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Australian Customs and Quarantine (AQIS) requirements for Importing Boats
Boats on trailers & non motorised vessels
This page was last updated on Saturday, 02 November 2013 01:02:16 AM

NB: We are not the Australian Government we are private company that happens to be involved in international shipping, Australian customs clearance and marine insurance.

What do we do:
Well your job is to find the boat and or trailer
You apply for import permit for the trailer
You send us email supplying all your details, your sellers details and a heads up on the boat you are buying.
We will send an introduction email to our overseas representatives and copy you and your seller in so that everybody is formally introduced, then we step back and let the overseas seller and our overseas rep talk ling-ling, wing-wing in their own time zone.
Our rep will come back to you and advise methodology and price so you don't have to wait for us to get back into the office, very straight forward and you send money direct to the Buyer for purchase and money direct to our overseas rep for all the overseas logistics and ocean freight.
Our job is to provide you with Marine Insurance so if you have an issue you pick up the phone and get us and not some Indian call centre plus when your pride and joy arrives we do the Australian Customs and A.Q.I.S clearance and you pay us.

So easy, its not funny.

Firstly .... Import Permit for Trailers & Vehicles
You are required to obtain an import permit from the Federal Department of Infrastructure for Boats on trailers
You do not need an import permit if boat comes on a cradle
If you are going to get a wooden/timber cradle made make sure the timber is treated timber and is stamped accordingly with ISPM 15 and that you have treatment certificate.

Secondly .... Import Duty & G.S.T
If boat is NZ or USA made you will NOT pay Import Duty but you have to pay G.S.T
(NZ as per C.E.R agreement signed between former prime ministers Muldoon and Frasier)
Or America under Free Trade Agreement signed off by Bush and Howard

All other countries You will have to pay Australian Import Duty and G.S.T.

Australian Import Duty is 5 % on vessels / boats under 150 m/t Gross Construction Weight
Over 150 m/t Gross Construction Weight DUTY FREE

If your vessel / boat is classified as a commercial venture to generate income you can claim back the GST

The Australian Customs Department have set the Duty Rate at 5% and G.S.T 10% on the landed price in Australia (landed price means purchase price, ocean freight and 1/4 of 1 % for Marine Insurance even though you may not have take out insurance) ... You have a product that can be sold in Australia that's why you pay Import Duty and G.S.T to Australian Customs via us when we do the Customs Clearance.

For the umpteen thousand time a boat or boat on trailer or vehicle is not classified as Personal Effects or for Personal Use unless you have owned and used said item for more than 12 months (the magic words are owned and used so that means you have been living overseas for more than 12 months and you can show you owned and used said boat, trailer or vehicle for more than 12 months overseas. Now having said that you have owned and used boat, trailer and vehicle for more than 12 months you will still pay Import Duty and G.S.T.

Thirdly .... Air-conditioning and or Refrigeration
The Australian Federal Government are still looking at ways of making money over the climate change bullshit in Copenhagen so they are going to milk you for an import permit. So they set up this mob will want to charge you a) A$3,000.00 for multiply items to be imported within a set time or A$400.00 for one off item. Originally everybody had R12 Gas (CFC) and then came along R134A (HCFC) now they found something that else that should be used for air-conditioning and or refrigeration.

We recommend you get your boat dealer or a third party who is involved in air-conditioning and or refrigeration to inspect said boat and write an inspection report on their letterhead stating NO air- conditioning or refrigeration found on this boat or said boat was degassed and said unit was removed.

But just let me say you will need an import permit from Ozone before we present documents to Australian Customs. Get onto this Ozone mob and get clarity before you purchase your boat.

Fourthly .... Australian Quarantine (A.Q.I.S) Wood or Timber

This is where you get smacked pretty hard with Quarantine inspection charges per 1/2 hour
Wood or timber can refer to decking, trim, the aft floor board which is often removable so you can flush out the bung holes

You need to make sure your said boat (your pride and joy) arrives in Australia schmick, clean, virginal, above reproach otherwise you have moved passed the first wife who has taken you for 50 % off your hard worked assets, you didn't see the second wife (can you remember her name) she got you for 25 % and the third who is lining up for the 12.5 % .... so just to make my point A.Q.I.S is every one of those wives rolled into one .... suffice to say you should put one vacuumed packed transparent condom over your boat.

