When importing goods from China to Australia there are some key parts to the process which must run smoothly to avoid potential delays. Below we will note some key issues that are faced which must be managed correctly to avoid costly delays.
EXPORT PACKING / CONTAINER LOADING / DELIVERY TO PORT OF EXPORT
When the manufacturer has finished the production of goods, you must still allow sufficient time for the container to be packed, delivered to the port and loaded onto the vessel. You must allow enough time for any 3rd party quality control inspections, for packing the goods into required packaging or strong export packaging, for balance payments to be cleared, then for the goods to be packed inside the shipping container at the factory. When the truck has picked up the shipping container from the factory, it may still be a 100-200km+ journey to deliver the container to the port of export. On top of that it can take a few days for the container to be cleared through export customs procedures and placed into the correct holding yard waiting to be loading onto the incoming vessels. So although a factory may give a production lead time of 25 days, you must allow up to an extra week on top of that by the time that the vessel actually departs the port of export. Shipping schedules will state an estimated time of departure (ETD), which can easily be pushed back due to a number of uncontrolled events. Common delays are caused by port congestion, where container ports become overloaded which forces shipping vessels to wait outside the port before they can come in to dock, or severe weather events which will affect where the shipping vessels can actually travel or leave port.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO SHIP GOODS FROM CHINA TO AUSTRALIA?
Seafreight leadtimes vary depending on the port of export, port of delivery, and the number of ports which the vessel must dock at on the way to Australia. When importing goods from China to Australia, most shipping lines start from the top of China (Beijing/Tianjin port) and work their way down through major ports of Qingdao, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong in the South. If you have a shipment leaving from the South of China and the vessel sails directly to Australian main ports of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, the time on the water is usually only around 2 weeks. If it is sailing from the North of China it may take an extra week on top of this.
VESSEL ARRIVAL INTO PORT, CUSTOMS CLEARANCE PROCEDURES, LOCAL STEVEDORAGE AND TRUCKING
It is important that the Australian Customs Clearance process is cleared before the vessel actually arrives into port to avoid the container being held at the port. When the vessel docks, the containers are unloaded and put into a holding yard pending final customs clearance approvals and paperwork. When the containers are cleared for delivery, sideloader trucks are constantly picking up containers from the port and delivering them to their final destinations. In some cases there can be a huge stack of containers to be delivered, so the trucks will accept whichever container is taken off the stack first. If a container is buried at the bottom of a huge stack, it will be the last of the containers to be delivered. Some port handling, steverdorage and customs clearance processes are more efficient at some ports compared to others. If this process is handled quickly and efficiently, containers can be unloaded from the vessel and delivered to your door within 2-3 days.
When a container is released from the port there is a set number of days allowed before that container must be delivered back to the port. These shipping containers are constantly being shipped around the world and are required back at the port to be cleaned and then loaded with new goods for it’s next export journey. The time allowed is usually between 5-7 days. If the container is not delivered back within that time then demurrage is charged by the day. When containers arrive at your door it’s best to get them unloaded as soon as you can so that a truck can pick the container up and take it back to the port within only a few days.