Ship from US and UK to Australia: Shipping Tips and Cheapest Ways

12/22/2022

Ship from US and UK to Australia: Shipping Tips and Cheapest Ways

Australia is one of the fastest-growing eCommerce markets with a CAGR of over 13% between 2022 to 2025 and is expected to surpass $66 billion in revenue by 2025. 

Furthermore, by 2025, more than 77% of Australians are predicted to be engaging in online shopping. 

So if you’re operating an eCommerce business in the US or UK, Australia can be a great potential market to expand your operations. 

However, shipping to Australia is not that straightforward considering it’s located exactly on the opposite end of the world — from US and UK. So before you make a move, you need to understand the nitty-gritty of shipping to Australia. 

So, to help you get started, we’ve outlined important shipping tips and the cheapest ways to ship from US and UK to Australia. 

Let’s dive in. 

Tips for Shipping to Australia from US and UK

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Shipping internationally requires additional planning and groundwork in each and every aspect. Below we have outlined the aspects that you must consider when you:

  • Ship from US to Australia 
  • Ship from UK to Australia

Let’s take a look. 

Packaging

International shipments are more vulnerable to mishandling and damage due to multiple reasons. These reasons include:

  1. Shocks and vibrations during air or ocean transport
  2. Stacking or palletising 
  3. Loading and unloading packages multiple times when transport vehicle changes

So you need to prepare your packages in a way that can withstand rough handling. 

Here’s what you can do: 

  • Use double-walled corrugated boxes or reinforced parcel boxes for heavy items
  • Apply fragile labels for items that need to be handled with care
  • Use crates or pallets for large goods for better structural strength
  • Use shrink wraps or security straps for boxes and pallets
  • Use internal packagings such as lightweight foam boards or bubble wraps to fill the empty space
  • Secure fragile items with cushioning 
  • If you’re reusing old boxes,ensure structural integrity and remove old shipping labels 
  • When packaging multiple items in a box or crate, keep the heavy packages at the bottom
  • Use wide, pressure-sensitive plastic or water-activated reinforced tapes for sealing boxes. Avoid using a duct tape or masking tape.  
  • Place an extra shipping label with the shipper and recipient’s address and contact details before you seal the package

Documentation

When it comes to international shipping, customs clearance can take time. And if your documentation is incomplete, it would further delay the process and so the deliveries. 

So if you want a smooth customs clearance, keep your paperwork impeccable. 

You’d need the following documents:

  • Commercial invoice: A commercial invoice includes shipment details like the reason for export, shipping date, invoice number, description and quantity of goods, weight, declared value, etc. 
  • Air waybill: Air waybill (AWB) — also known as waybill or dispatch note — is an agreement between the carrier and shipper. Each air waybill has a unique number. It’s called the AWB number and it’s used for tracking the shipment (this will be provided by your chosen shipper upon booking). 
  • Detailed goods description: This document includes the following details: 
      1. What is the product or goods?
      2. What is it made of?
      3. What is it used for? 

It should be a very specific and clear description of the items. 

  • Packing list: Not all countries require this document. But you can include it in your documents just to be extra prepared. It mentions details like the weight and quantity of the goods. 
  • Certificate of Origin (COO): COO is issued by the government authority of the country of origin. It mentions the details of where the goods are produced, manufactured, or processed. 
  • Export licence: Exporters may need an export license to ship specific goods in volumes. It’s a legal document that is issued by the government of the exporting country. 

Import Restrictions in Australia

Australian Border Force (ABF) has listed all the goods that are prohibited to be imported into Australia. They’ve defined the categories as mentioned below and each category has a list of prohibited items. 

Categories of prohibited goods:

  • Animals and plants
  • Asbestos
  • Consumer products (credit cards, cosmetic - toxic materials, and more)
  • Defence and strategic goods
  • Drugs, medicines and therapeutic substances
  • Firearms
  • Hazardous goods
  • Intellectual property and cultural items
  • Miscellaneous
  • Tobacco
  • Weapons

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However, some of the items in the above categories might be allowed for specific agencies with special permits. 

So check the list of prohibited items for your product category before you ship them. As it may happen that your shipment might clear the export customs from US and UK but gets stuck with ABF customs in Australia. 

Besides, here’s the list of goods that can’t be sent through our automated online self-service. If you’re sending any of the items in this list, you can’t book it online, however please contact us as in many instances we can still help you book it through our personalised services. 

Shipping Time

Australia — being a remote continent, requires you to be patient when it comes to shipping from US and UK. 

US: It can take up to 7-10 working days when you ship your consignment through standard air cargo services. Whereas with the priority services, you can transport the packages in 2-3 days.

On the other hand, ocean freight can take anywhere from 35 to 65 days realistically. 

UK: UK — as compared to the US — is closer to Australia. So it may take around 2-8 working days by air cargo. And sea freight would take approximately 40-45 days.

Export Customs

According to the International Trade Administration (ITA) of the US, 95% of the items exported from the US wouldn’t require eCommerce retailers to obtain an export licence. 

Similarly, most items don’t require an export licence when you ship internationally from the UK.

