How to import brewing equipment into your country
Importing BREWHA equipment into your country can seem intimidating when one approaches it for the first time. But while there are a few steps to take, and of course, a few fees, it is relatively simple and straightforward.
The intent of this article is to dispel some of the mystery around the steps needed for importing and give you confidence going forward. While the steps and fees are based on our domestic model (ie. importing into Canada), most countries will have something very similar. If your experience is different, please let us know and we will add your country's details at the bottom. Here are the steps for importing:
1. We ship to you. Once purchased, we assemble and ship the equipment out. In most cases the goods will travel 'LCL' (Less than Container Load). This means that the container traveling to your country will be shared with other company's goods. (Small orders may occasionally be shipped by air but this is not common as the expense is normally a lot higher, and most air cargo has height restrictions which limit the vessels being shipped. Otherwise the procedures are the same though.)
With LCL we use a local transport company to deliver your pallet or crates to a warehouse near the port where it is loaded with other goods into a container. It normally takes 1-2 weeks from the time it leaves our warehouse until the time it is on a ship, ready to sail. We look after the local transport, and the export declaration fee on our end. The container is loaded on a ship and travels to your nearest major port. Time to arrive is 3-6 weeks, the longer end of that if the container goes through an intermediary port where it is transferred to a second vessel (or train).
2. Your import/customs broker clears the shipment into your country. Paperwork (shipping manifest, packing list and invoice) should be available about 1-2 weeks after the ship sails and you should forward those documents to your local import/customs broker. (An online search will show there are many local ones to choose from. Finding a good—helpful and knowledgeable—broker is important as they will help guide you. Generally the good ones aren't the cheapest but you will get a sense just by speaking with them.) Broker fees are normally about $100 per shipment for infrequent users and terminal fees are about $200. The HS tariff code which your broker will use to clear the goods is 8438.40 (beer brewing machinery). You will pay the broker fee, terminal fee and any duty and taxes before the container arrives. (Increasingly under 'free trade' agreements like the one Canada just signed with the EU and is close to signing with the Pacific region, there aren't any duties applied. And while there can be goods and services or VAT taxes, often as a business, you are able to reclaim most or all of this since you are using the equipment to produce a 'saleable' good (ie. beer) that will be taxed at point of sale. If you search online for 'importing commercial goods into xxxx', or 'importing beer brewing machinery into xxxx' insert your country's name, you can find info on what is required.)
If the government decides they want to inspect the goods in the container (doesn't happen very often) you will have to pay a fee for this. The government doesn't normally charge for the inspection, but the local transport company and warehouse who bring the container to a special inspection facility, unload it for inspection, reload it after inspection, and return it to the port do charge. We pay about $2000-2500 for the complete container inspection. If your shipment is only a part of that container, you only pay a portion. For example, each container can hold about 20 pallets or 5BBL crates so if you just have two crates, you portion would be about 10% of that.
Once the container has cleared customs and is offloaded from the ship (this generally only takes 1-2 days once the ship is at berth) it is brought to a local 'destuffing' warehouse who removes all the goods from the container. The warehouse charges about $50 for this service and needs to be paid before they release the goods for pickup.
3. You arrange for local delivery. In most cases, you can arrange to either pick up the equipment from this warehouse yourself, or have a local transport company pick it up and deliver it to you. If you pick it up, you will take the clearance paperwork and manifest showing the cargo control number with you. If you have a transport company pick up for you, they will need to know the cargo control number and the warehouse will need to know the name of the transport company whom they should release the goods to. When arranging a transport company, if you don't have a dock or a forklift, you will need one that has a lift gate on their truck to lower the crates/pallets to the ground. (Since the 7BBL crates are close to 5' long, and most lift gates are only 4', you will either need a forklift or an extra large lift gate.)
And that is it! Your equipment should be on your doorstep, ready to set up and start brewing!
Australia: has strict rules (now) around introducing plant/animal species so the container your shipment is one will need to be fumigated which will add an additional fee relative to the shipment size, similar to the inspection fee.
France has a VAT tax; I am told that there may be a way to avoid that.
Japan has strict commercial food laws so find out ahead of time how to do this so you don't have to watch customs officials pitch some of your equipment in the garbage. We have a distributor in Japan who will help you.