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Eleven questions to ask before importing homewares

Importing homewares for house proud Australians can be a profitable exercise. However, without knowledge of importation requirements, regulations and processes, there can be unnecessary obstacles. This guide contains information to smooth the transition of your goods from overseas supplier to your store’s shelves.

To protect Australian agriculture and livestock industries, all goods coming into Australia are subject to strict customs and quarantine restrictions. In particular, goods containing any animal, plant or wood components such as furniture, accessories or dinner sets with plantbased chopsticks may be subject to quarantine regulations, including fumigation. Some products, such as ceramics, may be rejected due to excessive lead or cadmium levels, while others will require permits that must be issued before the goods are shipped.

To clearly understand the restrictions imposed and the permits or certificates required by Australian Border Force and Australian Quarantine Inspection Services (AQIS), consult Magellan Logistics before placing your order.

All goods imported into Australia must have commercial markings required by the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act 1905 (CTDA) and the Commerce (Imports) Regulations 1940. For example, retail goods must be marked with the Country of Manufacture.

For more information on the commercial markings your goods might require, call Magellan Logistics or see the Australian Border Force website, www.abf.gov.au.

While import duty applies to most goods imported into Australia, rates vary between products. All duty rates are now either 5% or duty-free. However, goods from developing countries maybe eligible for a discounted rate. Contact Magellan Logistics to determine what duty amounts apply to your goods.

The terms of purchase you negotiate with your supplier affect the shipping costs you are liable to pay. So understanding the following terms will eliminate any nasty surprises with regard to your obligations and any risks involved.

Free on Board (FOB): Supplier pays all the costs of getting the goods loaded on the vessel/ plane. When you buy goods under FOB terms and nominate Magellan Logistics you will:

  • have agreed rates from the port through to delivery to your door
  • be able to track your shipment
  • understand the most cost-effective shipment method
  • get honest feedback on shipment dates and cargo availability.

Cost Insurance Freight (CIF): Your supplier pays all costs of insurance and freight. This means that you have no choice as to the service providers used, despite the fact that these costs will be billed to you.

  • Your supplier chooses the forwarder
  • Your supplier’s forwarder will choose the shipment method – regardless of the cost to you
  • You may be unable to track your goods.
  • The forwarder’s Australian agent may only notify you once the goods are at the dock, causing delays in planning wharf clearance, delivery and distribution.

Ex-works: You pay all the costs from the supplier’s factory to the port plus actual shipping costs.

Yes. In fact, a multi-vendor consolidation can save substantial freight and local port costs. If your shipment is Less than a Container (LCL), we can coordinate LCLs from your other suppliers to make up a Full Container Load (FCL) that complies with weight restrictions and meets your deadline.

Meeting a seasonal deadline requires an adequate lead time to schedule your goods on a vessel/flight, clear customs and deliver and distribute your goods prior to the season start. Magellan can liaise with your supplier, co-ordinate the transport schedule and confirm exfactory and shipping dates through our local agents. They can advise total transit times from the supplier’s factory through to your door.

A “triangle” shipment occurs when you arrange to immediately export your products to a third country; e.g. shipping branded products made in China to the US.

Triangle shipments require attention-to-detail and diligence and we’ve co-ordinated shipments from various Asian ports to places like Reykjavik in Iceland through to Johannesburg in South Africa.

Engage Magellan to negotiate freight rates, liaise with your supplier and track your order from the Port of Loading to the Port of Discharge. You’ll be kept updated on the estimated time of Departure (ETD) and the Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) as well as your shipment’s progress. You can even track your shipment’s progress on our website.

Using the Magellan website (www.magellanlogistics.com.au), you can easily track your goods by your order number via the MagTrack Portal. You’ll clearly see the shipping, arrival and actual delivery dates. And you can export this information in an Excel format for your in-house reports. When you engage Magellan, you’ll receive notifications at the time of booking, time of shipment and prior to your books arriving.

To ensure your cargo is released and cleared through customs, you’ll require the following:

  1. Bill of Lading that details the precise contents of the shipment and is issued by the Freight Forwarder to the shipper at the port of export.
  2. Commercial Invoice that details the items contained in your shipment.
  3. Packing Declaration this is a requirement for all LCL and FCL shipments. Contact Magellan Logistics for templates.
  4. Fumigation Certificate this is required if any packaging that may require fumigation; e.g. wood not treated to international standard IPSM 15, has been used.

For more detail on customs and documentation requirements, please see our guide: How to Avoid Delays with Australian Border Force.

To ensure safety and expedite cargo deliveries, ensure you stipulate the correct equipment for delivery. Sending the wrong vehicle can result in additional and unexpected charges. Know how your cargo is arriving and what type of vehicle is required.

There are three main ways to get your cargoes delivered:

Standard Delivery: Truck with container on a trailer that waits whilst you unpack.

Drop Trailer: Truck leaves trailer with container on at your premises for unpacking.

Sideloader: Truck with specialised trailer that has its own lifting equipment will drop the container on the ground at your premises.

Certain time and weight restrictions apply to each method of delivery. Please check our guide: How to Avoid Delays with Australian Border Force.

LCL shipments are delivered by van, utility vehicle or truck depending on the size/cubic metres of the shipment.

No one likes unexpected expenses; yet unclear information, insufficient documentation, inappropriate packaging or importation of goods that require permits can result in extra wharf or airline depot charges.

Additional charges may apply in the following circumstances:

FCL Detention – Cartage companies allocate a set amount of time for pick up from the wharf, delivery to the your premises, unpack of the container and offhire of the empty container. If the delivery exceeds the allocated amount of time, detention is charged for additional time the truck is on the job.

LCL Detention – Similar to FCL detention, if the pick up/delivery time exceeds the allocated time allowed by the cartage company, detention is charged.

Via Depot – If the importer is unable to take delivery of the container and it has to be taken back to the Cartage Depot, a charge applies.

Tailgate – A quarantine inspection ordered for cargo travelling outside the metropolitan zone.

Steamclean – If Quarantine identifies dirt on a container before it leaves the wharf, they will order it for steam clean prior to delivery

Fumigation – Wooden products or packing was not fumigated at the port of origin.

Missed Timeslot – The timeslot at the wharf wasn’t used due to a customs hold; i.e. missing or incorrect paperwork.

Wharf or Depot Storage: Goods are not customs cleared and picked up within the free time allowed.

Container Demurrage: Empty containers are not returned within the free time allowed for import delivery.

A thorough understanding of the purpose, processes and requirements of the Australian Border Force is vital to the smooth importation of any goods into Australia. For more information visit their website www.abf.gov.au or engage Magellan Logistics to co-ordinate seamless transportation of your goods.

Get in touch today.

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