Commonwealth Numbered Regulations - Explanatory Statements

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Section 270 of the Customs Act 1901 ("the Act") provides in part that "the Governor-General may make regulations not inconsistent with this Act prescribing all matters which by this Act are required or permitted to be prescribed for giving effect to this Act or for the conduct of any business relating to the Customs ..."


The proposed Statutory Rules will amend the Customs Regulations (the Regulations)to provide for the electronic transmission to the Australian Customs Service of information concerning imported goods, and the electronic lodgement of import entries in respect of such goods. At present entries can be created electronically by importers who have access to the Customs Computer system, however the importer must produce to Customs the signed 'hard copy' of the entry to comply with the legislative requirements for entries. The proposed electronic entry system will provide an alternative to the documentary system by enabling importers to give entries electronically without the need for paper entries, and will enable Customs to electronically give authority under the Act to deal with imported goods. The removal of the need for paper entries and authorities will significantly enhance the efficiency of and control over the increasing volume of Australia's international trade, and improve the monitoring of that trade by providing more accurate and timely statistics of imports.

An electronic entry regime for exports known as EXIT was introduced earlier this year by the Customs and Excise Legislation Amendment Act 1990 (Act No. 111 of 1990). A pilot scheme of electronic lodgement for imports has operated since July 1990 under the Motor Vehicles Plan, and has proved extremely successful. Since that pilot scheme, and the success of the EXIT exports regime, there has been a public expectation and strong pressure from all interested parties, including the Government, to continue to expand electronic facilities so that the benefits of the paperless trading system can be made available to the entire trading community.

In particular the proposed Statutory Rules, amend the Regulations to provide that entries may be given to Customs electronically from 29 July 1991 via a prescribed computer system operated by the Customs Service. The proposed amendments also prescribe the information required to be given with an electronic entry and provide that authority to deal with goods may also be given electronically. All of the amendments are explained in greater detail below:

Amendments to the Customs Regulations

1)       Commencement

Regulation 1.1       provides that these Regulations commence on 29 July 1991.

2)       Amendment

Regulation 2.1       is a formal machinery provision which provides that the Customs Regulations are amended as set out in these Regulations.

3)       Regulation 23AA (Authority to deal with goods)

Regulation 3.1       is a technical provision which amends subregulation 23AA(1) consequential upon new subregulation 23AA(1A). The effect of the amendment is to restrict this subregulation to those entries which are not given electronically by means of the new Compile 3 computer system; eg. manual or documentary entries in particular.

Regulation 3.2       inserts new subregulation 23AA(1A) which provides that where an entry is given electronically by means of the Compile 3 system, an authority to deal with those goods under section 39 of the Customs Act 1901 must also be given by that electronic facility.

The new subregulation also prescribes that such an authority must set out:

-       the name of the owner of the goods;

-       the name of the agent of the owner, if any;

-       the entry to which the authority relates, which is evidenced by the entry number;

-       any conditions under subsection 39(2) of the Customs Act 1901 to which the authority is subject; and

-       the date on which the authority is given.

4)       Regulation 36 (Entry - manner in which made)

Regulation 4.1       is a technical provision which amends subregulation 36(1) consequential upon new regulation 36A. The effect of the amendment is similar to Regulation 3.1 above; it effectively restricts this subregulation to those entries which are not given electronically by means of the new Compile 3 computer system.

Regulation 4.2       is a technical provision which amends subregulation 36(2) consequential upon new regulation 36A, for similar reasons to those outlined above.

5)       New Regulation 36A

Regulation 5.1 inserts new regulation 36A which provides that for the purposes of Sections 36 and 37 of the Customs Act 1901 an entry may be given electronically by means of the "Compile 3" computer system used by Customs on 29 July 1991 for the purpose of handling such entries.

The "Compile 3" computer system is the vehicle by which the facility of electronic lodgement and clearance of entries will be made available to the importing community, as an alternative to the manual, documentary means of entering goods. It contains, as part of the system, sophisticated risk management profiles which will maintain the necessary levels of intervention where community protection issues are involved, while not prejudicing the overall advantages of a paperless trading system.

6)       Regulation 7 (Entries for home consumption or warehousing: required particulars)

Regulations 6.1, 6.2 and 6.3 are technical provisions which amend subregulations 37(1), 37(2) and 37(3) respectively, consequential upon new regulation 36A. The amendments have the same effect and are for the same reason as outlined in proposed Regulation 4.

Regulation 6.4       omits subregulation 37(4) from the Regulations. This subregulation prescribed the required particulars for entries of good owned by the Commonwealth which at the time they are entered for home consumption or warehousing are not intended to be used for the purposes of trade. Since the repeal of Item 1 of Part I of Schedule 4 to the Customs Tariff Act 1987 by Act No. 127 of 1990 (which provided for the concessional entry of such goods) subregulation 37(4) has become unnecessary.

7)       New Regulation 38

Regulation 7.1       inserts new regulation 38 which prescribes the particulars required in an entry given electronically by means of the "Compile 3". The necessary particulars are substantially similar to those particulars already required for manual entries, with the addition of the owner's and agent's in-house reference numbers for documents relating to the specific transaction the subject of the entry (new paragraphs 38(1)(d) and (e)).

These particulars are required to enhance the auditing powers of the ACS in respect of electronically entered goods by requiring a means of identifying documents which, at the time of entry, were those relating to the importation. Therefore the owner's or agent's reference number for such entries will perform the identification function in the same manner as documents which are physically presented and inspected when goods are manually entered are perforated.

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