Welcome to the Australian International Movers Association
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

FAQ's

1. General FAQ's

I have a quote for Groupage Service, what does this mean?

A groupage or shared container service is a mode of shipping whereby each shipper or customer shares the cost of shipping the container.  This form of shipping is completely legal to most international destinations and is commonly offered to customers with smaller sized shipments to popular overseas destinations. This form of shipping is generally slower than FCL (Full Container Load)  or LCL (Less than Container Load) and relies upon the removal company filling the container prior to shipping.  If you are in no hurry to receive your goods at the other end then this is a good option. If you are concerned about the transit time then you should discuss this with your AIMA agent and ask them for a option for FCL or LCL so you can make an informed decision.

How did my overseas removal company select the AIMA member?

The relationship between the overseas removal company who packed your shipment and the local AIMA member charged with the responsibility of acting as an agent to clear and deliver your shipment is a commercial arrangement. This arrangement is usually subject to standard international cooperation rules governed by international associations such as FIDI or IAM.

In order to be an AIMA member the local company must first demonstrate its competence to perform the process of international moving.  This includes financial soundness verification and audited quality systems to ensure the professional handling of your personal possessions.

Why do I need to provide a copy of my passport and identity documents?

AIMA members and indeed all Australian companies are subject to strict privacy and data protection laws. Passport and identity documents are submitted to Australian Border Force in order to substantiate the shipper’s identity and eligibility for customs duty and GST relief.

All AIMA members are aware of the sensitivity of personal identity documents and have robust systems in place to protect the integrity of your data.

2. Charges

What taxes can I expect to pay?

You can estimate the Duty and GST payable to Customs for importing a vehicle. Search for the vehicle on carsales.com.au and find a similar vehicle for sale (same year and kms).  Using the sale price of that vehicle take 50% as the approximate landed value of your vehicle.

Using this value add 5% Duty then 10% GST and this will give you the approximate Tax payable.  You will also have commercial customs lodgement fees applicable.

Eg:

Cars value = $55,000.00
50% = $27,500.00
Duty 5% = $1,375.00
GST 10% = $2,887.50
Total Tax = $4,262.50

For vehicles over $75,000 landed value you will also pay Luxury Car Tax at the rate of 33% on the amount above $75k.

Why do I have to pay tax and duty on the import of my goods?

Shipments of used personal effects are granted a GST and duty free concession however Australian Customs (ABF) has very strict criteria over what constitutes an Unaccompanied Personal Effects (UPE) shipment.   The importer must be a citizen, temporary or permanent resident returning to take up residency in Australia, or an approved migrant coming to Australia to live.  The importer must have personally owned and used the items overseas for a period of at least 12 months prior to entry into Australia. The 12-month ownership stipulation does not apply to personal clothing (except furs), footwear or grooming items (except perfumes).

The following items are NOT considered personal effects. They can still be imported but are subject to different arrangements and may be subject to Customs Duty and GST on arrival in Australia.

  • Items you have received as a gift or bequest from overseas while you were resident in Australia.
  • Items you have purchased from overseas (eg internet purchases) while you were resident in Australia
  • Alcohol or Tobacco products. Note that the duty-free allowances for these products carried personally during international travel DO NOT apply to unaccompanied personal effects.
  • Vehicles (including cars, motorbikes, trailers, campervans, motorhomes, caravans, boat trailers) or parts thereof
  • Commercial Goods (goods for re-sale)

High terminal handling charges relating to LCL freight?

LCL (Less than Container Load) shipments are shipped through Freight Forwarders and as such have another layer of cost as the container has to be transported to a third party customs bonded terminal near the port and unloaded into a warehouse in order to separate the various shipments within the container.  You should check your original quotation contract to see if these costs where included in the removal contract.  They can be listed as Destination THC, PSC, NVOCC or Port charges.  In the event these costs are not included in the contract they are payable by the AIMA member on your behalf in order to release the shipment for customs and quarantine processing.

I am being asked to pay port charges. What are they?

Port charges are costs payable to the shipping line and/or port stevedore to cover the unloading of the vessel and use of the berth at the port. Most international removal companies will include the destination port charges in their quotation and removal contract. If you are being asked to pay Australian port charges, you will need to review the quotation contract you made when originally booking your shipment.

Occasionally these charges are excluded from the transport contract at the time of booking the shipment in which case the AIMA member nominated by your overseas removalist will be asked to pay the port fees on your behalf in order to get your shipment released from the port. Port fees vary depending upon the shipping line and stevedore but can be in the order of $700 for a 20’ container, $900 for a 40’ container and up to $180 per cubic metre for Less than Container Load (LCL) shipments.

I am being asked to pay for fumigation. Why?

