Fastrans Blog


Shipping to Indonesia: Procedure, Costs, Customs

Shipping in general can often be complicated especially in terms of requirements and process. It is still relatively manual and a thorough understanding of the industry is still very much needed. More so when it comes to Indonesia.

A Bit About Indonesia

If you have never been to Indonesia, you’d be well served learning about the country and its culture. Then take the time to learn about the rules, regulations, and approval timelines, and the like pertaining to shipping to Indonesia to avoid surprises. You can learn about all the applicable regulations for your move by doing an online search.
You can also get useful advice from those who’ve actually moved to Indonesia, found in many expat forums.
The official language in Indonesia is Bahasa Indonesia, so you might have some difficulty finding information about shipping regulations.
Don’t worry, because in this guide we’ll discuss the customs rules and procedures in detail.
Of course you may also ask your relocation agent/forwarding agent for information. Note that agents usually only share information that’s relevant to your case.

Prohibited and Restricted Items

These items are prohibited and/or restricted.
  • Automobiles including cars, motorbikes, and any type of vehicle – Prohibited for all the non-diplomats and allowed only for diplomats of certain levels.
  • Food – Non-Perishable food is allowed to be imported in small quantities.
  • Pets – Rules for every type of pet differ. Some pets may be allowed with approval. Pets from non-rabies-free countries are forbidden from being brought to Indonesia. This detailed prohibited list indicates the requirements for bringing pets, including documentation about the pet’s country of origin. In addition to various certificates and approvals indicated in the list, the pets must be brought with supporting documentation including the pet’s passport and other documents pertaining to its vaccination and the quarantine procedure whereby the pet may get quarantined under government observation. The steps that need to be taken when moving a pet to Indonesia is discussed in another section in this guide.
  • Electronic items – Brand new electronic items are prohibited and only those that have been used for at least a year are allowed. There’s also usually a restriction on bringing large electronic items (such as a refrigerator, gas stove, and so on) per category.
  • Media storage items like CDs, VCDs, DVDs and the like – These are allowed to be brought in reasonable quantities and provided they do not contain politically sensitive or pornographic data.
  • Antiques, statues, and other decorative items – These may need to be examined and forwarded to the Indonesian Directorate of History and Archaeology to ensure that they are not being smuggled.
  • Drugs and medicines – Allowed to be brought into the country via shipments only and with the permission of BPOM (Badan Pengawas Obat dan Makanan Rakyat Indonesia), Indonesia’s food and drug administration and control authority.
  • Alcohol and other substances – Bringing alcohol and other recreational substances into the country is prohibited; exceptions apply for diplomats who can bring these items only in specified quantities.

Shipping Options

When it comes to shipping bulk or heavy cargo, ocean/sea freight is the best option. Sea freight is efficient and cost-effective. With proper guidance, you will be able to ship your heavy belongings with extreme ease.
Ocean freight is the most common mode of transport when shipping bulk items. In fact, ocean cargo comprises 90% of all cargo shipping in the world.
One disadvantage of ocean cargo is that it is slower when compared to the other modes of transport such as courier, standard air freight, express air freight, and others. But it is the most ideal option if you’re not in any hurry to ship your stuff.
Another advantage of ocean freight in addition to being the cheapest mode of transportation is that there are fewer restrictions on the kind of cargo that can be carried as compared to air freight.
Various international and local regulations, as well as the policies of the ocean/aviation carriers, clearly specify cargo that is considered inappropriate for shipping. Overall, the number of restricted products is fewer in the case of ocean freight. The decision to ship via air or ocean may be a function of total size/volume of cargo, immediate requirement, and so on. You may choose to ship your entire cargo via ocean except for the cargo that you need immediately on landing.
In such a case, you have two options:
  • Full Container Load (FCL)
  • Less than Container Load (LCL)
In the container sizes, you will get a choice between 20-footer and 40-footer containers. Your boxes may be measured in terms of cubic meter space within these containers.
FCL– FCL, as the term implies, is the shipment where an entire container is dedicated to your cargo, and it’s suited to opt for FCL if you are moving a significant amount of cargo.
LCL– LCL implies that the container is not completely filled with your cargo and may require some more cargo from other customers to fill it. Rather, opting for LCL is more suited to cases where you do not have a lot to ship, yet the cargo is large-sized enough to be expensive when shipped by air.
It is important to note that LCL will cost more than FCL per unit of freight. (I.e., freight per box of cargo). The shipping companies prefer taking more FCL contracts because they do not have to look for new customers in case the container is not completely filled — if the client has opted for FCL.
Thus, there might be cases where total LCL may be higher than the total FCL if the number of boxes being shipped is not optimal. Depending on the rate offered, the distance to be traveled and so on, this break-even point will change.
Further, the delivery of FCL is likely to happen quicker than LCL because entire cargo unloaded belongs to the single customers whereas, in the case of LCL, the shipping crew will spend some time grouping/sorting the cargo, processing documents of multiple customers, and so on.
One more benefit of LCL is that it allows you to split the shipment and send it in batches. This might be a good option for you if you want convenience. There is increased risk of damage and loss in the case of LCL.

Ships/Boats docked in Jakarta, Indonesia

Selecting Moving Companies

Depending on your personal needs such as volume and nature of cargo involved, amount of time that you might have at hand to deal with all the process, your comfort in dealing with officials and so on, you might decide to engage a relocation agent to carry out seamless relocation to Indonesia.
In the context of Indonesia, this is recommended. If you are not well versed in Bahasa Indonesia, you might want to consider relocating with the help of moving agents who will take care of this process end to end.
There can be various criteria for the selection of an appropriate relocation agent other than cost. It is important to compare the range of services provided while comparing prices.
While cost is an important aspect, it is dependent on several variables and has been dealt with independently in this guide. Cost apart, you might want to select on the basis of the following considerations:
  • An agent focused on delivering your cargo on time and safely. You need to check the track record and credentials of the agent. Internet reviews, especially those on the expat forums, might be a good starting point to do so.
  • An agent who is operational in Indonesia, either independently or through a tie-up with a local company acting as a receiving agent. In this case, you need to check the credentials and track record of the partner agent, too.
  • An agent that offers comprehensive services such as pre-move consultation, in-home survey, packing services, transport via agreed means, i.e., ocean freight, air transport as well as road transport, insurance tie-up, customs clearances, last-mile/doortodoor delivery and unpacking, shipment protection, long term storage of items you might want to keep in your home country.
  • An agent that offers add-on services like pet relocation, departure support, home search, etc.
Most agents offer a bouquet of these services and you will be given a choice to opt for the add-ons.

Freight Forwarder

If you have already engaged a moving company, then they will work in tandem with the freight forwarder for you and their quote will be inclusive of the freight forwarder’s charges.
A freight forwarder is essentially an intermediary between you and the carrier of cargo.
Freight forwarders provide a range of specialized services. They deal with shipping logistics, including documentation support, tracking shipments, obtaining permits, dealing with customs, and so on.
In case you’d want the credentials of your certified Freight Forwarder, you might want to call Fastrans Forwarding. Due to variables such as type and dimensions of the cargo, a standard blanket quote is usually not offered. But sometimes there are calculators on such sites and they might give you tentative quotes.
Mostly, however, you will find forms where you will be required to fill in the details to obtain the quotes.

Rates Calculation

The rates applicable may be offered on the basis of weight or volume. Usually, any weight within one ton is charged on the basis of per cubic meter (CBM) and over and above on the basis of weight.
CBM is calculated by multiplying the length, breadth/width and the height of the package. For example, dimensions of a box are 5.1 meters in length, 4.1 meters in width, and 3.1 meters in height. Thus, the volume will be 5.1 x 4.1 x 3.1 = 64.82 CBMs. If the rate per CBM being offered is USD 10, then the total cost of shipping this particular box will be USD 648.2 (64.82 x 10).

Dealing with Customs

All cargo, whether shipped via air or sea, undergo detailed customs examination. It is therefore important to understand the regulations regarding items allowed by the customs to be brought to Indonesia. If you have engaged with an international mover, this entire process will be handled by them and you won’t have to deal with the customs directly.

Port in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Dutiable/Restricted items

  • New items (unused and newly bought)
  • Items not listed on the inventory list
  • Medicines (prescription required)
  • Foodstuffs are allowed only in a reasonable quantity
  • Items such as CDs, DVDs, videotapes, Bluray discs/optical discs, books, etc. are subject to scrutiny and sponsorship — it is better to prepare a detailed list of titles/authors
  • Antiques
The presence of any dutiable/restricted/prohibited items in shipment will greatly delay clearance and increase charges considerably.

Custom Clearance timelines

A clean, clear consignment (without any documentation gaps or without any restricted/prohibited items) will take around 3-4 working days in case of air freight and 12-15 working days in case of sea freight.

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