If your boat is an open boat been shipped on our car ship or on a flat rack, do your self a favour and get industrial strength transparent glad wrap and cover the boat. Why! So that any potential thief can see you've got nothing worth stealing and will not cut a hole or tear the wrapping to have a look.
When it turns up in Australia, A.Q.I.S can see that the boat is clean free of debris and pass your boat.
If you have used a tarpaulin or boat cover quite often they have been tampered with which means debris has found its way inside the boat and you will be up for wharf storage, cleaning and A.Q.I.S re-inspections
For a ball park costing try the set up costs for first term semester at University.

If your boat can be packed inside 20ft or 40ft general purpose fully enclosed container then you don't need to wrap it however if you have used timber or wood for bracing / packing and the boat has timber trim. Do yourself a favour and get the container with the boat inside fumigated and get it done overseas before it goes to the overseas wharf.
This will speed up the Australian quarantine clearance.

Five.... Anti Terrorism Legislation (or what we call the Shappelle Corby 4.1 ounces of marijuana legislation)

You can not go on the Australian waterfront to a) deliver your boat or vehicle or container or b) attend customs or A.Q.I.S inspection or pick up your boat or vehicle or container unless you have your M.I.S.C (Maritime Identification Security Card) which gets issued by A.S.I.O (Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) and A.F.P Australian Federal Police) all this for 4.1 ounces of marijuana.

You can get escorted onto the wharf by someone who has their MISC card but this is a long and convoluted process so you will have to sit this one out and realise that their are forces in the universe that don't want mankind to be responsible, thoughtful and accountable for their own actions.

If A.Q.I.S knock back your boat for a steam clean, fumigation, waste disposal or whatever you can expect a 3 and 1/2 week wait on the East Coast of Australia and 8 weeks in Fremantle (West Coast of Australia) . If you stay on the wharf the storage costs will take the oxygen out of your lungs, you will feel nausea and light heading as if you are climbing in the rarified air of Mount Everest .... the bottom line is you will have to pay the wharf before they release your boat or vehicle and even then you can't get on the wharf because you don't have an MISC card, talk about getting hemorrhoids.

We suggest the following alternative .... that is to get a Customs under bond entry, book a transport company who is registered with the wharf and whose drivers have their MISC cards (you will have to pay for 2 days wharf storage) and get your boat, trailer & vehicle off to one of the local bond stores who have A.Q.I.S approved wash bay facilities. The bond stores live in the real world even though your boat, trailer & vehicle will have to wait 3 and 1/2 weeks (East Coast Australia) once it's been washed you can come down for the A.Q.I.S re-inspection (bond stores operated by Patricks and P&OTA will not let in until the unit is Customs and A.Q.I.S cleared) so you need to get the fair dickum Aussie bond store operators as they seem to grasp the fact that your kids have finally left home at 28 years old and this is your baby and you want to see it as soon as possible so you can get an understanding where all your new found wealth went to (hello, I suddenly have money after all these years).

Once A.Q.I.S have signed off you will have to wait an hour or two for it come through on the ICS electronic system so you are best to go off and get a cuppa tea, coffee or something and then come back with dealer plates or road permit or your own truck so you can drive out the bond stores gate.
If you have your wits about you and the A.Q.I.S officer has his/her manual stamp you can ask the A.Q.I.S officer to stamp and sign the A.Q.I.S Direction. This is considered a manual clearance you will be required to present this to the delivery clerk at the bond store. (Note: some depots will not play the game and will ask you to wait till the clearance comes through electronically)

Sixth .... Brand New Boats Vs Second Hand Boats

A brand new boat is one that was manufactured, built and shipped out of the overseas country within 60 days.

The Commercial Invoice and Packing List will have to show the manufacturing or production date and our ships bill of lading or waybill will have the date the ship left the overseas port. In other words its grade 1 mathematics you subtract one from the other to establish 60 day's.

Now having a brand new boat is a wise choice and will make it that much easier when it comes to Quarantine inspections. A.Q.I.S will suddenly go from been your ex-wife's lawyer ie.. they will take their foot off your throat so that you actually grasp the reality that you can finally breathe and will get your boat within days without any more money coming out of your pocket .. hooray for small mercies.

