How to import musical instruments & equipment to Australia

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For businesses and musicians who are unsure of how to bring musical instruments and equipment into Australia, the process can seem intimidating. Importing these items brings with it a complex set of rules and regulations that require careful attention to detail in order for everything to go smoothly.

Australia is widely regarded as a musical mecca with its emergence as a popular concert and musical festival venue over the years. As musical attractions and venues continue to grow in Australia, so too do the challenges associated with shipping musical instruments, accessories and equipment. From musical groups such as 5 Seconds of Summer, Troye Sivan, Tones & I and Sia to the countless music festivals across the country each year, musical exports play a crucial role in ensuring the Australian music scene continues to thrive. 

This guide seeks to address some of the important considerations when packing and importing musical instruments and equipment needed for a concert. These may range from instruments such as guitars or violins to bulky items like amplifiers and speakers – all of which need special care during transportation to ensure they remain in their best condition before hitting one of Australia’s world-renowned musical stages.

Tips for packing musical instruments & equipment for import

Planning for the shipping of musical instruments & equipment can be intimidating and challenging. However, with the right preparation, you will have a pleasant experience. 

1. Make sure you have a durable instrument & equipment case

Before entrusting musical instruments & equipment to DHL Express, it is imperative that they are packed properly and with extra care. Utilising strong, durable instrument and equipment cases will help keep them secure, hide their contents and reduce the chances of theft, so examine each case to make sure it is in good condition. More importantly, it offers another layer of protection within the packing crate. 

2. Utilise cushioning material and choose the right sized box or crate

Make sure to use a lot of soft materials to protect the musical instruments or equipment. This could be bubble wrap, newspaper or cloth. Put the instrument or equipment, usually in its case, inside a box or crate that is the right size. This will help keep it from moving around too much while it is being transported. Consider storing bulky items such as amplifiers or speakers on pallets for easier transport too. It is best to use plastic packing crates for items that need to be kept at a specific temperature. This is especially true for stringed instruments such as guitars or violins.

3. Be aware of vulnerable areas and take steps to protect your musical instruments

For instance, when shipping stringed instruments such as guitars, violins, double bass, mandolins, it is extremely important to loosen the strings prior to packing. The temperature may change during shipping and cause the strings to snap or damage the neck. Be sure to wrap the neck in extra cloth or bubble wrap. Also, pack all small, loose parts, such as tremolo arms or capos, separately to prevent them from scratching the instrument. Put padding between the fretboard and strings for additional protection. 

Finally, wrap the whole instrument in bubble wrap before putting it into its case. You can buy a guitar-shaped packing case, or you can use a packing crate or guitar shipping box with around a 6 cm gap between the instrument case and the crate. Fill the gap with bubble wrap to stop the instrument case from moving around in transit. For more detailed information about how to ship specific instruments, explore our guide on how to ship other instruments, such as drums, brass and wind instruments.

4. Label your items clearly

When transporting musical equipment and instruments, it is important to properly label the package to avoid confusion and delays. Take proactive measures by ensuring that each package contains clear handling instruction labels for transport. Having Up Arrows on a package can indicate the direction of storage, handling, and transport. Adding ‘Fragile and Handle with Care’ labels will prevent mishandling and slinging of the musical equipment, which could cause damage. A ‘Keep Dry’ label is advised for packages containing musical instruments to ensure they are shielded against excessive humidity and stored under cover. These extra steps serve as crucial safeguards when shipping musical equipment and instruments, guaranteeing their safe delivery. Follow our packaging guide to understand how best to pack your instruments.

How to ensure your musical instruments & equipment clear customs smoothly

1. Ensure wooden instruments & equipment are clean and make a declaration

All musical instruments and musical-related equipment made of wood, bamboo, or any related materials must adhere to import conditions when entering Australia, in accordance with regulations set by the Department Of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. This includes items sent as passenger luggage, sent via mail or courier service, or even via freight. Before importing, musical instruments and equipment should be free from bark, soil, and insects, so always double-check for sawdust or holes, which may indicate the presence of pests. 

Any wooden, bamboo or related items that are brought into Australia must be declared to a department officer upon arrival. If the items are being imported through cargo, they must be clearly labelled with the contents of the parcel, box, or commercial invoice (if applicable). You will also need to provide a detailed packing list that outlines what the furniture is made of (e.g., if you have a guitar, you must declare what it is made up of, for example, ‘wooden guitar’). Items will be checked by a departmental officer when they arrive. This is to make sure there is no biosecurity risk material (such as insect infestation and bark). If biosecurity risk materials are found during the inspection, then your products will not be allowed to go through.

2. Pay the relevant duties and taxes

When musical equipment valued over AU$1,000 is imported into Australia, a number of charges and taxes will be applicable. Alongside duties and taxes, an import processing charge must also be paid. This is the case even when concessions or exemptions apply to the goods in question. To clear musical equipment valued above AU$1,000 for entry into Australia, an Import Declaration (N10) and Warehouse Declaration (N20) may also need to be completed.

Import musical instruments & equipment safely with DHL Express

Moving instruments and equipment overseas can be a daunting task, but with careful planning and the right partner, it doesn’t have to be. DHL Express has years of international experience shipping musical instruments and equipment around the world, so we know how to get your gear where it needs to go – quickly, securely, and hassle-free. Open a business account with DHL Express today to ensure your musical instruments & equipment reach their destination on time and in one piece. For more information, read the DHL Express musical instruments guide.