Package forwarding from the US to Australia: A complete guide
If you've found something in an online store that doesn't ship to Australia, you need a parcel forwarding service to go the extra mile(s). We've got all the details on the major services as well as everything you need to know about getting those goodies to your door.
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When it comes to heading into bricks and mortar stores, Australians don't really have access to the variety of retail stores seen in the US. But thanks to globalisation, the growing popularity of online shopping and more packages making their way to Australia, prices are coming down down-under.
Overseas shipping is commonplace now, but for those companies or retailers that won't ship to our sunny shores, CNET has put together a handy guide on the major parcel shipping services, and what you need to know when it comes to shipping your purchases from the US.
When it comes to shipping boxes, you'll often see prices quoted for Cubic Weight (or Dimensional Weight). This measurement is calculated using the dimensions of a package and is designed to factor in the greater cost of shipping bulky items, even if they're not heavy. Some services will charge for whichever figure is higher out of the actual weight and the cubic weight -- so if you're shipping a big teddy bear, you'll be paying by volume, not mass.
How to calculate cubic (or dimensional) weight
Height x length x width ÷ 5,000 = cubic weight
For example: 50cm X 30cm X 40cm = 60,000cm³ ÷ 5,000 = 12kg cubic weight
Some US-based sites, such as MyUS, multiply dimensions in inches and then divide by 139 to calculate the final weight in pounds, but you'll get roughly the same figure when converted.
According to Australia Post, you don't need to file a US Customs declaration for orders below $2,500 in US dollars. If the goods cost more than this (look at you Mr Money Bags!) you'll need to fill out a Shipper's Export Declaration (SED) form to clear the parcel through US Customs. Most sites cover these details in their FAQ.
No matter which service you use, you might not be able to ship some items. These can include aerosols, matches, weapons, oils and flammable or toxic products, perishable items like food, and counterfeit goods.
Some websites only give you rates once you've entered your package details. To give you an idea of pricing for these services, we've compared costs on shipping a 3kg package (dimensions 30 x 20 x 10cm) to the Sydney metro area. Prices below are US Dollars, unless specified as AU$.