Watercraft Importing - Overview

Watercraft Importing - Overview
Importing a jet ski or boat from the USA to Australia is not in itself difficult, but it’s made
significantly easier when you understand and follow the regulations and procedures - to the letter.
The information contained in the following is designed as an overview of the rules, regulations and
procedures in place for shipping a jet ski or boat from the USA to Australia, as at June 2010. If
you’re considering importing we recommend you read this and use the web links for more specific
information than we can include in an overview.
The following is written based on importing a jet ski or boat from the USA to Australia. Shipping a
jet ski or boat from another country are similar, though not exactly the same, so don’t hesitate to
call us for details on your specific enquiry.
Understand the steps, regulations and pitfalls:
Successfully importing any item is made up of a series of steps from the initial ‘want’ for a
particular jet ski or boat through to picking it up in Australia on arrival. Following are the basic
steps to complete the shipment in such a way as to minimise cost, and avoid disaster:
1) Homework. Understanding ALL the steps and costs from buying the jet ski or boat through
to shipping BEFORE you bid/pay will save money, time and effort later in the process.
2) Shipping agent. Choosing an experienced forwarder like Mainfreight will ensure your
shipment is in good hands from the start.
3) Trailer require an Import Permit. A valid import permit is vital for all trailers. Shipping
without it may result in the trailer being refused entry, ordered for re export or
confiscated/destroyed – all at huge cost to you.
4) Air conditioning. Some larger boats are fitted with a/c and the Australian Government
have strict regulations on ALL air conditioning systems. A boat fitted with a/c MUST have a
certificate relating to the type of air conditioning.
5) Customs Import Duty and Taxes. Duty and GST can add significantly to the total cost. It’s
important you understand the taxes you will incur.
6) Australian Quarantine Inspection Service – AQIS. All used jet skis or boats/trailers
imported will be inspected by AQIS on arrival.
7) Insurance. Your items are not automatically insured while in transit. We can help with
Marine Insurance for all risks in the unlikely event of damage or loss.
8) Registration in Australia. Most trailers will require some level of work to comply with local
regulations before it can be registered. Know the rules to avoid disappointment on arrival.
9) Shipping documents. It’s very important you have complete and correct documentation
before shipment. Documents are required for the Customs clearance process at both ends.
10) Shipping – the process and timeframes
These steps are the basics required to help ensure the shipment is a smooth one. In the following
pages we have expended on these points to give you a better understanding of each one and how
it will affect you. If you’re considering importing we strongly recommend you study these points
and contact us for further information as there is more to importing than we can put into this
1) Homework
It’s vital you have a good understanding of the regulations and processes for the shipment of your
jet ski or boa & trailer. 99%+ of everything you need to know is on the web, and much of it is
contained in the following points and links:
We can help with information on all aspects of importing cars, bikes, boats, jets skis, parts or just
about anything else. These links and the following information will give you the guidelines on how
to import and what can be imported - and tips on what not to do.
2) Choice of shipping agent (freight forwarder)
The choice of the right partner in shipping can’t be overemphasised. Getting this decision right will
ensure you have a partner working with you from the beginning. Experience, passion, financial
security and an easy-to-do-business with attitude should be items high on the check list for any
decision on who you have on your side.
Kiwi Shipping is the specialist jet ski & boat shipping brand for Mainfreight and has 20 years
experience in shipping from the USA. We specialise in cars, bikes, parts, jet skis, boats, trailers,
and any other manner of cargo ‘normal’ freight forwarders and Customs brokers can’t handle.
Mainfreight are a publicly listed transport and logistics group - you have most likely seen our
trucks on the road – so you can rest assured knowing you’re working with a financially strong and
professional organisation, not a small less secure one. Our name and reputation mean the world
to us, and making your experience a great one is our goal.
All facets of our business are built around giving our clients quality service tied to competitive
rates. We don’t like nasty surprises any more than you so whenever possible we offer all in rates –
no hidden extras – and all in Australian dollars.
A large proportion of our clients are repeat customers who have enjoyed our services in the past
so we are able to give references if you would like them. Call us and see just how easy importing
can be when you chose the right partner.
3) Import Permit
Boats and ski’s do not require an import permit BUT if there is a trailer under them that trailer
MUST have an import permit before its shipped. This warning is shown on the Government
All Vehicles must have a valid Import Approval to gain entry into Australia. Vehicles that arrive in
Australia without an Import Approval generally incur significant storage costs until an Import
Approval is issued. If the vehicle does not meet the requirements for an Import Approval, you will
need to either export the vehicle or have it destroyed at your own expense.
