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Why is Shipping from USA to Australia So Expensive?

Australia is currently the tenth largest eCommerce market in the world by revenue. If you aren’t already offering and shipping your products to Australian customers, then as an eCommerce entrepreneur you are missing out on increased opportunities.

Since Australia is a remote country, air and sea shipments tend to be very expensive and usually take some time. With more rules and regulations in place than many other countries, shipping to Australia from the US can be time-consuming, error-prone, and costly — especially if your business is small to mid-sized.

Australia is one of the top ex-pat destinations in the world and with good reason. Brilliant sunshine, bustling cities, and golden beaches await. There is no reason why shipping your belongings to Australia can’t be easy.

While shipping by air is usually faster, it is also more expensive than by sea. Scheduling your move properly goes a long way. Door-to-door shipping is a standard in international freight, and it is the most convenient option for a large move abroad, especially to a country as large as Australia.

Key Reasons Why Shipping from the USA to Australia Is So Expensive

People looking to ship products or goods from the USA to Australia are constantly complaining about the high price involved. Rightfully, you are paying 4 times more than your overseas counterparts for the same size of the product even though the Australian dollar holds parity with the American dollar. Here are few reasons why it is so expensive to ship from the USA to Australia.

  1. Australia’s Location

Since Australia is geographically isolated, import and shipping costs tend to be higher and more expensive due to the limited means available. Since Australia is a remote country, air and sea shipments tend to be the only route and usually take some time. The lack of choice can be attributed as one of the key reasons why shipping to Australia can be quite expensive.

  1. Australian Customs

Like anywhere else, Australia has its own quirks when it comes to customs. With quite a self-contained ecosystem to protect, they can be a little precious about animals, plant life, and food products. Doomsday viruses are probably best left at home, and any pets will need to go through quarantine. Otherwise, it is the standard fare of packing sensibly and declaring items through the proper channels – in this case, the Australian Border Force.

Customs and handling time can also take up to a few weeks, so you still have to ensure you ship with more than enough leeway time. Make sure you understand any tariff codes before you send a package to Australia so your shipment has the proper documentation and doesn’t get held up at customs.

  1. Long Shipping Times

Australia is a remote country that has no land borders with other countries. Because of this, all packages have to be sent via air or sea shipping and this can take time. On average, package deliveries to Australia from the USA can take anywhere from 7 to 10 days if you aren’t using expedited shipping options.

It is crucial to communicate these long transit times to Australian customers so they know that they might have to wait a little longer than usual. Shipping to Australia from the USA can take up to a few weeks depending on the class of shipment. Because all packages are shipped via air or sea, there can be additional delays due to weather and natural disasters.

Factors to Consider When Shipping From the USA to Australia

Shipping your things to Australia should be straightforward. You can send them by sea or by air. Obviously, the land is not an option. Not to worry, though. In the world of shipping, a ‘sea-locked’ country is an accessible country. While shipping by air is usually faster, it is also more expensive than by sea. Here are few factors to remember when shipping to Australia.

  1. Find A Reputable International Moving Company

Choosing a reputable shipping company is without doubts the way to go – especially when your products or things are being sent halfway around the world – you want someone you can trust! Keep an eye out for your movers (or removalists, as movers are called in Australia) accreditations.

Remember to go with a company with the FAIM logo; the highest quality assurance standard recognized internationally. Routine audits are performed to ensure quality standards are upheld.

FIDI is another; an internationally recognized organization that accredits movers around the world to work together. It simply means a Miami based company can liaise with an Australian based company to ensure moves are carried out with full teams and proper equipment in both countries.

  1. Length Of Transport

Note that this will depend on where in the United States you are moving from! For instance, if you are sending a full dedicated container this can take between 6 to 8 weeks to arrive in Sydney, while the more cost effective method of a shared container can take anywhere between 10 to 12 weeks. Consult international moving experts for exact time frames.

