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Shipping nutritional supplements to Australia

TL;DR
 

  • The Australian supplements market is a $4.3B opportunity

  • Nutritional supplements are classified as "complementary medicines" and regulated the same as non-prescription medicines

  • While most ingredients commonly found in US supplements are ok, Australia prohibits the use of Hoodia, Yohimbe, and DHEA

  • No import license is required if your product is for personal use (not for resale), less than a three-month supply, and commercially prepared & packaged

  • Passport can help you break into the Australian market with affordable, compliant direct-to-consumer shipping options

Australian demand for nutritional supplements is large and growing


According to the trade association Complementary Medicines Australia, nutritional supplements account for nearly $4.3B in sales per year.  Of this, e-commerce accounts for nearly a quarter of purchases, over $1B in total addressable opportunity for direct-to-consumer brands.  The Australian supplements market is thriving, with an aging population and health-conscious younger generation driving demand for health supplements.

Nutritional supplements are regulated as non-prescription medicine
 

In Australia, nutritional supplements are referred to as "complementary medicines" and are regulated as medicines under the Therapeutic Goods Act.  In fact, if your product contains at least one "designated active ingredient" like vitamins, amino acids, or essential oils, it's seen as a complementary medicine (https://www.tga.gov.au/overview-regulation-complementary-medicines-australia).  Complementary medicines are regulated the same as non-prescription medicines. 

The Regulations
 

Australia has a two-tiered system to assess the risk of complementary medicines.  Lower risk medicines can be listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG), but DTC brands are not required to list their products.  Higher risk medicines must be registered on the ARTG.

Some complementary medicines like homeopathic medicines are exempt.  While most ingredients commonly-found in US products are allowed, Hoodia, Yohimbe, and DHEA are all prohibited.

What can I ship?


Direct-to-consumer (DTC) shipment do not require an import license so long as a few standards are met.  First, the order must be for the consumer's personal use and not for resale.  Next, the order cannot exceed a three-month supply.  If there is uncertainty regarding the quantity, it helps to note on the invoice, receipt, or packing slip that the quantity is under the threshold.  Lastly, the order must be commercially prepared and packaged.  While this shouldn't be a concern, it can help to state on the packaging or receipt that the product was produced in accordance with Good Manufacturing Practices

How Passport Can Help


Passport Shipping has several shipping options to help you reach Australian consumers.  A Delivered Duties Paid (DDP) service is popular because your consumer pays all duties and taxes when they purchase so there are no surprises at delivery.  We also have partnerships with regulatory consultancies in Australia.  If you aren't sure whether your specific product is ok to ship, get in touch and we'll get a professional interpretation at no cost to you.

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