How to avoid customs clearance delays when importing into Australia

Customs clearance delays are costing importers lots of money. As a rule, they only have three days to clear their goods through customs and quarantine upon its arrival. If it takes longer than this, then certain fees will be added to your cost. This includes wharf storage fees between $100 and $250 per container per day. The other penalties and fees include the following:

FCL Detention (Full Container Load)
Detention rates apply if the total delivery time from pick up at wharf to unpack at your premises and off hire of the empty container exceeded the allowed time.

LCL Detention (Less than a Container Load)
Detention rates for LCL may also apply if waiting time at pick up or drop off has exceeded the allocated time.

Via Depot
This is an additional cost if they are unable to take the delivery of the container and the available wharf time has already lapsed.

This is a fee paid for cargo travelling to country areas as ordered by the quarantine inspection officer.

Steam clean
This is required by the quarantine officer if they have identified dirt on your container.

This applies to wooden products or cargo that uses wood as packaging.

Missed timeslot at the wharf
This may happen due to incorrect paperworks.

Futile trip to wharf
When the cargo misses its timeslot, a trucking company has to go to the wharf and pick up the container that has been delayed by customs.

Wharf or depot storage
This is another add-on cost due to insufficient paperwork to clear cargo before storage commences.

Container Demurrage
If the container is not returned to the shipping line within the allowed free time, then additional fees will be implemented.

Based on the discretion of the customs officer, you cargo may be required to be unpacked.

Customs clearance delays causesMajor causes of customs clearance delays

How do you avoid this from happening? Read on.

Avoid customs clearance delays: Have all the required documentation complete and ready

It is best to complete and submit the following documents to your customs broker at least 5 days prior to the estimated time of arrival (ETA) to avoid unwanted customs clearance delays to your cargo.

Bill of Lading
This contains the precise contents of your shipment, which is issued by your chosen freight forwarder to the shipper at the port of export. You’ll find it easier if you are working with a freight forwarding company that also delivers customs brokerage services to make this process simpler and more convenient.

Franklin has both freight forwarding and customs brokerage services to assist you with your needs. Call us, today.

Sample bill of ladingSample bill of lading

NOTE: Your bill of lading may be issued as an Original Bill of Lading (OBL), Express Release or Telex Release. All of which are absolutely needed prior to your cargo being released at the port. Thus it is very important for you to have this document.

Commercial Invoice or Packing List
This has a detailed list of what is contained inside your shipment. It is best to have the original packing list as this is commonly asked by most customs brokers.

Packing list to avoid customs clearance delaysPacking list to avoid customs clearance delays

Packing declaration
This document contains the packaging used in moving your goods. Remember, that wood packaging has to be fumigated prior to it being released at the port. Thus it becomes the basis of quarantine whether or not your cargo has to be fumigated or not.

Packing declaration to avoid customs clearance delaysPacking declaration to avoid customs clearance delays

NOTE: If you are a frequent importer or exporter, Franklin can get an annual packing declaration from the shipper and have it approved by the quarantine department. Once approved, this will apply to all the shipments from your supplier within a 12-month time frame.

Additional documentation required

Other documents you may need to prepare are the following:

  • Phytosanitary certificate
  • Packing lists
  • Manufacturer’s declarations
  • Lot codes and batch numbers
  • Fumigation certificates
  • Costings and assist sheets
  • Permits
  • Certificate of Origin
  • Certificate of Analysis

Do you have questions with the above mentioned documents? Send us a message so we can properly assist you.

Preparing the cargo delivery after customs clearance

After your cargo has been cleared, it has to be delivered from the wharf, air bond store or LCL unpacking depot. To avoid having any problems with your choice of vehicle, it is best to know what type of delivery vehicle you should choose:

Standard Truck and Trailer
This is best suited for conventional deliveries. It delivers your cargo on the back of a truck to your loading dock while unloading the goods directly from the container into your chosen warehouse.

Truck with a rigid tray
This is the best option for tray truck delivery options. It is used when there is a restricted space and a normal articulated truck and trailer will not fit. It is short length allowing it to access premises where there is a shortage of space.

Standard truck and trailer
This is perfect for drop trailer type of shipments. The container is driven to your premise and simply left on the trailer for unloading.

Truck with trailer equipped with lifting arms
This is the vehicle of choice for side loader types of delivery. Using this vehicle, the container is delivered to the premises and lifted to the ground with the lifting arms fitted to the trailer.

Choice of vehicles to avoid customs clearance delaysChoice of vehicles to avoid customs clearance delays

Additional tips to avoid customs clearance delays

In as much as you wish to do it on your own, there are many rules, regulations, forms and terms that are too unfamiliar for you. Thus the need to follow these additional tips and advice.

Ask the help of expert customs brokers

Acknowledge the help of expert customs clearance brokers who can help you properly file your goods. These professionals have studied long years. They have mastered Free Trade Agreements, Concessions, duties, taxes and GST for the purpose of serving importers and exporters.

Let your customs broker and freight forwarder collaborate with one another

Enquire if your freight forwarder is allowing your customs broker to have access to their records so they can ‘copy’ the paperwork and have it pre-checked for errors. This is especially important for goods that require special quarantine requirements and clearances.

Freight forwarder and broker collaboration to avoid customs clearance delaysFreight forwarder and broker collaboration to avoid customs clearance delays

If this is not possible, ask in advance if the commercial and regulatory documents mentioned earlier can be forwarded to you, the importer, at least 5 days prior to the vessel berthing at the first Australian port.

Consider effects of holidays

Holidays such as Christmas, Chinese New Year and Easter are just some of the periods which puts an excessive demand to the whole supply chain. These seasonal peak demands can cause several delay on your end, as you can find it very difficult to book your cargo accordingly.

Customs clearance delays and the holiday rushCustoms clearance delays and the holiday rush

Avoid this hassle by arranging this with your chosen freight forwarder and customs broker ahead of time. Otherwise, be prepared to have your ordered good arrive after the holiday season.

Do you have additional questions? We are happy to help you with it. Send us a message so you can avoid customs clearance delays when importing into Australia.