Import approvals for Australia take many forms, and standards are among the most important. See below where we explain the difference between mandatory and voluntary standards when importing to Australia?


Import Approvals – Mandatory Standards in Australia?

Regulatory or Mandatory Standards may only be formed by a government agency and compliance to these standards is mandatory.

Mandatory Standards in Australia are developed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

It is therefore legal to supply products to Australia even if these products do not meet voluntary Australian Standards. Do this, however, without adhering to Mandatory Standards and you will face stiff penalties.


Some Products Don’t Need Import Approval but may have Voluntary Standards

Voluntary standards are developed by organisations to make sure that a product, method, or service is safe and performs as intended.  There are numerous industry bodies, groups and private organisations that develop voluntary standards in Australia. Compliance with voluntary standards is not mandatory.


What Standards Mean to the Import Approval Process

  • If you are the importer, ultimately it is your responsibility, not the overseas manufacturer to comply with Australian standards
  • Voluntary Standards represent the best and safe practices in the design, supply and use of different products. While not essential they are a great guide to best practice
  • Mandatory Standards set a minimum number of safety requirements that products must meet in order to be legally supplied in Australia. Any products sold in Australia subject to a mandatory standard must show that it can meet all the requirements under the standard, or face penalties.


Which Products Need Import Approval for Standards

  • Voluntary Standards cover a small number of consumer products
  • Products requiring mandatory standards are mostly for safety reasons. Compared to Voluntary Standards, Mandatory Standards in Australia cover an even smaller number of consumer products


Australian Standards as Basis for Mandatory Standards

  • Although Mandatory Standards may cite or even use Voluntary Standards as substitute for regulation, not all Voluntary Standards become mandatory
  • Although it holds true on some occasions, Mandatory Standards are not always based on Australian Standards


Import Approvals for Your Products – How to Find Out

First do your own assessment of the product:

  1. What is the risk of injury or death as a result of using your product
  2. Check product – to see which product types have safety guidelines and standards
  3. Check SAI Global – to buy the standard

Learn more about other approvals, regulations and restrictions on product imports for Australia in our Import to Australia checklist. Included with our import export learning program.


by Ben Crawford
Import Approval for Australia – How to Comply with Standards
My Import Label
Import Approval for Australia