The link below will bring up the current import application form for trailers over 4.5t GVM:
The link below is for application to import a vehicle under the Personal Imports Scheme - THIS
The link below will bring up the application form for small trailers – boat trailers / box trailers and
the like – under 4.5T:
Once complete the form must be submitted to Canberra with the permit application fee and the
following documents:
Purchase document (Bill of Sale)
Copy of your payment – Bank transfer/statement
A clear current photo of the trailer. For trailers include a clean photo of the VIN plate and a
copy of the trailers specifications from the manufacturer
Certified picture ID of the importer – a photocopy of the passport ID page or your drivers
license. Can be certified by a pharmacist, GP or others as listed on page 32 of the VSB10
information brochure.
Note: If a vehicle (car/truck/bike/trailer) arrives in Australia without an approved import permit
Australian Customs will hold the item until a permit is granted. The costs, delays and drama
involved in this can be devastating and are beyond our control while held.
4) Air Conditioning
Air conditioning gases and systems come under the control of the Department of Environment and
Heritage, and those fitted to boats fall under very strict controls. While this is a technical area of
the import process the department have not issued specific forms to enable compliance, only a set
of guidelines, as follows:
If the boat is fitted with an older CFC (R12) air conditioning system the whole system MUST
be completely removed before shipment. CFC units are strictly prohibited. Alternatively it
can be converted, if possible, to HCFC (R134a) before shipment but a certificate from a
certified air conditioning engineer MUST be supplied.
HCFC (R134a) air conditioning units MUST be degassed and the schraeder valve removed
by a certified engineer. The engineer must supply a certificate on their business invoice or
letterhead to state that all gas has been removed (it MUST also name the type of gas) and
that the schraeder valve was removed.
An air conditioning system which has been removed from the boat cannot be shipped as
parts in or with the boat without a certificate that it is a R134a system. CFC (R12) systems
and parts are prohibited so all parts that arrive without correct certificates can cause delays
and additional cost.
Officially air conditioning units cannot be removed or degassed after the boat/trailer arrives
in Australia. Should a boat arrive without acceptable certification it could be ordered to be
re-exported, so the costs and repercussions of getting this wrong can be very severe.
Air conditioning systems and their certification have become more of a challenge to importers in
recent times and rank as important as the Import Permit for the trailer itself. For more information
call us and/or visit: http://www.environment.gov.au/atmosphere/ozone/licences/index.html
5) Customs Clearance, Import Duty and Taxes
There are taxes that may apply to the importation of a jet ski or boat/vehicle/cargo, and they are:
Items imported into Australia attract a 10% GST on arrival, and while there are some exceptions
they are rare so for the purposes of doing your homework we strongly recommend you factor GST
into the calculation of the ‘landed cost’. The GST is calculated on the cost of the jet ski or boat,
plus any inland transport in the USA, plus the shipping costs, plus the insurance cost. You pay
GST for the total cost of the jet ski or boat, not just the jet ski or boat itself. We can help with these
calculations if you’re looking at working out the costs for a particular jet ski or boat.
Import Duty:
The Australian Government may charge Duty on your jet ski or boat/trailer depending on their
type. Please note that not all items shipped from the USA are necessarily duty free
Following are details of current rates:
Boats new or used attract 5% duty – Unless accompanied by a valid AUSFTA declaration.
Jet ski’s – most are duty free under certain tariff concessions
Trailers attract 5% duty
Cars over 30 years - no duty charged
Passenger vehicles under 30 years attract 5% duty
Parts usually attract 5% duty
Motorcycles (with spark plug ignition piston engines) are duty fee
Items imported with a valid AUSFTA declaration will see them enter duty free.
An Australian Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) declaration is a specific form that must be
completed by the manufacturer of the boat/trailer. If you buy a new Sea Ray you will need an
AUSFTA declaration from Rea Ray, an AUSFTA declaration from the boat dealer you purchased it
from is not acceptable under AUSFTA guidelines. The boat dealer is a reseller, not the
Like import permits and air conditioning this is a technical area of the import process so please
feel free to contact us and/or check the Customs system for more specific information relating to
your jet ski or boat:
Customs Clearance, Import Duty and Taxes - continued
Parts and items purchased on eBay / swap meets:
Shipping parts or other items with or inside the jet ski or boat is possible, BUT a detailed manifest
and invoice for EACH item MUST be supplied. Additional Customs clearance fees for parts
shipped with or inside a jet ski or boat may apply on top of the all in jet ski or boat quotation.
Australian Customs demand specific information on who supplied/sold the items and must have an
invoice listing the price for EACH item.
Duty and taxes may be charged on any items with/inside the jet ski or boat.
