Freight Forwarding Services From USA to Australia


Importing Goods from the United States into Australia?

Freight Forwarding Services From USA to Australia

As freight forwarders, we act as a single point of contact to arrange everything-shipping, from origin to final destination. We already have connections with the best carriers, transport operators, overseas shipping agents and a team of in-house customs brokers to make the customs clearance process as seamless as possible.

Benefit from the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA), and access duty-free concessions for your imported cargo from the USA.

With 25 depots across the USA and weekly sailings to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, we can accommodate any requirement you may have:

  • Pick-up, packing and buyer’s consolidation
  • Competitive FCL rates
  • Weekly LCL consolidation services
  • Management of door-to-door shipments
  • Port handling and inland transportation
  • Project shipments


Our Services

As an Australian-owned B2B commercial freight forwarding company with over 35 years’ experience, ICE have imported a wide range of goods from the US to Australia. This includes machinery, electrical equipment, medical devices, pharmaceutical products, aircraft parts, boilers, pipes, valves, industrial consumables, etc.


United States – Australia Shipping Process

We collect the cargo from your supplier

If you are buying on EXW incoterms, we will arrange the pick-up from your supplier in America. If you are shipping on FOB terms, your supplier will be responsible for packing and sending the goods to the port or airport in America.

We organise the documentation

We work with your supplier(s) to obtain a Commercial Invoice, Certificate of Origin, Packing List, Packing Declaration and any other relevant documentation.

We book international freight

Ocean freight, air freight, or international express courier based on your cargo’s specifications (weight, size, fragility, urgency, etc).

The goods get sent

We send the shipping invoice for your payment confirmation and send you the sea/air freight tracking number. A full set of Pre-Alert documentation will be available to you within 36 hours of vessel departure.

We organise local customs clearance

We review your shipping documentation, prepare import or export declarations and permits, check your shipping documents and ensure your business is compliant with biosecurity (quarantine) requirements.

Final Delivery

Our cartage team arranges delivery from port or airport to your premises or we can arrange warehousing until you are ready to receive the goods.

routing and Transit times

Routes from USA to Australia

Sea freight from the US West Coast to Australia takes approximately 22-30 days, port to port, on a direct service. Example: Los Angeles, California to Sydney.

Sea freight from the US East Coast to Australia takes approximately 42 days, port to port, on transhipment service. Example: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Sydney.

There are no direct sea freight from the US to the West Coast of Australia, taking approximately 40-68 days, port to port, on transhipment service. Example: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Fremantle – 68 days and Oalkland, California to Fremantle – 45 days.

Air freight from the US to Australia takes approximately 3-10 days, door to door, depending on the service. Take advantage of our weekly consolidations from 10
strategic hubs throughout the USA: Atlanta, Boston,
Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami,
New York, San Francisco and Seattle.

Express shipping from USA to Australia is another option for small cargo under 45kgs, taking approximately 2-5 working days, and most suitable for urgent or time-sensitive cargo. Express shipping is a door-to-door air freight service provided by international couriers such as FedEx, DHL, TNT Express or UPS.

New service options and port rotations are constantly being implemented by carriers. At the time of quoting, ICE will provide the best service options available at the time of quoting.

*Example route only from MSC. ICE will advise on the best carrier and shipping route options for your destination.



  • Air freight is available for shipments weighing at least 45 kilograms.
  • Sea freight is available for shipments with the minimum of 1 pallet or volume of 1 cubic meter.
  • For anything less than that, you should consider an international courier instead.
  • ICE handles commercial freight for Australian Registered Businesses (must have an ABN). We don’t handle personal effects (such as personal items, cars, boats, alcohol, and furniture), perishables (fresh produce), and small one-off consignments.


Your Cargo In Safe Hands 

ICE is where premium service meets freight forwarding. With a strength in customer service and exceptional support, working with ICE translates into peace of mind. Learn more about the ICE Team today

  • In-house customs brokers
  • 35+ years’ experience
  • Personable, experienced and knowledgeable staff
  • Local teams, with offices across Australia
  • Completely tailored shipping solutions
  • Single source for all your freight needs
  • Easy and direct communication
  • Direct access to our Senior Management
Freight Forwarding Services From China to Australia


USA-Australia Frequently Asked Questions

How much does sea freight cost from the US to Australia?

Shipping costs vary highly depending on your cargo type, the carrier, the weight and size of your cargo, whether it is a door to door or port to port service and any other specifics (such as dangerous goods or sensitive cargo).

