
Before you start importing, make sure you calculate your costs. Figure out the cost price of each book you’re purchasing. Next, include your price per item (buying or manufacturing), transport and logistics, exchange rates, operational costs, insurance, salaries of people you need to pay, duties, tariffs, tax, and everything else that goes into running a business. Use all of these costs to help you set your selling price.
Paying for your goods in foreign currency
Importing is usually done in US dollars or Chinese Yuan.
Consider using OFX.
They specialise in international payments and receipts for Australian businesses.
Each client has a personal manager and access to a range of useful products like Forward Exchange Contracts, Options, Limit Orders and Currency Options.
OFX is a trusted partner of The Currency Shop.
Click on this link , sign up and never pay a transfer fee for your international money transfers. Ever.
OFX charges no transaction fees. Minimum transfer A$250. Third party intermediary fees may still apply.
What about receiving money in foreign currency?
Until recently, Australian businesses had 3 options to receive money from overseas customers:
- Get paid into a local Australian based, Australian dollar account.
- Open a Foreign Currency Account, usually with a bank
- Use a payment gateway like PayPal, Braintree or Stripe
Unfortunately, these options are usually filled with fees, balance requirements or massive exchange rate mark-ups.
In October 2017, TransferWise released the Borderless account in Australia and it’s really impressive. It allows you to receive, hold and transfer 27 different currencies.
The unique feature though, which is particuarly useful for businesses, is the ability to have local bank account details in USD, EUR, GBP or AUD. This makes receiving money from customer abroad, exceptionally ease.
Sell your books and reap the profits
As soon as your shipment arrives, it’s finally time to put up your books for sale in your ecommerce store, brick and mortar shop, or through an online marketplace. Good luck!
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