Tips on Transportation and Customs Clearance of Australia’s Imports from China

Give full guide for your cargo from China to Australia including shipping routes,shipping transporation way and custom clearance documents,tarrif and GST calculation.
cargo from China to Australia

Background of import from China to Australia

Australia’s main imports from China include electromechanical products, textiles, furniture, toys and miscellaneous products, of which the total imports in 2018 were US $ 34.17 billion, accounting for 61.5% of Australia’s total imports from China. In addition to the above products, base metals and products, plastics and rubber, and chemical products are also major categories. This shows that Australia is a very important export market for China. If you are also an Australian importer and trading products from China, this article can give you a detailed guide.

1. What are the shipping options for products from China to Australia?

As we all know, from a geographic perspective, Australia is the only country in the world that covers a whole continent, surrounded by the sea. Australia has a superior geographic location, being not only a supply station for fresh water, fuel and food for ships and aircrafts moving between Asia and South America, Africa and North and South America, but also an interchange of submarine cables in the world. Therefore, Australia’s port industry is very developed and there are many international airports. 

Option 1: Container sea transport (including FCL and LCL) from China to Australia

The ports commonly used in Australia include:
1) Sydney
2) Melbourne            
3) Brisbane            
4) Perth           
5) Adelaide            
6) Fremantle
Maritime container transport is suitable for most goods transportation from China to Australia. As listed by the Chinese industrial authority, the goods suitable for container shipping include 12 categories, i.e. transportation electronics, instruments, small machinery, glass and ceramics, handicrafts, printing and paper, medicine, tobacco, alcohol, food, daily necessities, chemicals, textiles and small hardware.         
From the major ports in China to the above six ports in Australia, the time required is roughly shown in the table below:




Option 2: Air transport  from China to Australia

Air transportation is suitable for those goods with tight delivery time and special goods such as fresh fruits and vegetables. There are ten international airports in Australia, namely Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Gold Coast, Launceston, Melbourne, Perth.
1.Sydney airport is the largest, having airlines to many Chinese cities including Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Qingdao, Kunming. And most airlines offer both passenger and cargo services. 
2.Melbourne Airport is the second largest international airport. With more and more Chinese immigrating to Melbourne, there is a growing demand for airlines from China to Melbourne. More than 10 cities in China have opened international air routes to Melbourne Airport. Besides passenger transport, cargo service is also available. 
3.Hobart airport is a very small international airport with only a few flights connecting. Most goods need to be transferred from Sydney airport.
4.Gold Coast Airport is located in Queensland. Although also one of the top ten airports in Australia, there are a small number of goods transported to here by air. Most of time it’s used for passengers only. So we can see that the air cargo from China to Australia can be directly transported to big cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, that is to say, within the same day. Other destinations can also be transferred through Sydney, which is expected to arrive within 3-5 days. 

2. Which documents shall be provided for Australian import customs clearance?

Generally speaking, the Australian customs clearance needs certificate of origin, bill of lading, invoice, packing list and packaging certificate. 

No.1 Certificate of Origin for China-Australia Free Trade Zone Agreement

According to the Free Trade Agreement between the two national governments, by 2019, basically all Chinese products exported to Australia will enjoy zero tariff treatment. Therefore, in order to reduce or exempt tariffs, you must ask the exporter to provide this certificate of origin. If the exporter forgets to do so, it must be treated in accordance with the general most-favored-nation treatment, and tariffs may probably be generated. 

Notes as below:
1) ship date
This is the ON BOARD date on the bill of lading.
2) vessel name and voyage number
This must be consistent with the bill of lading.
3) Invoice number and date
The invoice number on the certificate of origin must be the same as the invoice number provided to the importer. Pay special attention to the invoice date, which can only be earlier than the ship’s departure date, that is, at least earlier than the ON BOARD date. Otherwise, once the customs inspects, it is likely to cause problems. Because according to general international trade practice, the invoice should have specific data after the container is loaded, the date of the invoice must be earlier than the date of ON BOARD.
4) The product name of the certificate of origin must be consistent with the bill of lading and the invoice.
5) The specific number and gross weight on the certificate of origin must be consistent with the bill of lading and the packing list for the same reasons as the previous note.
6) The first 6 digits of HS code on the certificate of origin must be consistent with the actual product.
By doing the above 6 points, the certificate of origin can basically qualify and assure no worry. Additionally, the certificate of origin can be provided in scanned form instead of the original copy. 

No.2: Bill of lading

The sea bill of lading is a document of property rights, and the importer must obtain the original bill of lading or the bill of lading for customs clearance. Otherwise, the cargo rights are not available, and the goods cannot be cleared. The key data on the bill of lading are the following:
1) The consignee must be accurate and consistent with the information on the invoice and the certificate of origin.
2) The data must be consistent with the certificate of origin, the invoice and the packing list.
A copy of the air waybill can be applied because it is not a document of property right, but the two issues above also need attention.

No.3: the invoice and the packing list

Invoices and packing slips, as traditional customs clearance documents, must be provided to the importer. Specifically in Australia, invoices and packing list can be provided thru a stamped copy of scanned copy printing. The data on the invoice and packing list must be consistent with the data on the bill of lading, and must be consistent with the data on the certificate of origin. Such as gross weight, the total gross weight on the bill of lading should be the same as the total gross weight on the bill of lading. Otherwise, there will be problems.

No.4: the packing declaration

This file is a required file for export to Australia. The format is roughly as shown in the screenshot below. It must also be provided by the exporter.
Australia packing declaration
First, write the company name and address in the header. Then fill in the ship name, the voyage number and the bill of lading number (if it is a House bill, the corresponding number should be written here.).
This document mainly answers 3 questions
1) Are unacceptable raw materials (such as straw, peat, grass, bran, used fruits and vegetables, etc.) used in product packaging? If not, check NO.
2) Are there any raw materials such as bamboo and wood used in product packaging?
There are 3 options
The first is wood, the second is bamboo, and the third is neither.
If not, check NO to end the filling.
If there is, you must go to the third option, and explain whether it has been processed.
If it is packed in a carton, you only need to check the first 2 NOs to complete the process.
Just stamp and sign in the bottom left corner and let the exporter scan it for you. 

3. Australian import duty and GST for cargo from China

As mentioned above, because China and Australia have signed a free trade agreement, basically all products exported to Australia do not need tariff, that is to say, zero tariff treatment. But zero tariff does not mean there is no other tax. Specifically, in Australia, all imported products will be subject to GST.
How is GST calculated?            
The formula is: GST tax = (CIF value + import duty) * 10%. In addition to GST, the customs will charge a processing fee of about $96 or $194 per ticket, which varies according to the value of the goods. To be exact, if FOB value is less than $10000, it will be charged at $96; if FOB value is more than $10000, it will be charged at $194.
GST charges will be informed thru the customs charge form, which is usually forwarded by the customs clearance agent. The INCOTERMS terms shall be specially noted, because the GST payer can use this invoice for cost deduction. If the customs declaration agent in Australia follows the terms of Incoterms DDP, the owner on the GST invoice is the Chinese exporter. If following FOB terms, the owner on this GST invoice is the importer. In general, it is recommended to inform the customs agent to declare as per FOB, so that the importer can get this GST form as a cost invoice.

4. summary for transportation and custom clearance for cargo from China to Australia

The above explains in detail different transport options, transportation time, documents,customs duties and other taxes required for customs clearance regarding Australia’s imports from China. If you encounter difficulties in the actual process, feel free to contact us. As a professional Chinese international freight forwarding company, we have a strong agency network in Australia, which can help to provide a series of services such as import customs clearance and transportation at the destination port.


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