Moving goods to, from and within Torres Strait

​​​​​​​​​Torres Strait islands are a potential pathway for the movement of exotic pests, weeds and diseases present in countries very close to Australia—the closest Torres Strait Island of Saibai is only 3.6 km from Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Biosecurity in Torres Strait is critically important to the sustainability of the region.

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Moving goods from PNG to the Torres Strait Protected Zone

The Torres Strait Treaty 1985 allows traditional movement of people and trade between the 13 PNG treaty villages and the Torres Strait islands within the Protected Zone. The Biosecurity Act 2015 manages the biosecurity risk by restricting the movement of goods.

Traditional vessels and goods from the PNG are exempt from standard pre-arrival reporting and first point of entry requirements when travelling between PNG and the Torres Strait Protected Zone. However, goods and vessels are still inspected to ensure compliance with biosecurity regulations.

Moving goods from the Torres Strait Protected Zone to the Torres Strait Permanent Biosecurity Monitoring Zone, or from either zone to the mainland

Torres Strait has special biosecurity requirements that prohibit the southward movement of the following products between the Torres Strait Protected Zone to the Torres Strait Permanent Biosecurity Monitoring Zone, and any Torres Strait islands to mainland Australia.

  • fresh fruit and vegetables
  • live animals, including insects
  • live plants, including cuttings, seedlings or plant products
  • soil
  • used machinery and equipment with animal, plant material or soil contamination
  • untreated hides or skins or other animal products
  • meat or dairy products (excluding canned items)
  • poultry products, including eggs or feathers with skin still attached

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These goods may only be moved with a permit from us.

​​​​​​Biosecurity laws prohibit the movement of goods subject to import conditions without a permit. We regulate the movement of goods and issue permits when appropriate.

Map of the Torres Strait biosecurity zones
Map of Torres Strait protected and special quarantine zones

Torres Strait is divided into two zones with particular biosecurity conditions that apply to movement of goods between each zone.

Moving goods, machinery and vehicles from the Torres Strait Protected Zone to the Torres Strait Permanent Biosecurity Monitoring Zone, or from either zone to the mainland

If you are moving machinery, vehicles or other goods south from the Torres Strait Protected Zone into the Torres Strait Permanent Biosecurity Monitoring Zone, or from either zone to mainland Australia, you must:

  • ensure your goods are free from soil or any plant or animal material
  • remove potential water reservoirs, including buckets and other containers—these can provide a potential breeding site for exotic mosquitoes that can carry disease
  • arrange for a biosecurity officer to inspect your goods, machinery or vehicle before it leaves the island. If there is no officer present at the point of departure, contact the Thursday Island office on 07 4212 0185. You may need to arrange an inspection at the port of arrival.

Information for vessels and aircraft travelling from Torres Strait to the Australian mainland

Biosecurity laws and regulations apply to ALL vessels and individuals carrying goods subject to import conditions, no matter what form of transport they use.

For more information on the requirements for vessels over seven metres travelling from Torres Strait to the Australian mainland visit Shipping and yachting in Torres Strait.

For more information on the requirements for aircrafts travelling from Torres Strait to the Australian mainland visit aircraft arriving on mainland Australia from the Torres Strait

Moving restricted items from the Torres Strait Protected Zone or the Torres Strait permanent biosecurity monitoring zone

Use the flow chart below when you want to move items south from the Torres Strait Protected Zone into the Torres Strait Permanent Biosecurity Monitoring Zone, or from either zone to mainland Australia.

Moving Torres Strait biosecurity zone flowchart 

What do you want to move?

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Live animals (cats and dogs only)

Cats and dogs require a permit to move between the Torres Strait Protected Zone to the Torres Strait permanent biosecurity monitoring zone and from either of these zones to mainland Australia.

The owner of the cat or dog must:

  • complete and submit an application for permit to move goods online and lodged 7 days prior to departure. When applying for a permit, the owner must provide details of the animal’s origin and health
  • treat the dog/cat prior to inspection with a registered product effective against fleas and ticks as, per the manufacturer’s label. You will need to provide evidence of the use of this product such as a receipt, product packaging or a letter from your veterinarian
  • arrange an appointment for the dog/cat to be inspected by a biosecurity officer on the island of departure within 5 days of departure.

