Whenever you are purchasing goods from overseas, you will need to ask your supplier how they intend to send your goods to Australia. 

There are two key people that you need whenever you wish to move goods from point A to point B; a freight forwarder who essentially brokers for shipping services and a customs broker who brokers for customs and quarantine formalities. 

6 key points when choosing the right shipping method for your products.

1. In general, if the packages are less than 20 kilograms it would be best to send the goods through the postal network. If the goods are less than $1000 AUD, the package would be delivered to your home or work or to the nearest post office for collection. 

2. If the packages are over $1000 AUD then you will receive a letter in the mail asking you to complete the customs clearance forms.

You will also have to pay any import duty and or import GST before the package can be delivered to your work or the nearest post office for collection.

3. If you need the small packages urgently, you could ask your overseas supplier to send the goods with an express carrier like DHL, FEDEX, TNT or UPS.

Express carriers will collect the goods from your supplier’s warehouse and then deliver them to your home or work (after you have paid any necessary import duty and or import GST). The express carriers do everything from the point of collection to the point of delivery (including customer brokering), for that one price that has been quoted.

4. If you have small parcels that are less than 100 kilograms, you may still be suited to ship with an express carrier like DHL, FEDEX, TNT or UPS. This would need to be assessed on a case-by-case situation – as the higher the weight of the shipment, the higher the price to ship the goods.

5. As the air freight shipments become larger, it will be prohibitively expensive to rely upon an express carrier and your cargo will either ‘graduate’ to general air cargo or sea freight shipping.

The key question that will need to be asked is ‘do I need the goods in 5 days or in 1 – 2 months (depending upon where the goods are travelling from). If you choose general air cargo, then usually your overseas supplier will ship the goods by air for you and your customs broker will ‘pre-clear’ the cargo before it arrives in Australia.

6. If you have chosen sea freight, then either your supplier can ship the goods to Australia or your Australian freight forwarder or customs broker can organise to have the goods shipped from overseas to Australia.

The benefit of allowing your Australian freight forwarder or customs broker to move the goods from overseas to Australia is that there is more certainty around pricing and costs. Your Australian freight forwarder will liaise with the shipping agency overseas to make the booking to move the goods to Australia. 

Peter McRae, CEO Platinum® Freight Management Pty Ltd, Adjunct Lecturer with the Centre for Customs and Excise Studies, Charles Sturt University, Master of International Customs Law and Administration, Master of International Revenue Administration.