AIMA members have a responsibility as front-line agents on behalf of DAWR to control bio-security risks.  This means that if a container is opened at a DAWR approved warehouse and there is any visible evidence of insect infestation or contamination the quarantine licence holder is required by law to seal the container and report the incident immediately to DAWR.  The usual course of action is an order to fumigate the container in order to eliminate any risk to the environment from a foreign insect infestation.  The costs of this process are shared by all customers who have goods contained within the shipment.

Are there any free options for destruction?

In order for an item to be destroyed in a quarantine approved manner it must follow a prescribed process.  Smaller items are placed into a quarantine bin at your AIMA agent’s facility then transported to an incineration facility approved by DAWR.  Larger items have to be deep buried under quarantine control. Both these options involve very expensive costs to the quarantine licence holder (AIMA member) along with additional documentation, compliance and handling.  At no stage is it permitted to put items of quarantine risk into normal waste bins.

Why is there a fee for the mandatory quarantine inspection?

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources will only permit the unpacking of imported personal effects to occur within the confines of specially licenced and approved warehouses with adequate contamination containment measures, trained and accredited warehouse staff and the required electronic interface reporting systems. The fees for quarantine inspection, clearance and attendance charged by AIMA members cover the cost of annual depot licencing, use of bonded warehouse space, attendance and inspection fees for DAWR inspection officers and required interface software licencing

3. Insurance FAQ's

Could I be liable if the ship my goods are on is involved in an accident or salvage?

Yes this is actually true.  There is a very old maritime law that makes all shippers responsible for the cargo on a vessel.  In the event of a problem the shipping line can call on all shippers to contribute to the cost.  If you have taken Marine Transit Insurance through an AIMA member then you will be covered against this risk.

What happens to my transit insurance policy if I store my goods?

In the event that you need to store your goods with an AIMA member following the customs clearance process, you must notify the overseas removalist who arranged your transit insurance policy. In most cases a transit insurance extension can be arranged to extend your transit insurance to cover your goods while they are stored and maintain the cover until they are delivered to your final destination.  In the event your origin agent will not do this then your AIMA agent will be able to arrange storage insurance to at least cover your shipment for fire, flood or theft whist the goods are in storage.

4. Customs FAQ's

Why am I required to complete a B534 Customs Form?

Completion of the B534 Unaccompanied Goods Declaration is mandatory in order to be considered for relief from Customs Duty and GST.

To ensure the clearance of your shipment is as efficient as possible its important that your B534 is correctly completed.

Many overseas removal companies will provide a B534 to their customers for completion prior to shipping the consignment to Australia. In the event that the AIMA member managing your shipment does not have a copy of your completed B534, you will be asked to complete and return this at least 2 weeks prior to the shipment’s arrival into port. It is critical that the B534 is complete and submitted to Australian Border Force well before the vessel arrives. There are financial penalties for non-compliance with customs documentation.

Ensure that your full name matches the name on the passport you use to clear Australian immigration when entering Australia and that each page is completed and signed where requested.

My shipment arrived last week? Why can’t I have delivery?

If you have moved around the world before it can be quite a surprise to arrive in Australia and find that the goods take a long time to ‘clear customs’.  In fact, normal clearance times can be anywhere between 7 & 28 days, dependent upon the availability of the government departments at the time of your shipment’s arrival.   Your goods are moved to your AIMA member’s approved facility whilst this process takes place.  Firstly, Australian Border Force (ABF) will screen your Customs Form B534.  If they have any queries they will place a hold on your shipment whilst further investigations are conducted.  Once the hold is released your goods will be queued for a quarantine inspection.  Most AIMA members have designated inspection days each week when DAWR Officers will attend the facility in order to conduct inspections.  Should the DAWR officer have concerns with any shipments the level of inspection will increase and thereby slow down the processing of the quarantine inspection queue.  During peak times members will request additional hours for depot inspections however these are subject to availability of DAWR officers and cannot be guaranteed.   Only once ABF and DAWR are entirely satisfied that the shipment meets the required criteria will the shipment be ‘customs cleared’ and released for delivery.  Under no circumstances are AIMA members able to  make arrangement for delivery of goods until the shipment carries a CLEARED status.

5. Quarantine FAQ's

I am being asked to pay for fumigation. Why?

AIMA members have a responsibility as front-line agents on behalf of DAWR to control bio-security risks.  This means that if a container is opened at a DAWR approved warehouse and there is any visible evidence of insect infestation or contamination the quarantine licence holder is required by law to seal the container and report the incident immediately to DAWR.  The usual course of action is an order to fumigate the container in order to eliminate any risk to the environment from a foreign insect infestation.  The costs of this process are shared by all customers who have goods contained within the shipment.

My friend didn’t need their shoes cleaned, why are mine getting cleaned?

Quarantine inspections are a human process and while the authorities do their best to pick up all issues, some officers can be more fastidious than others.

Why is there a fee for the mandatory quarantine inspection?

