The beginners guide to shipping to Australia

Australia may be on the other side of the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s unreachable. ParcelCompare knows that there are more people than ever shipping down under, and we wanted to take the mystery out of the process. Clothes, care packages and personal goods are among ParcelCompare’s most common shipments to Australia, so we’ve put together this guide to take the mystery out of making sure your goods arrive in Australia safely.

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Is it going to cost me anything to clear customs?

Despite a reputation for toughness that we’ll cover later, Australian customs regulations are very generous when it comes to the application of duties and fees when clearing parcels into the country. So generous in fact, that most parcels that enter the country will do so free of taxes or customs duties – making shipping to Australia slightly more affordable. Clearing customs is a complex process, but ParcelCompare does everything possible to make it easier.

The basics are simple: if your shipment is worth less than 1,000 Australian Dollars, then you should not need to pay duties or customs fees. Your parcel will be cleared relatively quickly.

If your shipment is worth more than AU$1,000, your package will be cleared through Formal Clearance. This takes longer than normal clearance, and it is during this process that customs duties and fees will be applied to your package.

In either case, you will need to include fully completed customs paperwork with your package. This should include the name of the shipper and receiver, along with a description of the goods in the parcel and their value. When shipping with ParcelCompare, we simplify this process by generating all the paperwork you will need for you.

Is there anything I am not allowed to bring into Australia?

It’s important to note that, because Australia is an island nation, Australian Customs are notoriously stringent. The rules and regulations for clearing goods into Australia are more extensive than many other destinations. For example, all biological goods are restricted, with many being entirely prohibited. This means that you cannot ship plants and seeds, but also means that wooden goods are not allowed, and you can’t ship with pallets unless you send it with a fumigation certificate.

Cardboard boxes that have previously held fruit are also prohibited, and may lead to your package being quarantined when it arrives into Australia. Some other unusual Australian restrictions include:

  • Egg cartons
  • Any shipment that is from, or travelled through, Somalia, Egypt or Bangladesh
  • Paintball guns and paintballs
  • Shipments that are multiple packages from multiple suppliers amalgamated into a single shipment
  • Milk – unless it is from New Zealand
  • Counterfeit goods of any types
  • Any pornographic materials

For more information on what you can and can’t send to Australia, visit the Australian Border Agency’s customs page.

What can’t I ship to Australia?

Now that you know what you can’t bring in to Australia, there’s another set of goods to think about; those you can’t send via courier. Because couriers carry thousands of parcels, they know exactly what are and aren’t safe to carry. You can see a full list of the goods that aren’t safe, which ParcelCompare prohibits sending of, at our Prohibited Items page. Here are some of the most important to get you started:

  • Aftershave
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Batteries containing liquid
  • Cash
  • Ink or Toner Cartridges
  • Money and negotiable items
  • Perfume, aftershave and other fragrances
  • Pornographic materials
  • White goods (Such as cookers/fridges/washing machines)

Are there specific rules for shipping food?

Are you shipping a care package? A Christmas hamper? Food is one of the most popular shipments around the world, and ParcelCompare has years of experience in ensuring that your tasty treats arrive safe and sound.

There are some key rules to keep in mind when shipping food – especially when it will be making a long journey, such as a trip to Australia. Besides making sure that the food you’re sending will not reach an expiration date within six months of shipping, you should also:

  • Send store-bought food, in its original packaging
  • Make sure that the food label lists all the ingredients
  • Check that it doesn’t include meat, dairy, seafood or alcohol
  • Unpack that homemade Christmas cake – nothing homemade can be shipped

And because Australia is particularly strict on what is allowed to clear customs, check that your parcel doesn’t include any of the below either. If they do, they risk being quarantined.

  • Popcorn Kernels
  • Plant-based decorations, like a wreath
  • Pine cones
  • Nuts
  • Wooden ornaments – or any other wood goods

How do I package the things I’m shipping?

It’s a long trip to Australia, and the key to making sure that your goods arrive safely is perfect packaging. Luckily, ParcelCompare is on your side. Here’s how to protect your items.

Use a brand-new cardboard box. Double corrugated is best, as it provides the most protection while taking up a minimum of space. Using second-hand boxes is especially risky when shipping to Australia, as they may be previously damaged, and run the risk of trouble when entering the country.

Wrap your goods in plentiful bubble wrap. This is the first line of defence for your goods.

Suspend your goods in packaging material like Styrofoam peanuts or compressed air. No part of your goods should be touching the walls of your box – if they are, your box may burst in transit. If you don’t use enough packaging material and your goods can rattle around the box when it moves, it risks being crushed on its way to Australia.

Support the seams and corners of your box with packaging tape. Don’t be stingy, as this can shore up the weakest parts of your box.

And – you guessed it – because of Australia’s strict border control, here are some packaging materials to be wary of when shipping down under.

  • Egg cartons
  • Wooden boxes
  • Cardboard boxes that have been used to hold fruit, vegetables or meat
  • Straw material
  • Dried plant material

These are all prohibited and run the risk of being quarantined upon arrival to Australia.

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