Saturday, June 19, 2010

Shipping bicycle stuff to Australia

Over the past few years I have gained some experience with shipping bicycle bits and bobs into Australia. For those new to the game this post may provide some useful information. Pretty dry reading I’m afraid.

Generally speaking most stuff from the US comes via UPS, FedEx, or USPS. UPS and FedEx are independent transport companies and their service extends from pickup to drop-off at the client’s designated address. They do everything including the customs brokerage and their charges are included in the freight fees. USPS (United States Postal Service) freight is delivered in Australia through Australia Post and you will have to do your own customs clearance if the goods are valued over AUD $1000.

FedEx seems to be the most expensive and appears to be the most hassle-free. They will automatically pay the customs duty & GST for you if the insured value of the item is over AUD $1000. This is efficient but it does have a number of downfalls.

  1. If you insure the item for more that what the item costs (say, for sentimental reasons, or replacement value on a rare item) then expect to pay the fee on the insured value.
  2. They automatically pay the customs duty even if the item is exempt of customs duty (for example if the item is wholly manufactured in the US then it should be free of customs duty based on the Australia-US free-trade agreement from Jan 2005).
  3. They may also pay for quarantine charges even if the item has never been used.

If you call FedEx to contend these charges then be prepared for a fight as they have already paid the fees and are trying to recover their costs.

In my experience UPS brokers have contacted me to confirm the fees due prior to payment & clearance of the goods. UPS final destination delivery is not as persistent as FedEx as the latter will turn up at the designated drop-off address until the item is delivered (within a reasonable period). Regardless of the carrier, make sure there is someone around to sign off on the goods.

All goods valued at AUD $1000 or more are subject to customs duty and GST. If the carrier does not have their own customs broker (appears to be the vast majority that transport from the UK & Europe and national carriers where the final transport is via Australia Post) then you will have to do the clearance yourself or arrange a customs broker to do the work for you.

In many cases you can present in person at the local branch of Australian Customs (located in all capital cities). Although this is a bit of a PITA you can resolve all issues at one sitting which is better than numerous phone calls. You can clear items that are delivered by carriers that do not offer a customs broker as part of their service and also all deliveries where the final leg is done via Australia Post.

The other way is via the internet and registering as a client in the Integrated Cargo System (ICS) Once you are registered then you can complete your own customs clearance with forms easily downloaded from the Australian Customs website. Customs clearance as a client in the ICS only applies to deliveries where the final leg is via Australia Post.

You can also clear items via the internet even if the final leg is through an independent carrier. But this is a right PITA in my experience. I've managed to do it a couple of times but all I can recall is the intense frustration of the whole ordeal.

If you do your own customs clearance (ICS or otherwise) then you should be aware that customs clearance has two parts.

1. Customs duty and GST

2. Quarantine.

Customs duty is calculated on the market value of the goods. If you are doing this yourself go to:

import export

customs tariff

working tariff page

schedule 3

chapter 87

goods 8714.9 (bicycles and accessories)

GST is 10% and calculated on the market value + transport costs + insurance costs.

Quarantine is required for all bicycles and parts that have been used. They may even inspect items that are designated NOS (new old stock). Quarantine costs are AUD $50-100.

Hope this helps.

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