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What is Container Detention and What Are the Import and Export Costs?

Import and export shipping containers are used in bulk cargo transport. The containers are essential to the efficient flow of all import and export cargo movements. When the supplies of shipping containers during bulk cargo transport are delayed or are running slow, it slows down the entire supply chain of international cargo during import and export transactions. Shipping lines usually allow 10 days from when the containers are first made available for delivery. Late container returns create extra expense on the international transport community by the inefficient few. To alleviate the late return of bulk cargo transport containers, freight forwarders and shipping companies apply a late return detention charge. These rates apply to any late bulk cargo transport containers returned during import and export transactions.


What Shipping Documents Do I Need?

The shipping documents needed for import or export transactions usually depend on the type of goods. In many cases, the required shipping documents will also vary depending on the country of origin or destination. Thus, shipping documents may have to be prepared in a particular way to comply with the requirements of the letter of credit. Generally, a standard import or export transaction requires many shipping documents such as a commercial invoice, packing list, bill of lading and a Marine Insurance Certificate – depending on your Incoterms (International Commercial Terms). These terms should be indicated on the commercial invoice and other related corresponding shipping documents. This is arranged between buyer and the seller when negotiating the terms of the bulk cargo transport. Let our staff take care of all the shipping documents for you.

What Are Quarantine Requirements?

The Australian Quarantine Service has strict requirements for the import or export of cargo. These requirements are very strict and must be adhered to. Breaches of quarantine not only incur stiff fines, but they may threaten Australian flora and fauna, and primary produce industries.

For example, a breach of quarantine during any import or export transactions that resulted in the establishment of a major disease like foot-and-mouth would devastate Australian sheep, cattle and pig industries. We recommend you contact the Australian Quarantine Service directly for further information on your particular requirements. Otherwise, give one of our consultants a call. We are happy to help with all related shipping documents.

How Do I Get Faster Clearance of Freight Containers?

Australia needs your help to protect its important agricultural industries and unique natural environment from exotic pests and diseases. By meeting quarantine requirements and correctly filling out import and export shipping documents you will ensure the fastest clearance of containers and help Australia keep out exotic pests and diseases. You can clear freight containers quicker by following these steps:


  • Determine if you need an import permit before shipping goods to Australia.
  • Depending on what you’re bringing into Australia you’ll have to meet certain import conditions. The Australian import and export conditions are available on the import conditions database (ICON) or from your local AQIS office. (Note: cargo and packing materials in containers are cleared through quarantine separately).
  • Provide AQIS with a packing declaration to facilitate clearance of containers. The packing declaration should provide details of container cleanliness and whether straw and timber have been used as packing materials. If you don’t provide this information on your shipping documents the container will have to be opened and inspected at an AQIS approved premises.
  • If a container has to be directed to an AQIS approved premises for unpacking and inspection, delays will occur and costs will be involved.
  • Ensure your container is free of contamination by soil, grain, snails or plant and animal material. The inside and outside of the container should be cleaned before shipment to help facilitate clearance on arrival in Australia. A cleanliness declaration is required for all containerised cargo imported into Australia. All contaminated bulk cargo transport containers and cargo detected entering Australia are treated before release.
  • Have all timber used as packaging in the container treated by an AQIS approved method. If timber dunnage has been used in the loading of the containerised cargo, accredited persons must have a valid treatment certificate to satisfy AQIS clearance requirements. Timber must also be free of bark.
  • Offshore treatments may facilitate faster clearance of the packing component of the cargo container. However, an AQIS approved treatment provider must perform the treatment.
  • Use acceptable alternative packing materials such as synthetic foam, plastics, metal frames, inflated dunnage, woodwool, shredded paper, and other similar materials. This must be specified on shipping documents. 
  • Be aware that serious pest and diseases exotic to Australia could be introduced into Australia on containers, cargo and packing. Thorough inspections for these pests and diseases are carried out on consignments from high risk countries.


  • Don’t use straw packing. It’s prohibited. Straw could carry insects and diseases exotic to Australia. Containers in which straw, rice hulls or similar plant materials have been used as packing has to be unpacked at an AQIS approved premises and the straw removed for treatment or destruction at the importer’s expense.
  • Don’t pack your goods in fruit, vegetable, meat or egg cartons or second-hand bags. These pose a high risk because they could carry pests and diseases. These types of cartons and bags will be removed and destroyed under quarantine supervision.
  • Don’t use timber with bark attached. Bark is prohibited and needs to be removed and destroyed.

Some of the most commonly imported goods that must be inspected are:

  • Agricultural machinery
  • Motor vehicles
  • Bamboo and straw articles
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Canned meats
  • Rice
  • Cheese
  • Scrap metal
  • Foodstuffs, coffee beans
  • Skins fruit — dried or fresh
  • Herbs and spices
  • Stock foods — plant and animal
  • Household and personal effects
  • Matting — straw and seagrass
  • Vegetables — dried and fresh
  • Mining equipment

Cargo subject to quarantine inspection includes:

  • Unprocessed agricultural produce
  • Timber including articles made of timber or that have timber included in the manufacture, such as footwear with wooden heels or wedges
  • Articles of straw Goods likely to be contaminated – especially with soil and animal and plant material, such as vehicles and machinery


We take care of import and export cargo freight for clients in Australia and overseas. Call us at ASR Logistics on (03) 9398 1810.

56 Kooringa Way,

Port Melbourne VIC 3207 Australia

(03) 9398 1810