All Things Shipping | Aug 09, 2022

Shipping to Australia from the USA: Rules, Costs, and Options

Sarah Rickerd

While it may seem too far away, shipping to Australia from the U.S. is much more common than you think. When shipping internationally from the U.S., the land down under is one of the top five countries to ship to year-over-year. Why, you may ask?

Australia ranks eleventh worldwide for e-commerce sales, which are expected to reach 32.3 billion by 2024. Additionally, online sales make up nearly 10% of all retail trade in Australia. For these reasons, if you run an online business, offering to ship to Australia is a great way to increase your revenue and reach.

Though international shipping might seem daunting, it’s simpler than you think. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about shipping to Australia.

Rules to Know Before Shipping to Australia

Australia has strict rules and regulations surrounding what can be shipped into the country. In particular, they strictly prohibit the import of any goods that pose a threat to public safety. They will also reject the import of agricultural products that could introduce new pests.

As an example, Australia’s customs department protects the country’s agricultural industry and natural habitat by upholding strict quarantine requirements. These quarantine requirements apply to:

  • Agricultural products
  • Animals
  • Mining & construction machinery
  • Certain packaged foods

Machinery, especially used machinery, is heavily regulated in Australia; as a result, a special import permit must be obtained before customs will allow the shipment to clear. The Australian government may also enforce seasonal biosecurity measures from time to time. Here is a complete list of items that must comply with Australia’s quarantine standards.

Even when shipments pass quarantine, certain imports are restricted when shipping to Australia from the U.S. These shipments will likely need to be accompanied by special paperwork for Australian customs to accept them. These special restrictions include:

  • Drugs & steroids
  • Weapons/firearms
  • Plants & animals
  • Protected wildlife

Tariffs, Taxes, and Fees When Shipping to Australia

Even though 99% of U.S. shipments pass into Australia with no duty fees, taxes often apply. Luckily, U.S. shipments receive special treatment in Australia due to the Australia Free Trade Agreement (AUFTA). This agreement states that all AUFTA goods shipping to Australia from the U.S. are duty-free.

Goods and Services Tax (GST)

The most common type of tax that applies to Australian shipments is called the Goods and Services Tax, or GST. Low-value imports, which cost $1,000 or less, are charged a GST on the customs value, which is the cost of the goods, not including freight or insurance. The GST on these low-value imports is 10%.

Here are a few examples of GST-free imports in Australia:

  • Food & beverages
  • Certain medical services, aids, and appliances
  • Educational materials and courses
  • Cars/car parts for disabled veterans and disabled people who are gainfully employed
  • All low-value imports shipping to GST-registered Australian businesses

As the shipper, you’ll need to collect any applicable GST from your customer and forward it to the Australian Taxation Office.

Other Taxes

Australia shipping requires two types of tax besides GST: the Luxury Car Tax and the Wine Equalization Tax. These taxes are paid on all imported luxury vehicles and wines that do not qualify for an exemption.

How to Sell to Customers in Australia

Selling to customers in Australia is as simple as marketing your products on one of the country’s popular platforms and advertising to potential customers. According to Australia’s International Trade Administration, over 40% of e-commerce transactions occur on eBay, Amazon, and Gumtree. The other 60% of internet sales are completed on the respective company’s website.

Since a measurable portion of online sales happens on eBay, Amazon, and Gumtree, it’s a good idea to list products on these marketplaces. Of these three, eBay is the most popular, capturing about 69 million Australian visits per month.

Remember: competitive pricing, well-written descriptions, and high-quality photos from several angles are vital for online sales. Running advertisements on social media apps like Facebook and Instagram can also be an easy ways to get the word out about your products.

Cheapest Way to Ship to Australia

One survey showed that 27% of Australian consumers might avoid online shopping to save on shipping costs. However, 42% of those same consumers preferred to shop online for convenience. As a result, minimizing shipping costs may help you reach a larger audience.

