Situations where you are not entitled to GST credits
If you are a facilitator, such as a customs broker or freight forwarder, you will not be entitled to a GST credit. You are generally not the importer because you have not caused the goods to be brought to Australia for your own purposes. You are a facilitator because you are engaged to handle, store, transport, monitor the goods or process the import declaration on another entity's behalf.
Example: Facilitator named as owner on import declaration
An Australian retailer purchases equipment from a supplier in the United States of America (USA supplier).
The USA supplier engages an Australian logistics company to transport equipment and facilitate the clearance of the goods through Customs as a licensed customs broker.
The logistics company operates a worldwide logistics enterprise. The logistics company is named as 'owner' of the equipment on the import declaration and delivers the equipment to the Australian retailer. The logistics company was liable to pay the GST on the taxable importation.
The logistics company is not the importer because it did not cause the equipment to be brought to Australia for its own purposes. The logistics company merely facilitates the importation and delivery of the equipment to the Australian retailer for the USA supplier.
The logistics company is not entitled to a GST credit for the GST paid on importation.
Whilst both the Australian retailer and the USA supplier caused the goods to be brought to Australia, neither are importers because the logistics company was named as 'owner' on the import declaration.
In this circumstance no entity can claim a GST credit.
End of example
Similarly, a third party contracted to install or assemble the goods on arrival in Australia does not cause the goods to be brought to Australia for their own purposes.
Example: Installer named as owner on import declaration
An Australian manufacturer purchases equipment from a non-resident supplier. The non-resident supplier engages an Australian specialist installer to install the equipment in Australia.
The specialist installer is named as 'owner' on the import declaration and pays the GST on the taxable importation.
The specialist installer did not cause the equipment to be brought to Australia for application to its own purposes after importation: they did not sell, lease or hire the equipment, nor use it in a manner consistent with its design or nature. Therefore the installer is not the importer and is not entitled to a GST credit.
If, however, the specialist installer enters their name as 'owner' on the import declaration, as agent of the non-resident supplier, then the non-resident supplier will be the importer because the following two events have occurred:
- the non-resident supplier has caused the goods to be brought to Australia to sell to an Australian manufacturer
- their agent was named as the 'owner' of the goods on the import declaration.
The Australian resident agent of the non-resident supplier would be entitled to the GST credit on the taxable importation if the non-resident supplier is registered, or required to be registered for GST and imported the goods for a creditable purpose.
End of example
Where no agency arrangement exists
In circumstances where a third party is named as 'owner' on the import declaration but is not your agent, the third party will be liable to pay the GST on the taxable importation and will not be entitled to claim a GST credit because they are not the importer.
If you reimburse the GST for which a third party was liable to pay on the taxable importation, you will not be able to claim a GST credit because you are not named as 'owner' of the goods on the import declaration.
In these situations, no-one will be entitled to a GST credit.