Container Shipping to or from Australia
Are you looking to ship containers to or from Australia? Here we pull together all the information you’ll need to get started shipping with ease.Get started
Relevant shipping information
- Is Australia more of an import or export country?
When it comes to container freight, Australia is predominantly an import country – with China and the United States among its key partners. However, the country also sees substantial seasonal export trends. Twill, offers first class ocean and inland transportation to import and export markets.
When importing containers to Australia, it is important to check for any seasonal importing and quarantine requirements prior to booking your cargo shipment.
- How are my containers getting from port to door or to the port in Australia?
Australia is a vast country, with one of the lowest population densities in the world. The majority of residents live in the eastern mainland states like New South Wales, Victoria and Australian Capital Territory – with large parts of the country between major cities being fairly unpopulated.
As a result, the two most common modes of transportation are road and rail-road. The use of trucking is common in metropolitan areas and for rural deliveries from/to port from door.
Rail-road is a more common option for longer distances – with the long stretches across Australia’s semi-arid desert geography tackled by rail, and the final movements to or from door tackled by truck.
- What is the estimated transit time for shipping a container to or from Australia?
The transit time for your cargo will vary based on a few factors – including the vessel schedule, whether containers need to be connected to other vessels on their journey and how many calling ports there are on the route.
Twill, supercharged by Maersk, offers market-leading transit times for Australia from all its key markets – from China and United States, to Germany and Japan – and many more destinations. Here are a few transit times for popular routes to Australia on average:
China to Australia: 35 days
Trans-Tasman: 5 days
Europe to Australia: 50-60 days
India to Australia: 35 days
North America to Australia: 45 days
Our strong transit times ensure you keep your lead times to a minimum while being able to keep cargo moving at a good pace.
- Which peak seasons are important for logistics in Australia?
Australia benefits from a stable and growing import/export market throughout the year. However, there are some key busy periods to note.
With China being both a major import and export partner, the Golden Week celebrations in October can affect shipping demand to or from Australia.
Alongside this, the Lunar New Year, or Chinese New Year, is celebrated in China and some other South/North Asian countries – which also has significant impacts on shipping demand and production schedules for Australia.
- Do I need insurance to ship containers from or to Australia?
Insurance is not essential to ship to Australia, but it is recommended – and you should review whether this is something you need based on the Incoterms you have agreed with your supplier.
With each Incoterm chosen, the risk associated with your purchase moves at a specific point in the shipping process. If you chose to work with DAP (Delivered at Place) terms, for example, then the Seller bears all Risk until the Buyer receives the goods at their destination. If you chose FOB (Free On Board) terms the Risk moves to the Buyer at the point it loads on the vessel at Origin.
You should always ensure you read the fine print to ensure insurance coverage meets your needs, with policies varying on commodities, routes and value. Only specific policies cover delays, while most do not. Other policies cover you only for General Average Contribution, which are the costs associated with loss or damage to a ship or its cargo, with costs shared between the owners of the ship and owners of the cargo on board.
As we are supercharged by industry leader Maersk, this means that other liability regulations are involved compared to a transport with a forwarding agency. You can find out more here.
If you’re shipping your cargo across the sea, you want to know that you won’t lose money if your cargo is damaged or lost. This is why Twill offers Value Protect, giving you peace of mind that your cargo is protected during the transportation with us.
- How is Customs Clearance handled in Australia?
Customs clearance procedures are an important step in your cargo’s journey, and you will need to follow them to import your containers into Australia.
The key step of customs clearance is to have the right paperwork. In Australia, as in many other countries, you are likely to need these documents:
Signed Letter of Authorisation
Bill of Lading
If you’re unsure of what these documents are, have a read of our guide on all the key documents you need when shipping cargo. The customs authorities may require additional information beyond these, but we will let you about these if needed!
Generally, all goods imported into Australia are liable for duties or taxes – but there are exemptions. Our customs clearance experts help shippers both new and experienced understand the duties they have to pay, or the exemptions they may be entitled to, helping make the import process smooth and easy. Find out more about our Customs Clearance services here.
- What are the most popular trade lanes in Australia?
The most popular trade routes for Australia are largely within the APAC region. For import routes, the popular routes are from China, South East Asia and India.
On the export side, the most popular routes are to South East Asia, India and the Trans-Tasman route, which represents the lane between Australia and New Zealand. Some of the most shipped commodities to and from Australia are:
Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG)
All of these lanes and commodities are covered within the Twill platform – with a view of pricing and cost breakdown available prior to booking.
- What are the main ports in Australia?
There are five main ports in Australia – largely found near the country’s biggest cities:
Port of Brisbane – Located on a reclaimed artificial island, it is the third busiest port in Australia and the fastest-growing container port.
Sydney Harbour – Found in Australia’s busiest waterway and one of the most beautiful natural harbours – Sydney’s port has operated for over 100 years, providing a vital supply route for the city’s growth.
Port of Melbourne – The Port of Melbourne is the largest port for containerised and general cargo in Australia.
Port Adelaide – This port is the main maritime gateway for South Australia – handling a range of inbound and outbound cargoes.
Fremantle Harbour – Western Australia’s largest and busiest general cargo port – Fremantle Harbour handles a large volume of sea containers, vehicle and livestock imports.
Services to make shipping easier
Whether you're shipping from door-to-door or want to protect your cargo, we've got just the right service for you.
Inland transportation is a key partner to ocean freight and with Twill, you get access to a range of quality intermodal services inland transport services whether rail, barge or truck transport. Find the right continental and intercontinental transport mode for your cargo, and let us handle the rest.
With sea shipping services from over 300 ports, Twill enables small and medium-sized businesses to grow, by simplifying their ocean shipping and sea freight logistics. We are here to connect your business globally, whether shipping your cargo on the same continent or handling international freight shipping around the world.