For well over a century, quarantine has played a critical role in reducing the risk and shaping our nation to become one of the few countries in the world to remain free from the world’s most severe pests and diseases.
While our geographical isolation has played a key role in maintaining this status, our isolation as an island nation is rapidly changing as the barriers of time and distance become less relevant as international travel and trade increase. The Australian Quarantine Service has strict laws and requirements for the importing or exporting of cargo .
Any breeches of quarantine regulations not only incur stiff fines, but they may threaten Australia's flora and fauna, and primary produce industries.
Presently the quarantine controls in place at Australia’s borders minimize the risk of exotic pests and diseases entering Australia and protects our $32 billion agriculture export industries as well as our unique environment, native flora and fauna, our tourism industries and lifestyle.
Faster clearance of your freight containers
Australia needs your help to protect its important agricultural industries and unique natural environment from exotic pests and diseases. By meeting quarantine requirements you will ensure the fastest clearance of containers and help Australia keep out exotic pests and diseases.
You can clear freight containers quicker by following these steps:
- Determine if you need an import permit before shipping goods to Australia.
- Depending on what you’re bringing into Australia you’ll have to meet certain import conditions. The Australian import conditions are available on the import conditions database (ICON) or from your local AQIS office. (Note: cargo and packing materials in containers are cleared through quarantine separately).
- Provide AQIS with a packing declaration to facilitate clearance of containers. The packing declaration should provide details of container cleanliness and whether straw and timber have been used as packing materials. If you don’t provide this information the container will have to be opened and inspected at an AQIS approved premises.
- If a container has to be directed to an AQIS approved premises for unpacking and inspection, delays will occur and costs will be involved.
- Ensure your container is free of contamination by soil, grain, snails or plant and animal material. The inside and outside of the container should be cleaned before shipment to help facilitate clearance on arrival in Australia. A cleanliness declaration is required for all containerised cargo imported into Australia. All contaminated containers and cargo detected entering Australia are treated before release.
- Have all timber used as packaging in the container treated by an Aqis approved method. If timber dunnage has been used in the loading of the containerised cargo, accredited persons must have a valid treatment certificate to satisfy AQIS clearance requirements. Timber must also be free of bark.
- Offshore treatments may facilitate faster clearance of the packing component of the cargo container.
However, an Aqis approved Treatment provider must perform the treatment.
- Use acceptable alternative packing materials such as synthetic foam, plastics, metal frames, inflated dunnage, woodwool, shredded paper, and other similar materials.
- Be aware that serious pest and diseases exotic to Australia could be introduced into Australia on containers, cargo and packing. Thorough inspections for these pests and diseases are carried out on consignments from high risk countries.
- Don’t use straw packing. It’s prohibited. Straw could carry insects and diseases exotic to Australia. Containers in which straw, rice hulls or similar plant materials have been used as packing has to be unpacked at a AQIS approved premises and the straw removed for treatment or destruction at the importer's expense.
- Don’t pack your goods in fruit, vegetable, meat or egg cartons or second-hand bags. These pose a high risk because they could carry pests and diseases. These types of cartons and bags will be removed and destroyed under quarantine supervision.
- Don’t use timber with bark attached. Bark is prohibited and needs to be removed and destroyed.
Some of the most commonly imported goods that must be inspected are:
- agricultural machinery
- motor vehicles
- bamboo and straw articles
- nuts and seeds
- canned meats
- scrap metal
- foodstuffs, coffee beans
- skins fruit — dried or fresh
- herbs and spices
- stock foods — plant and animal
- household and personal effects
- matting — straw and seagrass
- vegetables — dried and fresh
- mining equipment
Cargo subject to quarantine inspection includes:
- Unprocessed agricultural produce
- Timber including articles made of timber or that have timber included in the manufacture, such as footwear with wooden heels or wedges
- Articles of straw Goods likely to be contaminated - especially with soil and animal and plant material, such as vehicles and machinery.