Shipping From the USA To Australia. The process, costs and time.

Roberto Efflandrin

In the first four months of 2022 over 9 billion USD worth of goods were exported from the US to Australia¹. With so many different products and suppliers available in the US, you may be wondering how you go about shipping goods for your business to Australia.

In this article we’ll take a look at what there is to know about shipping goods from the US including the general process, some of the costs and how long it might take. We’ll also give you an insight into how Wise can help make doing business overseas a little cheaper.

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What are the shipping methods from the US to Australia?

When shipping goods to Australia you’ll need to choose whether you want to use air or sea transport. The option you go for will depend on the size and amount of goods being shipped, as well as your time frame for delivery.

Shipping by Air from the US to Australia

Air cargo is the fastest way to ship goods to Australia, especially if you upgrade to an express shipment. In general, the type of goods and the size of the shipment play a big part in how it is transported as well as the cost.

There are two types of air cargo.²

  • General cargo
  • Special cargo

Shipping General Cargo by Air from the US to Australia

General cargo are items that don’t require any special precautions or handling to be safe for transport aboard an aircraft.² This could include some of the following goods.

  • Dry goods
  • Textiles
  • Homewares
  • Hand tools
  • Mechanical parts

To organise the shipment of general cargo you could use a courier, logistics company, postal service or freight forwarder.

Shipping Special Cargo by Air from the US to Australia

Special cargo shipments have specific requirements which need to be met in order for the goods to be transported.² This could include having additional safety measures, specific handling processes or special documentation requirements. Here’s an idea of some of the goods that fall into the special cargo category.

  • Dangerous goods
  • Live animals
  • Wet cargo
  • Time sensitive goods
  • Temperature sensitive goods

Keep in mind that many everyday items can fall into the category of special cargo, including adhesives, nail polish, loose batteries and lithium powered devices.

The type of special goods you have will determine which air cargo services you can use. Postal services and couriers will not ship some special goods, so you may need to engage a logistics company or freight forwarder to assist you. Also, if you’re shipping specialty items such as live animals or frozen food, you might want to engage a company with experience in that area.

Shipping by Sea from the US to Australia

Sea freight from the US to Australia is slower than air cargo but is generally a more economical option if you’re shipping large quantities.

The type of company that you’d employ to handle your sea freight generally depends on the size of the shipment. If you’re only sending a few boxes or pallets then a postal service or logistics company might make more sense. If you’re shipping entire sea containers, a freight forwarder or shipping agent is likely to be the better option.


Some popular shipping companies from the US to Australia

There are many companies out there who’ll help ship your goods from the US to Australia. Here’s a few of the larger companies to get you started.

Package to Pallet Sized Shipping

  • DHL
  • FedEx
  • UPS

Sea Freight Shipping Agencies

  • Maersk
  • Hapag-Lloyd

Freight Forwarders

  • C.H. Robinson
  • American President Lines
  • Expeditors

What are the typical costs of shipping goods from the US to Australia

There are many factors that influence the cost of shipping goods from the US to Australia.

  • Size and shape
  • Weight
  • General cargo or special cargo
  • Air or sea freight
  • Express or standard
  • Cargo insurance (if needed)

As an example, here’s what it can cost to airmail goods from New York to Sydney using FedEx.³

FedEx International Economy (50kg)$1912.45 USD
FedEx International Priority Express (50kg)$3,077.90 USD
FedEx International Economy (250kg)$14,871.44 USD
FedEx International Priority Express (250kg)$15,311.36 USD
FedEx International Economy (1000kg)$35,624.74 USD
FedEx International Priority Express (1000kg)$56,600.46 USD

As you can see air cargo can get very expensive when you’re sending large weight/volumes or quantities of items. It’s best to contact a sea or air freight agency or freight forwarder to get a personalised price offer.

What are the import duties, fees to know about

Aside from the cost of shipping, there are some other fees or duties you may need to pay to import your goods from the US to Australia.⁴

  • Australian Government Standard Tax (GST)
  • Australian Customs duties
  • Import processing fees

Another thing to keep in mind is that you may need to exchange AUD for USD to pay for the goods, shipping costs or some of the fees. The costs associated with this can add up, especially if your bank charges a mark up on the exchange rate or a fee for international transfers.

With Wise there are no hidden fees and your money is exchanged at the real exchange rate, just like you see on Google. It can end up being 6x cheaper than the old–school banks or 19x cheaper than PayPal.

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What documentation is required

When importing goods into Australia you may be required to provide some of the following documentation depending on what you’re shipping and how.⁵

  • Customs Entry or Informal Clearance Document
  • Air Waybill
  • Bill of Lading
  • Import permit
  • Invoice with the consignors details and value of the goods

Are there any shipping restrictions into Australia from the US?

Australia does place some restrictions on what can be imported from the US, generally based on safety or biosecurity concerns.

Some restricted goods require you to obtain an import permit for Australia to be allowed to bring them into the country.

How long does shipping take from the US to Australia?

Here’s a general idea of how long it can take to transport goods from New York, US, to Sydney, Australia.

Shipping MethodApproximate Time Frame
Express Airmail³6 days
Standard Airmail³9 days
Sea Freight⁶60 days

Wise - Paying internationally the right way

If you’re importing goods and doing business internationally then finding a trustworthy foreign currency exchange service is an important consideration. Wise is a secure online financial provider that specialises in sending money across borders.

With a Wise Business account you can convert and hold over 50 currencies in a single account. There’s no monthly account fees and like we mentioned earlier, your money is converted at the real exchange rate. For 10 of the supported currencies, including AUD, USD, EUR and GBP, you can order local account details making it easier to do business in those regions.

Paying your international supplier’s invoices can also be made easy. They don’t need to have a Wise account of their own and can simply receive the funds into their local bank account.

As an added bonus the Wise Business account can be attached to a Wise debit card. This card handles exchanges automatically making daily spending in foreign currencies simple. The account also has integrated business tools including batch payments and accounting integration options.

To see how a Wise Business account could benefit you, take a look for yourself - creating an account can be done in minutes.

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  1. United States Census Bureau - Trade in Goods with Australia
  2. IATA - What Types of Cargo are Transported by Air
  3. FedEx - Ship, manage, track, deliver
  4. Australian Border Force - Cost of importing goods
  5. International Trade Administration - Import Requirements and Documentation
  6. Hapag-Lloyd - Interactive Schedule

Sources checked on: 29 June 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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