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources will only permit the unpacking of imported personal effects to occur within the confines of specially licenced and approved warehouses with adequate contamination containment measures, trained and accredited warehouse staff and the required electronic interface reporting systems. The fees for quarantine inspection, clearance and attendance charged by AIMA members cover the cost of annual depot licencing, use of bonded warehouse space, attendance and inspection fees for DAWR inspection officers and required interface software licencing

Are all personal effects shipments subject to mandatory quarantine inspection?

Yes – Australia is in the fortunate situation of being one of the few countries relatively free of common pests and diseases found in other countries. For this reason, the Australian Government has mandated that all unaccompanied shipments of used personal effects, motor vehicles and vessels be screened and physically inspected at approved and licenced unpacking depots by Department of Agriculture and Water Resources inspection officers.

6. Storage FAQ's

What happens to my transit insurance policy if I store my goods?

In the event that you need to store your goods with an AIMA member following the customs clearance process, you must notify the overseas removalist who arranged your transit insurance policy. In most cases a transit insurance extension can be arranged to extend your transit insurance to cover your goods while they are stored and maintain the cover until they are delivered to your final destination.  In the event your origin agent will not do this then your AIMA agent will be able to arrange storage insurance to at least cover your shipment for fire, flood or theft whist the goods are in storage.

Can you deliver my shipment to another storage facility?

AIMA members will deliver your belongings to a third party storage facility. You should however be aware that such a delivery will constitute ‘final delivery’ and in most instances will signify the termination of any transit insurance policy you may hold.  This is significant as a delivery to a third party storage facility will generally mean you will not have the opportunity to have your shipment fully unpacked and inspected for transit damage.

I am not ready to take my goods. Can I store them?

All AIMA agents have storage facilities available.  They will be happy to store your goods for as long as you want. Storage charges are usually payable monthly or quarterly in advance.

7. Vehicle Import FAQ's

How do I register my vehicle?

In Australia we have a system of Compulsory Third Party Insurance (CTP).  All vehicles are required to have this prior to registration.  You can arrange this with your preferred insurance company.

Once you have your CTP and COI you can take the vehicle the relevant transport authority and arrange registration and license plates.

Your AIMA member will be able to refer service providers to complete the compliance and registration process on your behalf if you do not wish to do this yourself.

Are there mechanical compliance checks before I can register my vehicle?

This varies depending on the State you are importing into.  You will need to contact your AIMA agent to see what is applicable to you.

You will need to obtain a certificate of inspection (COI) in order to register the vehicle.

My car may contain asbestos, is this a problem?

You will be asked to declare any asbestos in your vehicle.  The can include, but is not limited to, Brake pads, Clutch, Gaskets, Sound dampening material and Heat shields.

If you cannot declare the vehicle is free from Asbestos you should get the asbestos removed or reconsider sending the vehicle to Australia.  If it arrives and asbestos is found the testing and removal process is very expensive.

What side of the road do you drive?

In Australia we drive on the left-hand side of the road so all vehicles here are Right Hand Drive (RHD).    If you import a vehicle that is LHD then you will need to convert it to RHD.  This is a very expensive process ($25,000 - $40,000 AUD).

The only exemptions to this are if you import the vehicle on a Carnet de Passage (temporary import for up to 12 months use.  Vehicle must be exported afterwards) or if the vehicle is manufactured prior to 1 January 1989.  Please note: if the vehicle has been restored the restoration date is considered to be the manufacture date.

What vehicles require a VIA?

Any vehicle with a motor or that is towed on the road is the simple answer.  This includes, but is not limited to, Cars, Motorbikes, Scooters, Mobility scooters, Mopeds, Pocket motorbikes, Trailers and Caravans.  It also includes things with electric motors such as children’s scooters, electric bikes and cars.  If you are in any doubt please contact your AIMA member for advice.

Do I need a permit to import my vehicle?

All vehicle imports into Australia will require a Vehicle Import Approval (VIA).  This is applied for online and can take up to 10 weeks to complete. Your vehicle cannot be shipped until you have received your approval.  If you send the vehicle without a VIA it can be ordered for re-export, destruction or just incur expensive bond store charges until such time as the approval is granted.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are all personal effects shipments into Australia subject to mandatory quarantine inspection?

Yes – Australia is in the fortunate situation of being one of the few countries relatively free of common pests and diseases found in other countries. For this reason, the Australian Government has mandated that all unaccompanied shipments of used personal effects, motor vehicles and vessels be screened and physically inspected at approved and licenced unpacking depots by Department of Agriculture and Water Resources inspection officers.

Why is there a fee for the mandatory quarantine inspection?

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources will only permit the unpacking of imported personal effects to occur within the confines of specially licenced and approved warehouses with adequate contamination containment measures, trained and accredited warehouse staff and the required electronic interface reporting systems. The fees for quarantine inspection, clearance and attendance charged by AIMA members cover the cost of annual depot licencing, use of bonded warehouse space, attendance and inspection fees for DAWR inspection officers and required interface software licencing.
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