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Importing from the US into Australia: The Ultimate Guide


Importing from the US into Australia: The Ultimate Guide

The U.S. has already established a strong economic relationship with Australia. This goes all the way back to 2005 when the free trade agreement was signed between the two countries. But it arguably goes even further back when the countries signed the ANZUS Treaty, a defence and security agreement signed in 1951.

This article will give an overview of the offerings of the American market, its primary imports, how your goods can be shipped to and from the U.S. and – of course – our free trade agreement.

What the US market offers

As Australia’s third largest trade partner, the United States provides a varied range of goods and service exports that cater to the Australian market. This two-way trade keeps our trade and investment relationship strong. In 2021, U.S. exports to Australia amounted to $26.4 billion. This was a 13.1% increase from the previous year. This goes to show that the U.S. market has continually maintained a solid trade relationship with Australia.

Key Imports from the US

What does Australia import from the U.S.? We’ve compiled the list below.

  • Machinery including computers: US$428.8 billion (14.6% of total imports)

Machinery including computers is the topmost import from the U.S. This category also includes computer parts, turbo-jets, taps, valves, printing machinery, refrigerators, vacuum pumps, and air conditions.

  • Electrical machinery, and equipment: $416 billion (14.2%)

This makes up the second largest amount of imports from the U.S. Trade partners usually import smartphones, microassemblies, monitors, cable, and power units.

  • Vehicles: $283.1 billion (9.6%)

US imports of vehicles include cars, automobile parts, trucks, tractors, trailers, motorcycles, motorcycle parts, and automobile bodies.

  • Mineral fuels including oil: $223.9 billion (7.6%)

Mineral fuels imported from the US are mostly crude oil, processed petroleum oils, petroleum gases, electrical energy, peat, and coal.

  • Pharmaceuticals: $149.5 billion (5.1%)

The U.S. is also a popular choice when it comes to pharmaceutical imports including human or animal blood, antisera, blood fractions, vaccines, toxins, medicaments, wadding, gauzes, bandages, glands, and other organs.

Pharmaceutical machinery imports
  • Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $106.2 billion (3.6%)

Optical, technical, and medical apparatus comprise the top goods imported from the US such as orthopaedic appliances, surgical instruments, x-rays, measuring instruments, and spectrum analysers. These frequently rely on specialised freight services for careful handling and shipping.

  • Gems, precious metals: $96 billion (3.3%)

The U.S does not come last when talking about exports of gems and precious metals. This includes gemstones and diamonds.

  • Plastics, plastic articles: $82.5 billion (2.8%)

Plastic materials are also part of the US’ top imports. These are related to radial tires, toys, and electronics. There are also plastic tableware, household articles, and kitchenware.

Importing plastics from the US
  • Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $81.4 billion (2.8%)

This includes items such as furniture, bedding, lighting signs, and prefabricated buildings. These are seats, mattress supports, medical furniture, and illuminated name-plates.

  • Organic chemicals: $64.4 billion (2.2%)

Last but not least, the US is also a top exporter of organic chemicals such as acids, organic composite solvents, and alcohols.

Shipping methods & Transit times

Ocean Freight

Shipping your goods by sea typically takes longer than shipping by air. However, on the brighter side, it is the cheapest option for shipping goods.The lead time ranges from 30 to 45 days, although it is dependent on the chosen type of the shipment of the importer whether LCL (Less Than Container Load) or FCL (Full Container Load).

Air Freight

Without a doubt, airfreight is the fastest mode of transport when shipping from the U.S. to Australia. Although its price is higher compared to sea freight, goods especially those that are of high value and fragile, are secured and handled with utmost care.

Even with a 15,175 km distance between the two countries, your import could arrive on the land of Australia within 2 to 8 days through airfreight.

Getting the documentation correct

A vital part of the importation process is getting the documentation accurate. This is to guarantee a smooth flow of the supply chain when importing from the United States. A failure to get the documents right could mean delays and unexpected costs that eat into your bottom line.

 Make sure to comply with the following documents:

Commercial Invoice

The commercial invoice is a common document in global shipping that describes the goods you’re shipping, the seller and buyer, the value of the item and other critical information about the product.

Download Commercial Invoice Sample

Packing Declaration

A packing declaration is a document that lets Australian customs authorities know the details of the material you’ve used to pack your goods.

This requirement was imposed for biosecurity reasons and to ensure that harmful materials do not enter Australia. Ensure you are well across Australia’s strict biosecurity requirements.

Download Annual Declaration
Download Per Shipment Declaration

Packing List

The packing list details the details of your cargo, and details especially how your shipment has been packed.

Download Packaging List Template

Certificate of Origin

A Certificate of Origin (COO) is a declaration that gives details about the country in which the imported goods are made. The document also contains a government authority confirmation stating that the shipped goods are manufactured in a specific country.

Download Packaging List Template

What is the US & Australia Free Trade Agreement?

On January 1, 2005, the U.S-Australia Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) entered into force. This agreement made the United States one of Australia’s most important trading partners and its largest investor.

AUSFTA created a wide range of benefits for Australia, including an eventual elimination of nearly all tariffs and prohibiting a colossal range of market access restrictions.

The result isn’t surprising. In 2021, the U.S. accounted for 25.5% of all investments in Australia – more than all other investors.

You can read more about Australia’s free trade agreements here.

Planning to import from or export to the US?

Let us know and we’ll gladly be of service to help your business grow. The team at International Cargo Express maintains an established trade lane with America and have been moving goods between Australia and the U.S. for over 30 years.

We’re in the ideal position to help you in all your international shipments and are committed to keeping costs down as you navigate the choppy waters.

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or call us on 1300 227 461

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