Actually probably spoke to soon .. you will need to pay for the transport company to go into the wharf to get your boat (remember the Shappelle Corby 4.1 ounces of marijuana anti-terrorism legislation that basically gave the whole shipping industry (importers, exporters, custom brokers, transport, shipping, fumigation companies and insurance assessors) a paranormal headache.

For the USA Market

If you get hooked on the internet seeing those so called magical cheap prices on boats in America
Do your self a favour the quickest way for a heads up price without annoying us and thereby saving your marriage is to get the Internet listed boat price and x (times) by 3 (three) that should cover the purchase price, internal transport within USA, packing 20ft or 40ft container, USA Customs Clearance, cartage to USA wharf, USA stevedoring, ocean freight, Fuel levy, Australian stevedoring, cartage, unpacking, Australian Customs and Quarantine (AQIS) clearance and GST.
And for our middle eastern Australian's (Sydney slang for the good folk from Lebanon) who tell me adfinitum, Ooooh matee I brought a boat for a US$1.00 so will you ship it for US$3.00 well I am pleased that you got your boat on special from Toys R Us just for you so do yourself a favour and put a postage stamp on it and post it. And that goes for fella's who say they can buy a 30ft boat for US$2,000.00 get a life will you .. a boat of that length means a beam (width) greater than 8ft (2.4 m) so its not going to get in a 40ft container so no way can you apply the x 3 (three times) rule.

The Australian dollar is getting stronger against the US$ so when the Aussie dollar starts going over US$1.00 then the 3 (three) times rule starts dropping to 2.5

If you purchase your boat in USA from a registered business, great ... because they can state said boat is American made and they can issue the Free Trade Certificate (FTA) certificate of origin (required as per Australian / USA free trade agreement) ......... No Import Duty, I shall repeat that: No Import Duty. The boat dealer will work in with our USA shipping rep who will give you the FTA certificate of origin or explain how you can secure one.

E Bay customers please don't bother talking to or emailing us .. the American E Bay sellers do not work or operate in the same business hours as our American Shipping representatives, (E Bay sellers work after hours or in weekends) American E Bay seller expect you or us to pick up your boat, trailer or vehicle from their location, E Bay sellers are known to charge you storage while you wait the mandatory 28 days for your boat trailer import permit to come through from Australia's Dept of Infrastructure.

We will not ship your boat on trailer or trailer or vehicle until you send us a copy of the Dept of Infrastructure Import Permit by email or fax ..  the bottom line is we don't need the agro and temper tantrums when it arrives in Australia because you don't have the Import Permit ... your choice is to pay the wharf storage which is equivalent to ongoing divorce and alimony costs or you will be told in no uncertain terms by Customs via the Dept of Infrastructure to ship it out of Australia say to PNG or NZ ... you can not take it to the dump, scrap yard or join the bottom of the harbour tax avoidance schemes, although having said that you could netherless make it a 50/50 deduction when you come to the divorce .. You and I mean You, can pay for costs to ship it out of the country and re-apply for another Import permit .. your choice is Papua New Guinea, New Zealand or since your goods are now untouchable, you might as well ship it to the French Nuclear testing site at Moruroa Atoll and join all the other unmentionable hot items ....... So you have been told, get the Import Permit so don't come whinging to us.

America do not have our container swing lift trucking system that drives out to your nominated premises and places said shipping container on the ground, leaves and comes back a couple of days later to pick up the full container. So you will have to make arrangements to work with our American Shipping agents to transport your pride and joy to one of our nominated container packing depots in America (and NO you can not come into our American depots and pack your vehicle or boat unless you are member of the Longshoreman's union) if you wish to use / pack our shipping container you will have to find another location that's got container forklifts or whatever it is you need.

It costs $130,000.00 to bring a ship into port and $20,000.00 a day so we are not going to do a milk run around all the ports of USA just for you. So listen up.

Container Ships that go direct to Australia East Coast ports (Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne) go in and out of:
West Coast Ports: Los Angeles (also known as Long Beach), San Francisco, Seattle or Tacoma (they alternate between these ports) and Vancouver BC.
East Coast Ports: New York, Philadelphia, Norfolk, Savannah

The USA have a major intermodal rail/road network so if you happen to find Noah's Ark in Montana after the great flood you can truck your pride and joy to the nearest intermodal hub, get it flat packed at the nearest container depot and rail it to one of the nominated ports for shipping to Australia.

