If you are importing goods to Australia via sea, you will have to go through a number of different steps in order to ensure that you comply with all regulations and avoid delays as much as possible. What are the various steps involved?
Points of the Journey
To begin with, the shipment has to be booked onto its form of transportation from its origin and everything will then need to be cleared before the goods can be loaded onto the vessel. Next, the freight will need to sail the high seas on its way to its port of destination in Australia. Usually, a sheath of important documents is given to the shipper and the importer and these docs will need to be checked when the vessel arrives at the port.
There are a number of different ports around the Australian seaboard that are licensed to receive incoming freight and the vessel will dock at one of these locations. Work will already have commenced at this port in order to help clear the ship as quickly as possible and the officials will be ready to inspect the goods as they arrive so that they can be released in good time. Sometimes, goods will need to be booked into quarantine, but otherwise they will need to be inspected by customs officers as part of the next step. All of this work needs to be accomplished in a certain timeframe and the agents and importers are also responsible for moving the freight out of the terminal inspection point, to avoid any additional storage charges.
A number of important documents are required. Most importantly, the bill of lading is evidence of the contract between the owner and the shipper, to transport the materials between the origin and destination. Essentially, this is proof of ownership of the cargo and there are usually two different types of document. Ordinarily, an original bill of lading is produced as soon as the freight is put onto the ship at its origin. Without this document the freight cannot be released and usually the shipper will only forward the bill of lading once all payments have been received. Occasionally, a different type of document can be issued known as an "express release" bill of lading, and this helps to avoid courier fees associated with processing, as documents are sent electronically.
Note, most consignments are assessed for customs duty and taxes according to a tariff laid down by the Australian government. These figures are based on the customs value itemised in the documentation. You may also have to consider goods and sales tax, which is calculated based on the value of the goods, the transport cost, duty and insurance combined.
Finally, there may be entry processing fees to pay, based on each container and if the goods need to go into quarantine for any reason, this will also attract additional fees.
Figuring Out Your Needs
Contact a customs clearance service to determine what type of documentation you need and the total costs involved.