5368.0.55.018 - Information Paper: Experimental Statistics on International Shipping Container Movements, 2009-10  
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This section provides a broad overview of the methodology used by Customs and Border Protection to provide the ABS with a dataset for compiling shipping container movement statistics. For further detail please refer to the Methodology and Data Quality section in the Explanatory Notes.

Customs and Border Protection and the Biosecurity Services Group in the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service are responsible for the risk management of all imported and exported cargo and the interception of high risk and prohibited items. As part of this process Customs and Border Protection collects certain data about sea cargo and the containers used to import, export, tranship and transit sea cargo through Australian ports.

It is the responsibility of shipping companies or their agents to provide Customs and Border Protection with information about the cargo carried onboard vessels arriving and departing Australia on international voyages. Information about the cargo is reported to Customs and Border Protection via the Integrated Cargo System (ICS).

A number of reports are lodged by the vessel's operator and the container terminal operator (CTO) or Stevedore, including Impending Arrival and Actual Arrival reports, Cargo reports and Progressive Discharge reports. Each of these cargo reports serves a specific purpose and therefore contains different data items but some data items are common between the reports (for example, vessel ID, voyage number, and port of discharge) and can be used to link the reports. The reports are designed to provide details about the cargo, its journey and the different entities involved in its movement. The reports are crucial to the process of assessing risk associated with the cargo before it arrives and link to an import declaration enabling clearance of the cargo once it has been discharged in Australia. Customs and Border Protection requires the lowest level bill or "ultimate consignee" information to accurately risk assess and clear goods. Multiple reports for the same vessel, voyage and container details are referred to as 'cascade' reporting.

Details in the Import Declaration, including supplier, importer, commodity, value and weight information, are used to finalise any revenue that is required to be paid before release from Customs control. For imported cargo, information including vessel ID, voyage number, arrival/discharge port, cargo type, cargo gross and net weight and container number, size and type is provided on the Sea Cargo Report and other information about the imported goods is provided in the Import Declaration. For exported cargo, information including port and State of departure, ship's name, gross and net tonnage of the exported goods, destination port and country and departure date is provided in the Aircraft/Ship Outward Manifest and other information about the exported goods is provided in the export declaration.

Customs and Border Protection used a subset of the information from the cargo reports and import declarations to produce the dataset provided to the ABS. The main source document used by Customs and Border Protection to derive container counts was the Sea Cargo Report with the Delivery Postcode and Commodity (tariff classification number) items sourced from the Formal Clearance documents (Import Declaration).

The basis of this dataset is a count of each unique instance of a given container, at a given time, which has arrived in (or departed from) an Australian port from (or to) an overseas port. This unique instance is identified by creating a vessel voyage container number (VVC), which consists of Vessel Identification plus Voyage Number plus Container Number. These elements are defined as:

  • Vessel Identification is the unique Lloyds identifier of the arriving vessel.
  • Voyage Number is the vessel operator's voyage number for the current journey to Australia.
  • Container Number is a unique identifier assigned by the sea cargo industry to a receptacle used to group individual items or packages into a single larger unit load.

While the number of containers is available from the import documentation, the field can include both the TEU and other container sizes as shown in Table 1.

Table 1 Container Size

Code Size Description Metric Size

2008 20 x 8 Shipping container that is 20 feet long by 8 feet wide by 8 feet high. 6.1 metres x 2.4 metres
2095 20 x 8 x 9.5 Shipping container that is 20 feet long by 8 feet wide by 9.5 feet high. 6.1 metres x 2.4 metres x 2.9 metres
4008 40 x 8 Shipping container that is 40 feet long by 8 feet wide by 8 feet high. 12.2 metres x 2.4 metres
0000 OTHER All other container sizes that are not covered by another code.

Source: Australian Customs and Border Protection

The 20 x 8 container size equates to TEU. The 20 x 8 x 9.5 and 40.8 container sizes can be converted to TEUs. Factors have been created and applied to convert containers of the 'OTHER' unspecified size to TEUs.

A container can include one or more commodities which can have one or more delivery postcodes. If the container (a 1 TEU container) includes two commodities (A and B) and the commodities are delivered to a single postcode (1234), the count of 1 unique container would be proportioned between the commodities based on their Customs value. The following table (table 2) shows how this example would be recorded in the dataset provided by Customs and Border Security.

Table 2 - An example of how Container Counts are derived

Customs Value
Delivery postcode
Container Count

10 000
5 000
15 000

The container in this example would contribute to the aggregate statistics produced as 1 container being delivered to postcode 1234 with part of a container being used for commodity A and part for commodity B.