Freight rates for a standard 20’ container can start as low as $3,000. However, the true cost will be calculated after adding import duty, transportation fees, insurance, carrier surcharges, GST, and any other applicable charges. This is without accounting for any external events that affect costs, such as port congestion, labour strikes or capacity crunches, which are not uncommon in the industry.

Some online services offer instant freight rates, but only a freight forwarder will be able to provide an accurate quote considering all your specific requirements (time, budget, cargo type, insurance), instead of automatically charging a considerably higher markup to cover any potential costs.

How much does airfreight cost from the US to Australia?

Airfreight is priced based on chargeable weight (or volumetric ratios), which are used to ensure the weight or size of your cargo are considered in equal measure when shipping.

For example, you are shipping something light like toilet rolls. The toilet rolls only weigh 100kgs, however, they take up a lot of space: over 5 cubic meters. The airline will now charge you a volumetric weight to cover the space taken up on the aircraft.

We have a volumetric rate calculator to help you. Once you’ve got the chargeable weight, your forwarder will be able to provide you with a quote.

As a rule of thumb, standard air freight is the cheapest option for shipments between 150 kilos and 500 kg.  Once a shipment weighs more than 500 kg, ocean freight should be considered if your cargo is not urgent.

How long does it take to ship from the US to Australia?

Sea freight from the US to Australia can take anything from 22 to 70 days, depending on the port of origin and destination. Typically, Full Container Load (FCL) offers quicker transit times than Less Container Load (LCL), as the container isn’t shared with other shipments. Air freight from US to Australia takes about 3-10 days, door to door.

Italy-Australia Freight Transit Times  
Door to Door
Sea Freight (FCL) 26-67 days
Sea Freight (LCL)* 30-75 days
Air Freight 3-10 days
Express Courier 2-6 days
*LCL takes a bit longer as your goods need to be deconsolidated from the container before they can be delivered.

“I need it urgently off the boat! Can you get my container first?”

Unfortunately, we don’t have control on vessel unloading and accessing containers in a specified order. When your container will be uplifted depends on the cargo stack. Heavy cargo will automatically sit on the bottom of the vessel, for safety and weight distribution purposes.

It can take up to 5 days (typically 2 days) for a container to be offloaded from a vessel, depending on how far back and accessible the container is.

Once available at the wharf, we usually have three days to collect before demurrage charges apply.

What do I need to know about customs clearing my goods from the US?

To start:

  • Ensure your imported goods are not prohibited by checking the ABF’s full list of prohibited goods
  • Have the following essential documents on hand: Commercial InvoicePacking ListPacking Declaration
  • Ask your supplier to provide the HS code for each item/product on your commercial invoice and ask your customs broker to review prior to import. This will ensure we can correctly declare your goods to the Australian Customs authorities.

In terms of costs:

For goods valued above AUD 1,000 you will typically have to pay:

  • Import Duty: 5% value of the goods
  • GST: 10% goods and services tax (Value of goods + freight + insurance + duty * 10%)
  • Customs Import Declaration Processing Fee
    • Seafreight shipments with a value of $10,000 or less attract an import processing charge of A$113.00 per shipment
    • Seafreight shipments with a value of $10,000 or more attract an import processing charge of A$215.00 per shipment
    • Airfreight shipments with a value of $10,000 or less attract an import processing charge of A$93.00 per shipment
    • Airfreight shipments with a value of $10,000 or more attract an import processing charge of $195.00 per shipment
  • In addition, your forwarder will charge a customs clearance fee to manage this process with customs.

What documents do I need to import from the US to Australia?

To ship from the United States to Australia, you will need the following documents, at minimum:

  •  Commercial Invoice – this should include the agreed shipping terms;
  • Packing List – this document outlines all the details of your freight such as how your goods have been packed. This allows for reduced inspection times in the event some cargo needs to be looked at as it can be easily located within your consignment
  • Packing Declaration (for sea freight only) – These are mandatory for shipping into Australia, and declare what kind of material has been used to pack goods. If the material contains wood, straw or bark, the goods will require a fumigation/treatment certificate;
  • Certificate of Origin, which declares details of the country in which your goods are manufactured. You will need this declaration to benefit from the Australia-United States FTA, allowing you to pay zero or lower import duty on US-manufactured goods.
  • Letter of Credit (optional). A letter of credit is a formal agreement that legally binds both parties in an international trade transaction. It spells out the financial and other responsibilities between both parties.
  • An Airway Bill (for Air Freight) or a Bill of Lading (for Ocean Freight). As your freight forwarder, ICE will be directly responsible for providing this document.