Western Australian Buyers ... you are going to do it tough, there is no direct container shipping service from USA to Fremantle. You will have to work with our USA representative and they will use a trans-shipping service via Asia most often Singapore.

Right then, lets talk containers sizes as a rule of thumb the 6 m (20ft) container internal measurement at the container door is 5.85 m long x 2.25 m wide x 2.35 m high a 12 m (40ft) internals are 11.9 m long x 2.25 m wide x 2.35 m high

So if your boat can not go inside the container your next option is the Car Ships (so you will need a trailer or cradle)

Car Ships that go direct to Australian ports (Brisbane, Port Kembla, Melbourne and Fremantle) go in and out of
West Coast Ports: Los Angeles and Grays Harbour
East Coast Ports: Baltimore and Savannah

There is a trans-shipment Car Ship service to Australia
West Coast Ports: Los Angeles to Panama and then to Australia
East Coast Ports: New York, Baltimore and Jacksonville via Africa


The BIG Tip about dealing with American's .... They do not answer emails, they are a phone culture and they have no idea of world time. So set your phone to go direct to your voice mail message that's say's "Hi Chuck, it's night time in Australia so speak to the phone and tell me your phone number"

Now if you happen to pick up a girlfriend between your wives get her to leave a very sexy seductive voice mail message ... "Hi Chucky, your aussie mate is spending some time with me tonight so leave your phone number so I can ring you back."

I can tell you with an aussie woman's voice on your answering machine the Americans will be ringing you in normal business hours.

Remember .... Americans do not answer emails


For the New Zealand Market

The Car Ships only go from Auckland to Brisbane, Port Kembla, Melbourne and Fremantle

Container Ships call into Auckland, The Mount (Tauranga) Napier, Wellington, Lyttelton (Christchurch) Port Chalmers (Dunedin) Nelson and come to Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle


For the UK / Europe Market

The Car Ships go from Southampton, Bremerhaven, Antwerp to Brisbane, Port Kembla, Melbourne and Fremantle

Container Ships call into the UK Ports of Felixstowe, Tilbury, Thamesport, Southampton:
European Ports Hamburg, Rotterdam, Antwerp:
trans-shipment container services operate for Dublin, Oslo, Gothenburg, Turku Copenhagen, Lisbon, Barcelona, Marseilles, Le Harve, La Spezia, Genoa, Pireaus, Valletta, Koper via Asia either Singapore, Port Kelang


So now that you have read everything and you are a full book on the subject Go ahead and click here for on-line quote

For Commercial Importers

If you wish to import boats as a commercial business operation .. that's fine .. you just pay all the costs and charges as they fall due in the logistical chain.

You can bring as many new boats as you like.

For Personal Importers

For folk who are migrating to Australia and wish to state they have owned and used said boat on trailer for more than 12 months and want to say its personal effects ... You are essentially doing this to get the import permit for the trailer.

It doesn't really matter whether it comes under Personal Imports or Commercial Imports you still pay Import Duty (except USA /NZ made) and G.S.T.

Vessels of a kind designed principally for use in sheltered waters for sport or recreation, being vessels conforming to one of the following specifications
1 Boats of a kind propelled by manual or pedal power
2 Sailing Boats that
  Do not exceed 1,000 kilograms unladen weight
  Do not incorporate any device for propelling the boat by power for example an auxiliary motor
  Are not of the deep keel type
3 Powered boats that
a Do not exceed 7 metres in length overall
b Do not exceed 2.5 metres in width at any section and
c Do not exceed 1,250 kilograms unladen weight when imported with driving units and transmissions or 800 kilograms unladen weight when imported
1 Only one article selected from each of the three groups listed above will be allowed per family per 3 years
2 In each case an officer of customs shall be satisfied that
a The arriving person has come to Australia with the intention of forthwith taking up or resuming permanent residency
b The goods have been for the whole of the period of 12 months immediately proceeding the arriving person's
departure for Australia, personally owned and used overseas by the arriving person
3 In respect of a vessel specified in group C security shall be given by the arriving person to and to the satisfaction of an officer of customs that the goods will not be sold or otherwise disposed of in Australia by or behalf of the arriving person, within 2 years after the date of its entry for home consumption