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  • GST on low value imported goods – information for operators of electronic distribution platforms (EDPs)

    How are platform operators affected?

    As of 1 July 2018, platform operators may be treated as the supplier for GST purposes for sales of low value goods that merchants make to consumers in Australia through their platform. In general, these rules are similar to those that apply GST to sales of imported digital services and digital products to Australian consumers made through platforms as of 1 July 2017.

    If you are responsible for GST on sales made through your platform, you will need to count these sales (plus any other sales you make that GST applies to) towards your GST turnover. If your GST turnover meets the A$75,000 threshold in a 12-month period, you will need to register and return GST on these sales.

    Broadly, your GST turnover is your gross consumer sales revenue from supplies made in the course of your business that are connected to Australia and to which GST applies.

    Once you register, you will need to work with your merchants to ensure that certain information is provided to customers and included on customs documents.

    What are low value goods?

    Low value goods are physical goods (excluding tobacco products or alcoholic beverages) valued at A$1,000 or less. This A$1,000 threshold is based on the customs value, which means transport and insurance costs are excluded from the valuation. Goods imported into Australia in a consignment valued at over A$1,000 (and all tobacco products or alcoholic beverages) will continue to have GST and customs duties applied at the border (as per existing rules).

    How much GST do you charge?

    The Australian GST rate is 10%. This means the GST is 1/11th of amount the consumer pays. GST is generally applied to all amounts paid by the consumer including transport and insurance.

    When do I pay GST on sales through my platform?

    As a platform operator, you may need to apply GST to sales if, broadly:

    • you are registered or required to be registered for GST
    • the goods are low value goods sold to consumers through your platform
    • you, or the merchant, assist in getting the goods to Australia.

    If a consumer is refunded on goods that are returned, you should refund any GST you collected on the goods. If you have done this and you have already paid the GST to the ATO, you can reduce the GST payable in your next GST return.

    Are there any exceptions?

    You won’t charge GST on low value imported goods under the new law if:

    • the customer is a business who provides you their Australian business number (ABN) and states that they are GST registered
    • you apply an exception because multiple goods with a combined customs value of more than A$1,000 will be shipped together in one consignment to Australia
    • GST does not apply to the goods (known as GST-free or input taxed supplies).

    Even if you don’t charge GST because of one of these exceptions, you are still required to include certain information on customs documents.

    When is the merchant responsible for GST on their sales through my platform?

    If GST applies to sales through your platform under existing rules because the goods are sourced from within Australia, the merchant will still be responsible for GST.

    If, broadly, you do not control any of the key elements of supplies made through your platform, and certain other requirements are met, then the merchant may be responsible for GST.

    How to register for GST

    You can choose to register using the simplified GST system designed for non-residents, if you are eligible, or the existing standard GST registration system.

    More information

    Further guidance on GST on low value imported goods and GST registration is available at ato.gov.au/AusGST, or you can email us at AustraliaGST@ato.gov.auThis link opens in a new window.

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      Last modified: 14 May 2018QC 55410