Depending on the type of goods, you may also require permits, certificates, or licenses. Whenever this applies, our team will notify you ahead of time so you’re better prepared to make the necessary arrangements.

What are the best incoterms for importing from the US?

Incoterms are the terms of trade that buyer and supplier agree on before shipping so each party knows who is responsible for what in the shipping process (like who should arrange insurance, who should arrange transport and customs clearance).

The best incoterms for importing from Italy are EXW and FOB, as they give the importer the most control over each aspect of the shipment and full visibility of what’s being charged.

EXW indicates that you have full responsibility (and control) for bringing the goods from origin to destination. You must find someone to pick up cargo at the supplier’s warehouses and deliver to the port of export. The product price stated in EXW terms is only the product cost, and the supplier does not provide any shipping or exporting services. Under EX Works incoterms, you are responsible for everything in the shipping process.

FOB stands for Free On Board. The supplier bears the entire expense of delivering products to an American port or airport, as well as the cost of exporting. You only need to arrange an Australian freight forwarder, such as ICE, to book the freight, customs clear the goods, handle cargo pick up at the port in Australia and transport it to the final destination.

What goods cannot be imported into Australia from the US?

Here are some of the prohibited import goods that require an import permit in Australia:

    • Biosecurity risk items: plants, seeds, animal products, soil, woolpacks, certain breeds of pets, fresh foodstuffs like un-canned meat, eggs, fish, fruits and dairy, and any products that could pose a threat to Australia’s environment or agriculture. Some products such as straw objects, potpourri, and pine cones, used agricultural machinery and anything with soil or biological residue need to be treated for hygiene before entry, presenting a cleanliness certificate.

    • Medicines and pharmaceuticals: steroids, animal growth hormones, medicines and drugs require permits to ensure they meet safety standards.

    • Hazardous goods: pesticides, explosives, mercury, radioactive substances.

    • Firearms: including accessories, firearm parts, firearm magazines, ammunition, imitation firearms, paintball markers and airsoft firearms.

    • Weapons: daggers, blades, spikes, karambits, throwing knives/blades/axes, push knives, non-metallic, ceramic knives, pepper sprays, extendable or telescopic batons.

    • Other items: tobacco, lighters, vaping goods, glazed ceramic ware, certain incandescent lamps, body armour, laser pointers, pornography and objectionable materials, tablet presses and encapsulator machines.

Air cargo is even more restrictive than sea cargo, including gases (e.g. lamp bulbs), all things flammable (e.g. perfume, some mobile phones), toxic or corrosive items (e.g. batteries), magnetic substances (e.g. speakers), oxidizers and biochemical products (e.g. chemical medicines), and public health risks (e.g. untanned hides).

Find the complete list of prohibited imported goods in Australia here.

When is the best time to ship from the US?

You can import from the US all year round, however, be aware of the shipping peak season from late July to October. During this time, many retailers are placing new stock orders in preparation for the Christmas holidays.

Capacity on cargo vessels is usually tight as demand peaks – and so do freight rates. Container rollovers are not uncommon; that is whenever the container cannot be loaded onto the ship that you booked, being rolled over to the next available service.

We recommend you place your orders as early as possible to avoid any possible delays.

What is the maximum weight of a container that I can ship from the US to Australia?

The international maritime convention, SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea), has issued a set of strict regulations that must be followed by shippers. Failure to comply can result in fines.

  • 20’ containers can have a maximum load of 24,947Kg to 28,122Kg.
  • 40’ containers can have a maximum load of 26,852Kg to 27,669Kg.
  • 40’ HC (High Cube) containers can have a maximum load of 28,122Kg.
  • 45’ HC container have a limit of 27,864Kg.

How do I minimise shipping costs from the US to Australia?

  • Ship off-peak. During shipping peak season (such as on the lead up to Christmas, around July-October), there is more shipping demand than vessel capacity available as retailers globally are stocking up. Both shipping prices and transit times increase. Ship during off-peak seasons whenever you can.
  • Get your documentation in order. Ensure you have all documentation in place ahead of time for a smooth customs clearance. Missing information, incorrect documentation, and even a typo can result in costly delays.
  • Know your HS Codes. A lot of shippers are surprised by how much customs fees can affect business costs. Arrange a customs broker to find the right HS Code for each one of your products, or ask for a customs audit if you are unsure your goods have been classified correctly. You may even be eligible for a tariff concession or a customs refund if not.
  • Lean on your forwarder. Give as much detail about your requirements as possible and let us demonstrate our expertise by finding the best shipping solution available for your cargo.