Live animals (vertebrates, excluding cats and dogs)

All live animals, except live fish, require a permit to move between the Torres Strait Protected Zone to the Torres Strait permanent biosecurity monitoring zone and from either of these zones to mainland Australia.

The owner of an animal (such as birds, reptiles, guinea pigs), should:

  • complete and submit an application for permit to move goods online and lodged 7 days prior to departure
  • arrange an appointment for the animal to be inspected by a biosecurity officer on the island of departure within 5 days of departure.

Live fish (excluding those from PNG)

Live fish do not require a movement permit but, prior to movement, both the fish and any packaging must be inspected by a biosecurity officer for biosecurity risk material (such as plant material).

Note: this does not apply to live fish from PNG. For live fish from PNG refer to the Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON).

Live insects (specimens and products)

The southward movement of live insects (including viable insect products) from the Torres Strait Protected Zone to the Torres Strait permanent biosecurity monitoring zone or from either of these zones to mainland Australia is restricted (that is prohibited without a permit). A permit to move goods may be issued on a case by case basis if the biosecurity risk(s) can be appropriately managed.

An application for permit to move goods must be completed and lodged at least 7 days prior to departure.

Dead animals (specimens and products)

The southward movement of all animals and animal products from the Torres Strait Protected Zone to the Torres Strait permanent biosecurity monitoring zone or from either of these zones to mainland Australia is restricted (that is prohibited without a permit). This restriction applies to scientific specimens and any material of animal origin. Some goods may be moved without a permit, as long as they are presented for inspection by a biosecurity officer prior to movement and are clean and free of other biosecurity risk material.

An application for permit to move goods may be completed online and lodged 7 days prior to departure.

Dead insects (specimens and products)

Dead insects and non-viable insect products do not require a movement permit but, prior to movement, both the insects and any packaging associated with them must be inspected by a biosecurity officer to ensure that the specimens are dead and free of other biosecurity risk material (such as plant material).

Dead bees of the genus Apis do not require a movement permit if preserved in 70 per cent ethanol, 10 per cent formalin or a minimum of 2 per cent gluteraldehyde. Prior to movement, both the bees and any packaging associated with them must be inspected by a biosecurity officer to ensure that the specimens are dead, preserved appropriately and free of other biosecurity risk material (such as plant material).

Live plants and plant materials (including fruit and vegetables)

The southward movement of plant material from the Torres Strait Protected Zone to the Torres Strait Permanent Biosecurity Monitoring Zone, or from either zone to mainland Australia, requires a permit. A permit to move live plants will only be issued if the biosecurity risk can be appropriately managed.

An application for permit to move goods (such as plant, animal and soil products) from Torres Strait may be completed online and lodged 7 days prior to departure

Dead plants (plant products and herbarium specimens)

The southward movement of dead plants and herbarium material from the Torres Strait Protected Zone to the Torres Strait permanent biosecurity monitoring zone or from either of these zones to mainland Australia requires a permit and, where possible, treatment in Torres Strait prior to movement.

An application for permit to move goods (such as plant, animal and soil products) from Torres Strait must be completed and lodged at least 7 days prior to departure.

Soil samples

The removal of soil from the Torres Strait Protected Zone to the Torres Strait permanent biosecurity monitoring zone or from either of those zones to mainland Australia is restricted (that is prohibited without a permit). Soil samples that have been granted a permit can only be moved to a Torres Strait Approved Treatment Facility; for example soil laboratory.

An application for permit to move goods (such as plant, animal and soil products) from Torres Strait may be completed online and lodged 7 days prior to departure.

All approved permits for soil samples are for one consignment only.

Moving Goods to the Torres Strait

On 1 July 2016, new Queensland Biosecurity legislation came into force. These new laws under the Queensland Biosecurity Act 2014 include a “general biosecurity obligation.” This means that you are responsible for managing biosecurity risks that are under your control, that you know about or should be reasonably expected to know about. You must take all practical steps to avoid moving something that could carry a pest, disease or contaminant (e.g. animals, plants, soil, equipment) moving north or south.

Further information

Permit applications are completed on line. If you have any questions please contact our Thursday Island office or the Cairns office on the details listed below..

OfficeEmailPhone
Thursday Island, Torres Strait Thursday Island07 4212 0185
Cairns NAQS07 4241 7800
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