As an importer, timelines and commitments are vital for your business, and these can be severely disrupted by public holidays. Easter is almost upon us, and that means that cargo will accumulate at the wharf if not cleared beforehand. Quarantine and Customs will be on skeleton resources from Good Friday on April 14th through and including Easter Monday on April 17th.
Peter McRae, CEO of Platinum® Freight, shares his top tips for making sure the Easter holidays don’t have a detrimental effect on your business.
1. Allow extra time
Allowing for extra days to have your goods arrive at your premise, extra days for processing through Customs and Quarantine especially in the week approaching Easter. Due to the increase in the amount of goods being ordered and shipped, this can lead to a variety of setbacks such as containers being stuck at the wharf compounded with Customs delays. Planning a few weeks in advance and allowing a buffer in the shipping time-line will help you to avoid these problems.
In addition, take into account the possibility of additional delays such as the possibility of strike action by stevedores. Strikes are usually timed to cause maximum disruption, such as in the run-up to public holidays.
2. Budget for additional costs
As well as allowing extra time for shipping and customs clearance, you should also allow extra in your financial budget for the additional costs that can be incurred by the unavoidable delays over public holidays. The airline terminals, sea freight depots and wharf will continue to charge storage after the initial free time. The cost of wharf storage can increase dramatically.
You may also face increase costs from the shipping lines who charges rent on the container after the initial free period. Public holidays, as well as other possible delays such as strike action, can mean that stock could be left in a container for days before you are able to have it opened and unpacked. This will result in rental charges being levied by the shipping line and payable by you each day until the empty container is returned back to the wharf.
When budgeting, it’s important to plan for the worse-case scenario to avoid getting into a financial mess, as this can seriously harm your profits.
3. Communicate with your suppliers
It’s important to stay in contact with your suppliers in the run-up to busy periods, to make sure everything is running to schedule. If any of your goods are covered by Free Trade Agreements (FTA’s), you should check that your suppliers have obtained the right certificates in good time to avoid any delays in Australia.
It’s also essential to book your shipment in early and try to obtain the best transit times and rates from your suppliers (higher demand equals higher prices). This is particularly important if you are importing stock that will need to be replenished over the Easter holiday period.
4. Secure an early customs clearance
Experienced importers may want to consider securing the services of an experienced customs broker to pre-clear their goods well before they arrive into Australia. This will ensure that they won’t be caught up in any Customs delays in the run-up to the Easter holidays. Pre-clearance will be of enormous benefit when it comes to planning the logistics and transportation of your goods.
For first-time importers – this is especially important for you – don’t just sit and wait to be notified that your shipment is about to arrive – be on top of your game.
5. Ask for help if needed
Importing is a confusing business; especially if you import from various parts of the world. The onus is on the importer when it comes to planning for increased shipping and Customs clearance times and the additional costs that can be incurred, no matter who appears to be at fault. Therefore it’s absolutely vital to get your planning right, and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if you are not completely sure what is happening.
The customs clearance experts at Platinum® Freight Management will be happy to answer any questions that you may have in the run-up to the Easter holidays. Call us on 1300 882 877 for further help and advice.