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Commonwealth Government Records about South Australia

5. Customs

The collection of customs in South Australia was sanctioned in the British Act of Parliament that created the colony. The first Collector of Customs was Captain Thomas Lipson RN who arrived in the colony in 1836. On 25 April 1838 an ordinance was passed for the collection of import duties on wines, spirits and tobacco.

Port Adelaide was the first proclaimed port in South Australia. It was proclaimed on 25 March 1837 to collect import duties. By 1889 a total of 40 outposts existed, including Port Lincoln, Port Robe and Port Elliott. The introduction of customs stations on the colony's borders occurred later, with the increase in population and the advent of inter-colonial railways.

The Customs Act 1901 formalised the transfer of the customs function from the colony of South Australia to the Commonwealth Government, where it was administered by the Department of Trade and Customs.

The state collectors of customs were responsible to a sequence of Commonwealth departments until 1985, when the Commonwealth Government passed legislation establishing the Australian Customs Service as an independent agency within the Industry, Technology and Commerce portfolio. Records created by the South Australian Collector of Customs, then the Australian Customs Service, South Australia include shipping registers; immigration files; volumes of stamps, seals and labels; passenger and crew lists; distillery diaries; and correspondence.

Adelaide and Sydney
Administrative records
Recorded by: Collector of Customs/Australian Customs Service, State Administration, South Australia
Correspondence files, 1871–1962 D596
Correspondence concerning the opening and closing of the customs and excise station at Murray Bridge, South Australia, 1907–12 AP258/5
Correspondence files (National Security Regulations), 1939–45 D1975
Correspondence files, 'SB' (Shipping Branch), 1939–51 D1976
Correspondence files, 'SC' (South Australia confidential) and 'SS' (South Australia secret), 1940–97 D1516
Correspondence files, 'S', 1962– D737
Confidential instructions (old system), 1900–45 AP378/37
Collector of Customs Port Adelaide letter book (outwards), 1900–16 D5101
Record book of letters received, 1903–47 D5085
Docket correspondence files, 1889–1900 D4868
Docket correspondence files relating to the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act, 1905, 1906–11 D4877
Policy and procedure files, 'S', 1943–86 D5051
Register of fines, seizures and detention, 1923–66 D5003
Sydney and Adelaide
Goods and stores
Clearing Branch registers, 1882–1955 AP203/1
Warehouse keepers' registers, 1902–17 AP354/7
Registers of ships stores exported, 1919–37 AP254/2
Boarding and ships' stores registers, Port Adelaide, 1954–61 AP404/5
Register of goods sold at customs sales, 1885–1937 AP354/4
Register of entry into South Australia of certain commodities, 1894–1901 AP354/2
Record of seized, forfeited goods sold at auction, 1903–32 AP354/3
Register of opium received into and transferred within South Australia, 1905–26 AP214/14
Bonds for goods landed and transported on collectors orders (bonds to customs), 1879–1901 AP52/1
Boat licence books, 1902–24 D5307
Carriage licence book, 1902–33 D5306
Customs agents and sub-agents licence books, 1911–80 D3176
Licence to import opium, morphine and cocaine, 1928–57 D5308
Adelaide and Sydney
Customs and excise
Historical records relating to customs and excise, South Australia, 1841–1995 D5063
Customs and excise stamps and seals, 1837–1963 AP214/21
Customs and excise securities register, 1902–28 AP258/13
Excise circulars and memos, 1936–52 D5064
Sydney and Adelaide
Customs and Excise salaries books, 1906–11 AP258/11
Customs and Excise salaries register, 1906–14 AP258/12
Record of officers' service, 1901–53 D5139
Documents concerning Captain HW Harris (one of the first pilots employed by the Marine Board of South Australia), 1842–1903 AP258/1
Sydney and Canberra
Recorded by: Sub-collector of Customs, Whyalla, South Australia
General correspondence files, 'SY', Whyalla, 1955–73 AP1133/1
Correspondence and operations files, 'Y', Whyalla, 1965–85 D3926
Recorded by: Sub-collector of Customs, Port Augusta, South Australia
Collector of Customs Port Augusta letter book (outgoing correspondence), 1892–1911 D5102
Adelaide and Sydney
Recorded by: Collector of Customs/Australian Customs Service, State Administration, South Australia
Register of ports, wharves and boundary stations in South Australia, 1845–1940 D5135
Register 'Return for the Commissioner of His Majesty's Customs – London', 1854–77 AP354/5
Shipping registers, inwards and outwards, 1904–08 AP214/13
Miscellaneous shipping branch registers, 1909–36 AP212/3
Register of agents notice to clear vessels, 1911–34 AP214/10
Notices of detention, treatment of neutral and enemy ships in time of war, 1914 AP258/10
Registers of shipping inwards, 1919–26 AP214/18
Register of ships arrivals (interstate ships), 1924–57 D457
Inwards shipping registers, Port Adelaide, 1926–58 AP404/3
Shipping registers, Port Adelaide, 1932–67 AP578/1
Register of outwards shipping, 1940–69 AP777/4
Shipping registers and ledgers, inwards and outwards, 1943–93 D3174
Shipping registers, 1953–94 D5070
Boarding and ships' stores registers, Port Adelaide, 1954–61 AP404/5
Recorded by: Sub-collector of Customs/Australian Customs Service, Whyalla, South Australia
Shipping registers (inwards/outwards), Whyalla, 1930–70 AP1134/1
Royal Commission on intercolonial free trade, 1891 D5063, 258
Royal Commission on Customs and Excise Tariff 1906 – excise section, 1906–65 D737, S1966/11804
Swiss warrant of arrest – Hans Haldemann, 1937–38 D596, 1937/8508
Export Bounty Act, 1946 D596, 1946/2126
Registers of approved labels, 1929–65 D5063, SA2
Registers of approved labels, 1929–65 D5063, SA3
Registers of approved labels, 1929–65 D5063, SA4

Register of British Ships

The Register of British Ships records the ship's name, official number, port of registration and other details. An alphabetical index to all the microfilm registers held by the Archives is available online. This index provides basic information about the ship, the correct roll and register entry.

Recorded by: Australian Customs Service, State Administration, South Australia
Register of British Ships certificates of British Registry, Port Adelaide, 1838–44 A7507
Register of British Ships main register prior to Merchant Shipping Act, 1854, Port Adelaide, 1838–55 A7505
Register of British Ships continuation register, Port Adelaide, 1841–55 A7506
Register of British Ships index by name of ship, Port Adelaide, 1847–1982 A7508
Register of British Ships appropriation book for official numbers, Port Adelaide, 1855–1982 A7510
Register of British Ships main register subsequent to Merchant Shipping Act 1854, Port Adelaide, 1855–1982 A7509
Register of British Ships registry of shipping deeds book, Port Adelaide, 1920–65 A7511


Chapter 5