Items purchased on web sites (eBay etc) and from swap meets are attracting greater attention
from Australian Customs and AQIS. Customs demand an invoice or detailed receipt showing the
following information:
Sellers name/company
Sellers address
Sellers phone number or email address
If you purchase items and pay cash, at a swap meet for
example, it’s very important that the seller provide you a
detailed receipt showing their name, address and contact
telephone number/s. They should specifically note on
the receipt that you paid cash for the item/s
Not keeping or providing detailed invoices or records will
cause delays and may result in additional cost.
6) Australian Quarantine Inspection Service – AQIS
Australia has some of the toughest quarantine regulations in the world with all cargo arriving being
subject to some form of AQIS profiling or intervention. This is one of the few areas where we
cannot give any guarantee before a car/bike/boat or trailer arrives.
All cargo arriving in Australia must have AQIS documentation of one type or another. All used jet
skis and boats/trailers require a formal AQIS entry and inspection by an AQIS officer. Inspections
are very thorough and ANY contamination (dirt/leaves/bugs/water) may result in the ski or boat
being ordered for cleaning. We suggest clients have any used jet ski or boat washed and cleaned,
inside out and under, before shipping to help reduce any washing that may be ordered on arrival.
Spending hours on the ski/boat/trailer with a pressure washer in the USA is not a guarantee of
AQIS passing it on arrival, but it would reduce the time for washing here and ultimately the cost.
The inspection and cleaning costs for jet skis or boats vary from state to state, but for the
purposes of costing work on a wash costing A$120.00 per hour plus another A$ 200.00 odd in
AQIS second inspection and depot handling fees, plus transport to the cleaning facility if required.
The AQIS entry and first inspection fees are included in our all in price for the ski/boat though
subsequent inspections will be additional and passed on at the AQIS cost. Any sitting water, wood,
straw, plant material or other quarantine risk material should be removed from the jet ski or boat
before shipping. The cost for treatment or destruction for these items can be very high so it’s best
to remove them before shipping.
AQIS rules for importing cargo are not unlike those you face when entering Australia, so work on
the assumption that if you can’t bring it in with you through an airport, you can’t bring it in as cargo
with/in your jet ski or boat.
If you’re importing new items it is possible to reduce AQIS involvement if the supplier provides a
‘New and Unused’ declaration for the item/s. We can supply that form if and when required
Note 1: AQIS rules are in place for the protection of Australia and can’t be bent or broken. We can
and will help with any issue before the jet ski or boat/item is shipped, but once it’s been shipped
AQIS rules will apply. This is another area where understanding will avoid additional cost and
Note 2: The importation of tyres is controlled by AQIS. Please contact us for specific information
on these issues if you are shipping tyres not fitted to the trailer.
Note: Any parts shipped with or in the jet ski or boat will be subject to AQIS regulation and
inspection, unless correct and complete Packing Declarations are provided by the suppliers. If
parts arrive without correct AQIS declarations they will be subject to AQIS inspection costs. If
AQIS order treatment for any reason significant costs may result. Please talk to us about what you
want to bring before shipment.
For more information you can visit: www.daff.gov.au/aqis
7) Insurance
Mainfreight will take the utmost care with your jet ski and boat/trailer, but we STRONGLY
recommend all clients take out insurance. Your jet ski or boat will be shipped across the Pacific
Ocean and during the voyage the ship may be subject to the worst weather imaginable. Some
industry experts believe that between 2,000 and 10,000 containers are lost over the side of ships
every year and many will have seen examples of that in the media, or in photos like these:
We would highlight that the chance of damage to your item is very very low, and the chance of
total loss far lower again, BUT, there are always exceptions to the rule! We don’t want to ever see
a client suffer financially so please consider the importance of insurance. The shipping line/s and
Mainfreight do not automatically insure your jet ski or boat/cargo. The transport documents
involved in the shipping industry have obscure clauses that date back to the days of sail, and can
see you having to pay all charges, plus repairs to the ship, and still not get your cargo. These
instances are rare but they can and do happen. Marine Insurance can protect you and your
investment and will cover you for damage through to total loss.
We believe marine insurance for the transport of your jet ski or boat is as important as insurance
for your home/contents or your daily driver. We can arrange insurance through reputable brokers
at very competitive rates. Pease contact us for more information about insurance and how it can
protect you.
8) Registration in Australia - Trailers MUST be under 2.5m wide to register
Before your trailer can be registered it will, in 99% of cases, require some level of work to comply
with Australian design rules. Boat trailers MUST be under 2.5m wide to be registered here which
others may require brake systems to be fitted. This is an area you need to be aware of BEFORE
shipping. Each state has differing rules relating to the registration of imported jet ski or boat trailer.
