Customs data

This project is the continuation of a Hub pilot project to use customs data to understand import and export commodities passing through Australia's ports, and airports. Information is submitted by exporters and importers or their agents to the Integrated Cargo System (ICS), managed by Australian Border Force (ABF). The customs data on the National Freight Data Hub is from the Australian Bureau of Statistics International Merchandise Trade data. This is a dataset extracted from the ABF Integrated Cargo System. It contains commodity information by tonnes and value, port of departure, port of arrival, country of origin and destination, and mode of transport.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics cleans and aggregates the data by making adjustments for coverage, timing and valuation. Further, as part of the confidentiality process, some of the statistics for certain commodities are restricted in order to prevent their identification. The ABS Methodology provides detailed information about the data cleaning process undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Additional information on ABS methodology for making edits and ensuring confidentiality can be found in publication International Merchandise Trade, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods on the Data sources and compilation methods (section 4.22 to 4.27) and the Confidential Commodities List.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics provides the data to the National Freight Data Hub under a creative commons licence and releases the historic data through the data catalogue.

This project aims to share more and better-quality data from the ICS out to trusted government and industry decision makers while managing the challenge of data quality and confidentiality. This will provide richer information on what commodities are flowing in and out of Australia's ports, including inside containers, as well as the origins and destinations of freight.

There are significant long-term benefits to making more customs data openly available. In particular, this kind of information can support investment planning decisions made by industry and governments.

This project addresses enduring questions 1-4.

Please contact us if you would like to be updated on, or involved in, the development of this project.


  • Sharing more detailed ICS data through the NFDH will enable governments and industry to collaborate on planning and delivering infrastructure investments to improve the efficiency, safety, productivity and resilience of freight transport and logistics networks.
  • New data shared from the ICS will enable ports, state governments, and Australian Government agencies to build on the ABS data for International Merchandise Trade to better plan for and invest in the efficiency and resilience of the freight and supply chain networks of Australia's sea and air ports.
  • Cleansing and checking ICS data consistently, efficiently and transparently at a central point in the NFDH will deliver improved data quality and efficiencies and savings in data management, by avoiding duplication of these functions across data users. For example, some of the benefits of expensive once-off origin and destination supply chain studies done by ports and state governments can potentially be achieved when a reliable, consistent data extract can be provided.

Initially Planned Outputs

  1. Exploratory data analysis report to understand the limitations in the ICS data set to facilitate interpretation and its feasibility to support the enduring freight data questions.
  2. Draft agreement to enable on-sharing of data with Trusted Users.

Related data projects:


See About Page for detail on the current data limitations of this project.
Truck Movement Data Container Data
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