  1. Australian Quarantine And Customs

Note that you should avoid packing items that will be confiscated, or hold up your goods in quarantine unnecessarily. This means those small items of food, animal, and plant materials finding their way into your vacuum, lawnmower, or even garden tools.

Australia strives very hard to keep its unique environment and agricultural industries free from pests. The Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) carries out a high level of physical inspection on incoming personal and household goods. When shipping your goods to Australia, it is not advisable to include foodstuffs in your container.

As mentioned, try and remove any traces of soil or other foreign matter from items such as vacuum cleaners, lawnmowers, golf clubs, garden tools, wheelbarrows, etc. prior to the big move. However, if you desperately need to move these types of items with you to Sydney, they will need to be declared for inspection on arrival to Australia. Some products may require treatment to make them safe.

  1. Goods To Be Declared

Among the list of items that are expected to be declared when you are packing your goods up are:

  1. Seeds and nuts – commercially packaged seeds, seed ornaments, nuts out of shell such as salted nuts, in foil, or roasted.
  2. Plant products – straw packaging, wooden articles, artifacts, handicrafts, and curios – include wreaths and decorations made of cereal or grain.
  3. Animal products – includes any items made with rawhide, such as drums, shields, artifacts, dog chews; and any treated skins, hides, furs, hair, or feathers.
  4. Dried fruit and vegetables
  5. Herbs and spices of any kind – includes herbal medicines and remedies, tonics, teas
  6. Biscuits, cakes, and confectionery – includes chocolate, sweets, crisps, nuts, pretzels
  7. Noodles and rice – includes processed and instant meals
  8. Teas, coffees, and milk based drinks
  9. Bamboo, cane, or rattan basket ware and mats – including coconut carvings, cane baskets
  10. Wooden articles – includes painted and lacquered items
  11. Fresh flowers and leis & dried flower arrangements

Best US Carriers Who Ship To Australia

Have it in mind there are plenty of carriers that can ship to Australia from the US. However, these companies mentioned below are reliable and can get your packages delivered to Australia within a few days. They have partnerships with many companies that can help reduce shipping costs and they have resources in place to help you with customs, taxes, freight, and other paperwork. These carriers are;

  1. DHL

DHL is the major carrier for international shipping and an ideal option for shipping to Australia. They have competitive rates compared to UPS or FedEx while offering the same delivery timeframes. If you want to ship to Australia, then you should consider DHL as one of your first options when checking shipping prices. Depending on what packages or products you are shipping, there might be extra fees, so keep that in mind when considering DHL.

  1. UPS and FedEx

UPS and FedEx are also wonderful options for shipping to Australia because they can get your packages delivered quickly and reliably. With guaranteed delivery times, you can be rest assured that your packages should get delivered on time and customers will be happy too. Unlike USPS, every package is tracked from pickup to delivery through the UPS and FedEx tracking systems.

You won’t have to bothered about any packages being transferred to Australia Post because they are in the possession of UPS or FedEx the entire time and don’t have to change custody. Take note that UPS and FedEx can be more expensive options if you are sending packages that are over 10 pounds.

  1. USPS

USPS is another good option if quick delivery times aren’t a huge priority, and you want the cheapest shipping option. Unlike the other carriers, you will only have to pay a flat rate depending on the USPS mail type and package weight. Package drop-off is simple because you can drop off packages at your mailbox or visit a local post office.

However, one major disadvantage with using USPS for Australian shipping is that the packages are transferred to Australia Post (the national Australian mailing service) once they arrive in Australia. This means the order tracking number provided by USPS will no longer work and you must wait for a new tracking number. This also adds on a few extra delivery days due to the transfer process.


The Australia–United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) is similar to NAFTA, meaning the US and Australia have a free trade agreement that allows for easy trade between the two countries. It simply means you won’t be subject to high tariffs when compared to other international countries. Tariffs can change occasionally, but for the most part, shipping to Australia for your US-based business won’t break the bank.