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In 2020 alone, Australians and Australian companies imported over $19.9 billion AUD worth of Japanese goods into the country, making it one of our main trading partners.¹ If your business is looking at importing goods from Japan you’ll need to know how to get them to Australia.
In this article we’ll let you know a bit about shipping goods to Australia from Japan including the different transportation methods, potential costs and approximate time frames. We’ll also give you some tips for how Wise can help make doing business overseas that little bit cheaper.
|💸 Looking for a stress-free international business account to pay abroad like a local? With multiple cards, AUD and foreign currency account details?|
Australia and Japan are both islands so they each rely on sea and air transportation to bring goods into the country. Which transport method you choose to use will depend on many factors including the size and quantity of goods being sent, your preferred delivery time and your budget.
Air cargo is the fastest way to ship goods internationally, especially if you’ve chosen an express shipment option. The cost for air cargo services is dependent on several considerations including the size of the shipment, the overall weight, type of goods and delivery location within Australia.
Air cargo is split into two categories.²
- General cargo
- Special cargo
General cargo doesn’t have any special requirements for it to be transported aboard an aircraft.² Here’s some examples of what’s often considered general cargo.
- Books and manga
If you’re only sending general cargo to Australia you could look at using Japan Post, a courier, a logistics company or a freight forwarder to handle the transportation.
Some items, known as special goods, have specific handling, documentation or safety requirements to be allowed on an aircraft.² Here’s a few examples.
- Dangerous goods
- Live animals
- Wet cargo
- Time and temperature sensitive goods (e.g. frozen foods)
If you’re buying Japanese electronics for import it’s a good idea to check if they have components such as lithium batteries which can make them special cargo.
When looking for a company to transport your goods you’ll need to keep in mind that not all carriers are willing or able to manage special cargo. You’re more likely to have success with a logistics company, freight forwarder or transport company that specialises in special cargo.
Sea freight is a slower but generally cheaper option, especially when you’re dealing with large or heavy shipments.
For shipments ranging from packages to pallets, you may be best speaking to Japan Post, a courier or a logistics company. If you’re transporting partial or full sea container loads then a shipping agent or freight forwarder might be more suitable.
There are many Japanese and international companies that can organise to ship your goods from Japan to Australia. Here’s a few names to get you started.
Package to Pallet Sized Shipping
- Japan Post
Sea Freight Shipping Agencies
- Ocean Network Express (ONE)
- Hapag Lloyd
- CMA CGM Japan
- NYK Line
- Tokyo Freight Services
- Trico Japan
- ANA Cargo
As we mentioned, the cost of shipping goods from Japan to Australia varies due to a number of factors. Here’s a few of them.
- Size and shape of goods
- General cargo or special cargo
- Air or sea freight
- Express or standard
- Cargo insurance (if needed)
- World events and the economy
As an example, here’s what it can cost to airmail goods from Tokyo to Sydney using FedEx.³
|FedEx International Economy (50kg)||¥106,136 – approx A$1,137|
|FedEx International Priority Express (50kg)||¥173,734 – approx A$1,861|
|FedEx International Economy (250kg)||¥314,062 – approx A$3,364|
|FedEx International Priority Express (250kg)||¥940,544 – approx A$10,076|
|FedEx International Economy (1000kg)||¥1,027,982 – approx A$11,015|
|FedEx International Priority Express (1000kg)||¥1,063,982 – approx A$11,401|
As you can see air cargo gets quite expensive when you’re shipping larger volumes, weights or quantities of goods. If you want to see what sea freight would cost in comparison, it’s best to contact a company in the industry who can provide you with a personalised quote.
When importing goods into Australia, shipping isn’t the only cost to think about. There are certain fees, duties and charges which may apply, depending on your shipment.⁴
- Australian Government Standard Tax (GST)
- Australian Customs duties
- Import processing fees
- Excise taxes
Something else to keep in mind is that you may need to pay for the goods or shipping costs in Japanese Yen (JPY). Converting AUD to JPY can be an expensive exercise depending on the additional fees, exchange rates and exchange rate margin your bank has. This is where Wise comes in handy.
When you send money abroad with Wise your AUD is exchanged for JPY using the real exchange rate and there are no hidden fees. It can work out to being up to 6x cheaper than traditional banks and 19x cheaper than PayPal.
When you organise the shipping and importation of the goods into Australia you’ll need to provide certain documentation. What you’ll need depends on the type of goods, but could include some of the following.⁵
- Customs Entry or Informal Clearance Document
- Air Waybill or Bill of Lading
- Import permit
- The consignors details
- Invoice with the value of the goods
Australia does have rules about what can and can not enter the country, generally based on safety or biosecurity concerns. It’s your responsibility to check if the goods you’re shipping from Japan are allowed to enter Australia.
Certain goods are listed as restricted and you do have to obtain an import permit before you can ship them.
Here’s a general idea of how long it takes to ship goods from Tokyo, Japan, to Sydney, Australia.
|Shipping Method||Approximate Time Frame|
|Sea Freight⁶||29-39 days|
- Japan has a few major holidays including Golden Week and Obon Week. Public holidays can interrupt business so keep them in mind.
- Japanese is the official language in Japan so you may need to use a translation service or interpreter to manage the language difference.
As well as enabling you to send money overseas at the real exchange rate, Wise also offers a multi currency account specifically for businesses.
With a Wise Business account you can hold and convert 53 currencies in a single account. For 10 of those currencies you can get local account details to use as well. There are no monthly account fees to worry about and you can manage your conversions online or through the app.
For convenient spending, the account can be attached to a Wise debit card which automatically takes care of currency conversions for you. You can use it to make payments overseas and can order additional business debit cards for any staff you feel need them.
Paying your suppliers or for shipping is also pretty easy. The Wise Business account enables you to pay invoices in the local currency, sending funds to the recipient's bank or Wise account.
To learn more about Wise why not create a Business account for yourself - it’s free and can be done in minutes.
- Australian Government - Japan country brief
- IATA - What Types of Cargo are Transported by Air
- DHL - Get a Quote
- Australian Border Force - Cost of importing goods
- International Trade Administration - Import Requirements and Documentation
- Hapag-Lloyd - Interactive Schedule
Sources checked on: 8 July 2022
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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