Cargo examinations – A cost of business

The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) x-ray approx 101,500 TEU (twenty equivalent units) a year, and physically examine 14,000 TEU a year nationally. Containers are held by Customs once shipment details are risk assessed – containers will be held and screened based on customs profiling which also includes a percentage of random assessments. According to Section 186 of the Customs Act 1901 this provides ACBPS with the power to examine any goods subject to its control.

EES Shipping  have recently been in contact with Australian Customs (ACBPS) in relation to the amount of time an import container was held for inspection. The particular container was held for 13 days, which is considerably longer than most shipments (average is three days).

Due to the length of time taken, the importer was charged demurrage by the shipping line (most lines allowing 10 free days for containers to be emptied and returned). EES approached ACBPS for reimbursement but the request was denied. Customs stated that the importers should allow for any additional costs for inspections as a cost of business.

ACBPS are essentially advising all importers (via their agents) that in order to protect the Australian community and our borders these measures are in place and they carry a cost to the importer as well as the final consumer. Importers should presume that a small proportion of cargo will be delayed by the inspection process and it is in their best interest to make allowance for this in their internal business processes.

Importers should also factor in additional time for:

  • cargo to be cleared
  • delays in getting access to cargo
  • the possibility of extra charges into the logistics process.

To the importer these delays and costs are a burden but the ACBPS advise that the wider community has benefited from the early detection of very significant detections of illicit drugs, revenue evasion, weapons and other prohibited imports.

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