However, you have to submit a customs declaration form when you ship from US and UK. This form needs to be submitted and approved by the customs authorities before your shipments are allowed to leave the country. 

Usually, major shipping carriers like UPS, FedEx, and DHL would take care of this formality using the information from your documents. Besides, if you’ve outsourced your order fulfilment to a third-party logistics (3PL) provider, they’d also help you clear customs for origin and destination countries. 

Shipping Methods

Since Australia is a remote destination and doesn’t share land borders with other nations, sea shipping and air freight are the only suitable shipping methods. 

Here are the shipping options that you can consider while shipping from US and UK to Australia using both options. 

Sea Shipping 

If your consignment is not urgent and you’re shipping in bulk, sea freight might be an ideal method to ship to Australia from US and UK. Here are some of the ways you can transport your goods by the ocean:

  • Full Container Load (FCL): FCL shipping means that you rent one or more containers exclusively for your goods. If you’re a high-volume shipper, FCL shipping can be quite cost-effective for your business. 
  • Less-than Container Load (LCL): If you don’t have enough shipment volume to fill an entire container, you can opt for LCL shipping. Here, multiple shippers share the same container to load their goods. 
  • Roll On Roll Off (RORO): Some carriers also allow you to board your transport vehicles (trucks or trailers) loaded with goods straight onto a ship. Thus, when the ship reaches the destination port and customs clearance is obtained, your vehicle drives off the ship.

Air Transport

Here are the reasons you should consider air freight:

  • You want to ship goods on an urgent basis
  • You’re shipping perishable goods
  • Your shipping volume isn’t high enough to qualify for sea freight options like LCL or FCL
  • You’re shipping high-value goods. 

Shipping Costs

Shipping costs are usually determined by factors like: 

  • Shipping distance: The farther the destination, the more you’ll pay for shipping — be it air transport or sea freight. So you’ll have to pay more shipping costs when you ship from US as compared to shipping from UK. 
  • Dimensions: Carriers sell you the space in their transport vehicles. So the larger your package size, the more you’ll pay for shipping. Moreover, if you’re shipping oversized, odd-sized, or non-stackable packages, you may need to pay extra shipping charges. 
  • Package weight: Most carriers take the package’s deadweight and volumetric weight into account while calculating shipping costs. And whichever of the two is higher, you’d be charged for that weight. 
  • Delivery speed: This specifically applies to air freight. For instance, if you’ve chosen a priority service to get your shipment delivered in 2-3 business days, the carrier would charge more. On the other hand, you’d pay less if you’ve opted for standard delivery. 

Import Customs in Australia

All the goods imported to Australia are subject to duties and taxes unless you’ve obtained an exemption or concession as a special case. 

Here’s some key information to keep in mind:

  • The declared value of imported goods should be converted to Australian currency in the customs declaration form. 
  • You need to pay a 5% import duty on the declared value of goods.
  • You need to pay 10% GST on the sum of Declared value + Freight cost + Import duty. Here’s the import duty and GST calculator for easy calculation. 

Once you pay the customs duty and taxes, your shipment will be released. 

Furthermore, also study the importing costs guidelines of the Australian Border Force to check if you need to pay additional taxes. For example, if you’re shipping luxury cars or wine, there are additional duties and taxes. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid while Shipping from US and UK to Australia

Now let’s go through the common international shipping mistakes that you need to avoid while shipping from US and UK. 

They are:

  • Knowingly or unknowingly shipping prohibited goods 
  • Miscalculating customs and duties especially while converting into AUD. 
  • Incomplete documentation
  • Not having extra copies of the documents
  • Delays in providing the required documents to the carrier when needed
  • Not buying a shipping protection plan
  • Incomplete or erroneous shipping addresses on packages and documents

Avoid the above mistakes for a seamless international shipping process. 

Partner with a 3PL for Easy International Shipping 

If you’ve followed us till now, you’d understand that international shipping is a tedious and complex process. It requires meticulous planning of packaging, documentation, selecting the right carrier, complying with exports and imports regulations, and so on. 

As an eCommerce store owner or international shipper, you need to understand all these processes in order to operate your business effectively and profitably. 

At the same time, you don’t have to invest your time and resources in managing your international shipments. You can partner with a competent third-party logistics (3PL) provider and outsource your eCommerce order fulfilment to them. 

So while you focus on growing your business globally, they’ll take care of all the international shipping requirements discussed above. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to ship from US to Australia?

There are two main transport methods to ship from US to Australia: Air transport and ocean freight. If you want to ship your cargo in bulk at the cheapest rates, you can go for sea freight. However, it can take up to 35-65 days by sea route. 

On the other hand, if you want to deliver goods as soon as possible, you can select air freight. It would cost you more but you can transport goods in 2 to 8 working days. 

How long does it take to ship from US to Australia?

It takes about 4 to 8 weeks by sea freight and 3-10 days by air transport to ship from US to Australia. 

How much does it cost to ship from UK to Australia?

Shipping costs depend on factors such as origin, destination, weight and dimensions of the package, delivery speed, etc. 

How long does it take to ship from UK to Australia?

It takes around 40-45 days by sea freight and 2-8 days by air transport to ship from UK to Australia.

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