We recommend you call us or visit the respective Department of Transport web site for your state
and to check what compliance issues or changes may need to be made to your trailer before
9) Shipping documents:
It’s very important that all documents are complete and correct BEFORE the ski/boat/trailer is
Following is a check list of the documents required for export from the USA and entry into
Australia. Please be sure you have checked off ALL these items:
A) Import approval for a trailer (if applicable) from Canberra.
B) Client information and Authority to Act forms authorising Mainfreight to act
on your behalf.
C) Shippers Export Declaration – provided by Kiwi LA to the shipper/previous
D) Bill of Sale – provided by the shipper/previous owner.
E) Copy of the photo ID page of your passport – Required for US Customs
export clearance.
F) Proof of Payment – credit card statement, bank transfer forms or other
proof supporting the price paid.
G) Insurance – confirmation if you will be arranging insurance, or if you want
Mainfreight to handle on your behalf.
H) Air conditioning certificate/s – where applicable.
I) Invoices and details of any costs involved prior to the jet ski or boat being
exported – these could be for transport or work done on the jet ski or boat
before it is shipped from the US.
J) Manifest for any parts/items being shipped and detailed invoices listing
each item.
Shipping process and time frames:
In shipping by sea from the USA there are 2 main options – containerised or roll-on-roll-off (ro/ro)
vessel. Jet skis and small boats are shipped in containers while larger boats and trailers are
shipped on the ro/ro vessels
Containerised: Your ski/boat/parts will be packed into a container in our Los Angeles depot,
along with other client’s cargo. During this part of the process our Los Angeles office will need the
documents listed ‘A’ through ‘E’ to meet US Customs export regulations. The Bill of Sale as well
as copies of the other documents are required by US Customs before they will clear a ski/boat for
export from the USA..
ON arrival of a containerised shipment it normally takes 7 - 10 working days to have the container
off the wharf, unpacked and cleared. Prior to the arrival of the ship we process the Customs and
AQIS entries and after the container is unpacked we arrange for inspection by AQIS, and if
ordered any cleaning required. Only at this stage will we be able to give you the final costing and
arrange payment from you before the ski/boat is released. Unpacking depots around Australia give
3 days’ free storage after AQIS release it, so the timing can be tight right at the end of the job.
Prompt payment and collection will ensure the depots don’t get storage from us both, which can
be very costly.
Ro/Ro: These are specialist vessels where the boat/trailer are towed onto the ship. This is
especially perfectly suited to boats and trailers that are too large to be loaded into containers.
There are ro/ro services off the West, East and Gulf coasts of the USA though rates and transit
times can vary dramatically.
After the ro/ro ship arrives in port it normally takes 1-3 working days to have the vessel unloaded
and the cargo ready for AQIS inspection which is done on the wharf. If the boat/trailer is cleared by
AQIS it can be collected from the wharf after we have received payment of the charges. However,
if it fails AQIS inspection it must be transported to the nearest AQIS cleaning facility for cleaning
and reinspection. These costs are not known at the time of the initial quotation and will be passed
on when if and when applicable. Depending on the boat/trailer and AQIS this could add an
additional week or more to the process. Like the containerised option the wharf only give 3 days
free time so its important that payment is received to reduce the risk of paying any storage, which
can be VERY costly.
These steps, if followed correctly will ensure that 99.9% of shipments are smooth and
What’s the cost? Where to now?
We hope all this information helps you understand the processes involved in shipping your jet ski
or boat/trailer from the USA to Australia. Being prepared and understanding the process will help
ensure the shipment is as smooth as possible, and reduce the risk of trouble or additional cost.
Now it’s time to contact us for specific pricing for your ski or boat/trailer and to run through the
questions you have after reading through these pages. Our contact details are:
Kiwi Shipping / Mainfreight Inc
1400 Glenn Curtiss Street
Carson CA 90746
Ph: + 1 310 900 1974
Steve Curle
email: [email protected]
Mobile: + 1 818 324 1767
Annie – admin
email: [email protected]
Matt –parts/LCL
email: [email protected]
11 Inghams Place
Hemmant QLD 4174
Phone: 3906 9890
Craig McRitchie
email: [email protected] or
Mobile: 0414 860 791 [email protected]
Borica Karan
email: [email protected] or
[email protected]
Thanks for taking the time to consider our company. We look forward to the opportunity to talk
about your particular shipment.
The information contained in this overview is to be used as a guide and is based on rules, regulations and information current at the
time of print. Regulations can and do change so we ask that you confirm details with us before shipment.