Top 5 Most Commonly Asked Freighting Questions

When freighting goods internationally, there are a lot of factors that come into play – from shipping rates, to documentation, to different countries’ import/export restrictions.
To make life a little bit easier, we’ve rundown the most commonly asked freighting questions, that will help you out when you’re organising your next shipment.

Need more specialised help? Get in contact with McHugh & Eastwood today, your supply chain specialists.

1. Why are ocean freight rates so high in 2021?

Ocean freight rates have surpassed 300% this year, which can all be all credited to our not-so-welcomed friend, COVID-19.

It began with the lockdowns of early 2020 – because some countries implemented lockdowns to contain the spread of the virus, economic movements and productions were paused – multiple factory closures resulted in a large number of containers being left at ports, which led to the current global container imbalance crisis.

  • A demanding peak season 
  • A considerable rise in the number of imports 
  • Not enough labour to cope with the surge of containers arriving at our ports. 
  • Because of this, many ports in Australia have increased their stevedore charges (the cost to load/shift cargo), which means that shipping line charges have increased too. 

Here are some other factors affecting ocean freight rates:

  • Trade imbalance between China and the West
  • Trade tensions between China and the US
  • Big shipping firms taking advantage of the global crisis

2. What is the difference between the DAFF and Australian Border Force/Customs?

Both of these departments create, regulate, and enforce measures within the importing and exporting industry to protect Australia’s national interests.

The DAFF, better known as the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, are in charge of making sure Australian imports don’t risk the harm to Australia agriculture, fisheries or forestry.

Australia’s customs and border force regulations, as well as vetting processes, are enforced to ensure Australia’s national security.

DAFF – Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

  • DAFF direct imports are inspected, unpacked and treated based on a variety of reasons. Some cargo will undergo mandatory screening and require additional treatment measures. This also depends on current regulations and agriculture threats – such as the new Khapra Beetle treatment requirements
  • In some cases, DAFF will request additional documentation, such as a fumigation certificate or a manufacturer’s declaration – if the cargo has been treated prior to departure.
  • Wood (including pallets) will need to be ISPM15 Approved / treated (fumigated) when importing into Australia.

Customs and Australian Border Force

  • Australian Customs can randomly or strategically target and place consignments under border control – also known as border hold. Typically, this will be to review the documentation of the shipment further, but it may also include an x-ray inspection to ensure that the cargo being declared matches what is within the shipment itself.
  • For security purposes, Australian Customs doesn’t disclose the reason for the hold, or how long the hold lasts.
  • However, you can assume that if you’re a first-time FCL client, or are a new ABN linked with a broker that has not been used previously, you will be subject to undergo further customer/border processing.

3. From ETA into Port, how long until delivery can be achieved?

Generally speaking, the delivery rate of your goods depends on the delivery method – whether your goods are arriving in a Full Container Load (FCL) or a Less than Container Load (LCL). 

It can also depend on the unpacking process of a freight forwarder – in other words, how quickly they can get the job done! At McHugh & Eastwood, we pride ourselves on having an efficient turnaround time – we deliver cargo to our clients in the shortest possible time frame.

Full Container Load: Typically 3-5 days 

  • After arrival, the vessel will take a minimum of 48 hours to discharge and unload all containers.
  • 2-3 days prior to the vessel arrival, the terminal will post and share their availability window, allowing transport carriers to slot their allocated containers.
  • Each carrier and forwarder will have a 3-day window to 3 collect and receive delivery of their container. Additional charges may apply if the importer cannot receive delivery within the window of allocated time. This could be due to a variety of reasons, including outstanding payments and missing documentation. 
  • Approximate turnaround from arrival into port to the end of delivery is 3-5 days.

Less than Container Load: Typically 5-9 days 

  • The LCL container will follow the same process as above, however once slotted and collected from the terminal, the container will be scheduled for unpacking. 
  • The unpacking process depends on the CFS Depot (Container Freight Station), but on average is a 2-3 day process. Approximate turnaround from arrival into port to the end of delivery is 5-9 days. 
  • At ME, we unpack our LCL Consolidated containers on the first available day, and execute the final delivery the next business day, meaning our turnaround is approximately 3-5 days. How’s that for speedy!

4. Are there any restrictions I need to know about?

It’s important to be aware of the different types of restrictions that can occur when shipping goods internationally. There are three main areas to be considerate and diligent in ensuring you’re following the correct guidelines (and save yourself the hassle of penalties and time delays!).

Hazardous Materials

Before committing to a purchase, it’s best to review the hazmat guidelines for air travel and ocean freight. This is because any potentially hazardous materials may be banned at your destination, or come with significant restrictions and fees imposed.

Copyright and trademark infringement

Research beforehand to ensure the items you’re importing don’t violate any of the trademark and/or copyright holders’ rights. Some countries have very strict rules, and take these infringements very seriously, so if you are found in violation of these rights, you could be facing some huge penalties.

Customs Regulations and Fees

Knowing the import/export restrictions – as well as any associated fees – of your good’s destination will save you time and money in the long run! Like Australia, many countries have strict border control, meaning that even non-hazardous cargo require inspection upon arrival.

5. What are the necessary shipping documents used in international shipping?

To import sea freight to anywhere in Australia, you will need to provide your freight forwarding company with documentation from you and your business. 

In order to get your goods moving quickly, it’s super important to have the following documents ready for your freight forwarders: 

So there you have it! Of course, there are many more factors that are involved, and are often unique to each shipment. Over our 40 years in the industry, we have bespoke solutions for any supply chain issue. Get in contact today to see how we can help.

Globally connected,
locally invested.