What is a parallel import?
Many product manufacturers have arrangements with specific businesses that allow only those businesses to sell the manufacturer’s product in a particular country.
A parallel import is when a business sells a product that has been brought into Australia, but the business doesn’t have the specific permission of the product’s manufacturer to sell the product in Australia. Parallel imports are sometimes called grey imports or direct imports.
Identifying parallel imports
A product may be a parallel import if:
- the seller is not listed as an authorised seller on the website of the manufacturer or the Australian authorised distributor
- the price is significantly lower than a consumer would expect to pay for the product in Australia
- the product is not available from any Australian sellers
- the product is refurbished rather than brand new.
Consumer rights when buying parallel imports
When a consumer buys a parallel import, they have the usual rights known as
If there is a consumer guarantees problem with the parallel import product, the seller is responsible for providing a solution to the consumer. They can’t refuse to help the consumer or tell them to contact the manufacturer or any local authorised sellers of the product.
However, if the product comes with a manufacturer’s
warranty, the warranty may not apply in Australia. Check the terms and conditions of the warranty to see whether parallel imports are covered. Manufacturers and their local authorised sellers do not have to honour warranties or provide support or spare parts under warranties for parallel imports if the terms of the warranty exclude them.
When buying parallel imports, consumers should be aware that:
- if the seller is based overseas, there may be practical and legal difficulties in enforcing their rights against an overseas business.
- products may not be designed for Australian conditions
- electrical products may not work with Australian plugs or voltage
- electronic products like gaming consoles may not be licensed for use in Australia
- food may have different ingredients to similar products in Australia.
Business responsibilities when selling parallel imports
Sellers of parallel imports have all the usual responsibilities, including: