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you don’t need to be physically present. You can buy a digital certificate from Verisign that allows you access to the customs online clearance software. It costs about $200 and lasts 2 years (yes, I have cleared many myself).

Customs are really helpful (well Michael in Syd is).

You will need to pay around $400 in landing fees (regardless of who clears the shipment), along with customs duty and gst (if applicable). If you can’t get to the port to pick up yourself (you only have a couple of days to do this before they start charging you storage), you will need to organise a forwarder to collect on your behalf and get them all the relevant clearance documentation before pick up.