Shipping platforms like Shippo can help merchants in the U.S. reach Australian customers for less by offering UPS International services for up to 86% off retail rates as well as 64% off of DHL International Express shipping.

However, it’s also important to keep in mind that the cheapest shipping option isn’t always the right choice. Much of the time, when you choose low-cost shipping options to save money, the transit time is longer. Customers who want a quick turnaround on their orders are usually willing to pay the extra money to get it faster.

Carrier Services for Shipping to Australia and International Shipping

The best way to ship to Australia is by working with a reputable US based-carrier and/or one that works with Australian-based carriers. When comparing major international carriers like UPS, FedEx, DHL, and USPS, you’ll see that all of them are reputable options. Although, the transit times and rates for shipping internationally differ.

The following are some of the best carrier services for shipping to Australia, as well as estimated rates for shipping a 1lb package from the U.S.

UPS® Shipping to Australia

UPS international shipping is a great option, as this carrier service delivers more packages to more destinations than any service. And, since the package never leaves UPS’s possession, you’re more likely to avoid delays and keep your customers’ satisfaction high.

Service Transit Time
UPS Worldwide Expedited® 2-5 business days
UPS Worldwide Saver® 6-10 business days
UPS Standard® Varies by exact location

In the case of UPS, shipping a 1lb package measuring 4” x 2” x 1” (using your own packaging) from New York’s 10001 zip code to Sydney’s 2000 postal code using the UPS Worldwide Expedited® service will run you $136.94 at the carrier’s current retail rates. That same package delivered using a UPS shipping label from Shippo would cost roughly $40.40. In this scenario, UPS is the most cost-effective carrier for shipping to Australia from the U.S.

FedEx Shipping to Australia

FedEx offers easy-to-use tools that make shipping to Australia from the U.S. easy. They also offer a program called FedEx International Shipping Assist which is designed to help you with international shipping forms.

Service Transit Time
FedEx International Priority® 3-5 business days
FedEx International Economy® 3-6 business days

 Continuing with the example above, shipping a parcel of the same size and weight will cost you $169.23 for International Priority (or $158.66 for International Economy).

DHL Shipping to Australia

When compared to other services, DHL can offer shorter transit times for less money. They’re a globally recognized international carrier, which means they have the know-how you need to ship to Australia.

Service Transit Time
Parcel International Express 3-6 business days
Parcel International Direct 3-10 business days
Parcel International Standard 8-14 business days

Compared to the retail estimates from UPS and FedEx, DHL comes out ahead in our hypothetical package shipping example. Here, the carrier’s retail rate for the delivery is just $112.91 through its Express service. Shippo users can access up to 63% off DHL Express, which could result in an even more cost-effective solution.

USPS Shipping to Australia

Despite the savings you might see with DHL, if you’re looking for one of the more cost-effective postal rates when shipping to Australia, USPS is likely your best bet. With USPS, packages are transferred to the Australia Post once they arrive in Australia, which could cause delivery delays and require customers to wait for a new tracking number. 

Service Transit Time
USPS Priority Mail Express® 3-5 business days
USPS Priority Mail International® 6-10 business days
USPS First-Class Package International Service® 11-20 business days

Crunching the numbers one final time reveals some of the lowest retail rates yet. The retail rate for our sample shipment via USPS Priority Mail Express International® comes in at $74.50, while the rate for USPS Priority Mail International® is just $57.85. Using Shippo’s discounted USPS labels, those costs would be $71.96 and $54.96, respectively.

It should be noted that depending on where exactly you ship from the U.S. and where you ship to in Australia, the most cost-effective shipping service could differ by carrier. It’s important to always compare before shipping out to international countries since pricing levels could vary drastically.

Shipping to Australia from the U.S. can help you expand your business to a new market. If you want to tap into a proven e-commerce market, there’s no better time than the present to start shipping to Australia.

Sarah Rickerd is a Michigan-based freelance writer covering business, marketing, and technology topics. She is also the owner of Content Conquered, a B2B-focused content marketing consultancy.

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