I’m an Importer


Looking to Import something from overseas and need help understanding the process?

MPW Supply Chain Consultancy has done a little check list for you to help you out with the process, as we know how confusing and complicated it can be!

  • First, you need to find a reputable overseas supplier. The last thing you want to pay for a shipment and have it not turn up, or even worse turn up as something you didn’t order (like a container load of rocks).  It really pays to do your research.  Do they have an English Website? Does that site have reviews?  Maybe search for any negative feedback as well as positive? Remember you’re the customer so if they aren’t prepared to help, go somewhere else. 
  • Are they an Exporter? Plenty of businesses supply their local markets, but do they also have experience in exporting to countries like Australia and New Zealand.  Many Chinese companies require an Export License, and purchasing one on their behalf can be costly. It’s also imperative your supplier has a good understanding of their requirements, especially when it comes to export documentation. Australia has some of the strictest quarantine laws in the world, so it’s important the supplier adheres to our rules and regulations.  
  • Do they understand the documentation? Make sure the commercial documents are up to scratch. The invoice MUST state the currency, and have an accurate description of the goods. They will also need to provide a Packing Declaration.  You can download the template here. Can they provide a Certificate of Origin if a Free Trade Agreement is in place?  
  • Does Australia have a Free Trade Agreement with the country of Export? If so, you may potentially avoid paying Import Duty on your products.  If you have the product specifications, send this information through to us so we can accurately classify them for you.  
  • If they use timber pallets, are they sufficiently treated (ISMP-15 Standard)? It’s important you ask this question as untreated timber pallets can be a nightmare once the goods arrive in Australia.  Quarantine will need to unpack your container or pallets and have them destroyed AT YOUR COST! The last thing you need is expensive and costly delays once your goods arrive in Australia. 
  • What are your terms of Sale? Check here for an updated list of Incoterms commonly used in the importation process. You can view the latest revision of Incoterms here. If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to contact us to make sure you’re doing what is best for your business.  Remember overseas suppliers are there to make money first and foremost and may not have your best interests at heart.  
  • Does your shipment require the Original Documents to be sent on receipt of payment, or can it be a Telex/Express release? This will really make a difference when it comes to the availability of your goods at port of discharge.  You want to avoid costly delays waiting for the Original Bill of Lading to arrive.  An Electronic or Telex Release can save you the headache. 
  • Does your forwarder keep you updated? In 2018 there is no excuse not to offer regular tracking reports on an Ex-Works or FOB shipment keeping you informed on the whereabouts of your cargo. This is where the Terms of your shipment are also important.  If the freight is pre-paid, you may not know when your container/shipment arrives and could potentially be hit with penalty charges for storage or detention.  Make sure you demand regular updates where possible! If you get hold of your container number, you can also track your shipment on most carrier’s websites.  Click here to go to their tracking! 
  • Have you given your forwarder all the info you need for delivery? If you’re receiving a container, let them know which way you need the doors to face, what restrictions the driver might face when arriving on site, and what your opening hours are.  Remember, the more information you provide to your forwarder, the less chance there is that something will go wrong.  If you’re having a pallet delivered, can you unload it off the truck?  Many people forget that not every truck has a tail lift, and the driver may not help unload by hand.  Send a photo of your delivery site, or let the forwarder know if you require special equipment!  
  • Understand your Invoice! It really pays to double check how your forwarder will invoice you for the shipment. Do you have credit terms agreed prior to commencement of the shipment?  We’ve often seen clients not understand the difference between a regular Tax Invoice and Disbursement invoice, so make sure you have confirmation in writing of your terms. 

We hope the above checklist is useful next time you purchase goods from overseas.  If you have any helpful tips or suggestions please, let us know!