Roll On – Roll Off Shipping and Breakbulk Cargo Clearance in Australia

In the vast and intricate world of global shipping, different types of cargo require different types of shipping methods. One such method is Roll On – Roll Off (Ro-Ro) shipping, a specialised mode of maritime transport designed for cargo that can be driven into the lower decks of the vessel.

This guide aims to provide an in-depth understanding of Ro-Ro shipping, breakbulk cargo and how Platinum® can assist you with the customs clearance formalities at key Australian ports.

Understanding Roll On – Roll Off (Ro-Ro) Shipping

Ro-Ro vessels are specifically designed to hold cargo that can be driven onto and into the vessel. These cargoes can either be self-propelled or towed into the vessel’s hull. The term “roll-on, roll-off” originates from the fact that these types of cargoes are rolled onto the vessel at the loading port and rolled off at the discharge port; this type of cargo is not suitable to be placed inside a shipping container, due to its weight, dimensions and uniqueness.

The key advantage of Ro-Ro shipping lies in its simplicity and efficiency. It requires minimal cargo handling, which reduces the risk of damage to the cargo and making Ro-Ro shipping a cost-effective option for bulky, heavy and spacious items. Ro-Ro cargo would usually include passenger motor vehicles, trucks, semi-trailers, trains, buses, trams and mining equipment like drill rigs.

A Detailed Look At Breakbulk Cargo

Breakbulk cargo refers to goods that must be loaded individually into a vessel rather than transported inside 20” or 40” shipping container. This type of cargo can encompass a wide range of goods, including construction equipment, manufacturing materials or oversized vehicles that do not fit into shipping containers.


The term ‘breakbulk’ comes from the phrase ‘breaking bulk,’ which means to extract a portion of the cargo on a ship or to begin unloading. This type of cargo is often ‘broken up’ into units that can be handled individually, typically using a crane or derrick at the port or aboard the ship itself.

Your Trusted Ro-Ro Partner for Australian Border Clearance 

When importing Ro-Ro or breakbulk cargo into Australia, the process involves navigating complex regulations and procedures set down by various government agencies such as the Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF). The DAFF is very concerned with the introduction of pests into Australia and in particular the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB).

Platinum® is a trusted customs clearance facilitator in the importing process, providing expert Ro-Ro customs clearance services at major Australian ports such as Port Kembla, Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle. Our team of experienced customs clearance professionals ensure that your Ro-Ro cargo clears the two stages of border control swiftly and efficiently; allowing you to focus on your core business.

    Port Kembla – A Key Hub for Ro-Ro and Breakbulk Cargo

    Port Kembla is a significant hub for Ro-Ro and breakbulk cargo in Australia, located in the Illawarra region of New South Wales. The port boasts comprehensive facilities to handle Ro-Ro cargo, making it a popular choice for heavy machinery importers and exporters alike.

    Other Critical Australian Ro-Ro Ports

    In addition to Port Kembla, Platinum® also provides customs clearance services at other major Ro-Ro ports across Australia; these include Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle. These ports are each equipped with the necessary infrastructure to handle Ro-Ro and breakbulk cargo. This allows for efficient and safe cargo unloading upon arrival, ensuring that your Ro-Ro cargo reaches its destination promptly and in optimal condition.


    Whether you are importing passenger motor vehicles, earthmoving machinery, drill rigs, buses, trains, trams, construction equipment or other bulky items, understanding the unique requirements of Ro-Ro and breakbulk cargo shipping and handling is paramount. With Platinum® you have a customs partner who is working with you to navigate the two border controls and to also have the cargo exit the terminal promptly to avoid daily storage costs. The larger the Ro-Ro cargo, the larger the storage bill. Platinum® is aware of the issues that will arise before the issues even do arise. Platinum® navigates both the customs clearance process and the quarantine release, so that your cargo can depart the terminal with minimal stress and cost. Rely upon Platinum® to customs clear your Ro-Ro cargo.

    Contact Platinum® Today!

    1300 882 877