Obtaining a licence

​The Export Control Act 1982 states that a livestock exporter must hold a livestock export licence issued under the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997 and the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry (Export Licensing) Regulations 1998. The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is responsible for issuing a livestock export licences if an application for a licence meets criteria for issue that are set out in the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry (Export Licensing) Regulations 1998.

Livestock species include cattle, sheep, goats, buffalo, deer and camelids.

To obtain a livestock export licence, the applicant must apply in writing, provide an audited financial statement and provide an Australian Federal Police criminal history check for each person to be listed in management and control of the licence.

In addition, the application is not taken to have been made and assessment of the application will not begin until the licence application charge is paid. The application charge may be paid by credit card. If the licence is granted, there is an annual fee payable. For full details of the Live Animal Export charges, see the department’s charging guidelines.

A livestock export licence is valid for a period of between one and five years. The period will be determined by the department after consideration of the information provided for assessment.

To renew or vary a licence please see the Licence renewal or variation page.

The information below outlines the steps to obtain a licence to export livestock. A licence applicant may be an individual or a corporation.

[expand all]

Step 1. Prepare an approved arrangement or an Operations and Governance manual

Applicants must prepare an approved arrangement or an operations and governance manual​ to submit with their application. Which document is submitted will determine the number of consignments and head of livestock the licence holder may export and the applicable fees and charges.

If an approved arrangement is submitted, the licence holder will be able to export an unlimited number of livestock over an unlimited number of consignments. The applicable annual licence fee will be $10 000 for export by air only, or $20 000 for export by sea, or sea and air.

If an operations and governance manual is submitted, the licence holder will not be able to export any animals without also submitting either an approved arrangement or applying for a small and infrequent exporter exemption. The applicable annual licence fee will be $25 000.

The Department of Agriculture has published Approved Arrangement Guidelines for the export of livestock and Guidelines for an operations and governance manual'to assist applicants.

Step 2. Prepare a financial statement

Applicants must include a financial statement with the application. The following two types of financial statement are acceptable:

  • an audited statement of the applicant’s assets and liabilities
  • an audited statement of the applicant’s profit and loss account

In assessing the application, the department looks for evidence that the applicant is financially viable.

Step 3. Obtain an Australian Federal Police (AFP) criminal history check

Applicants must obtain an AFP criminal history check for each person in management and control of the livestock export business.

Step 4. Submit an ‘Application for a livestock export licence’

Complete and return the ‘Application for a livestock export licence' to the Live Animal Export Branch national office, including the:

  • approved arrangement or operations and governance manual
  • financial statement
  • AFP criminal history check
  • Completed credit card payment form authorising the application charge.

An assessing officer from the department will contact the applicant if any changes are required to the manual, or if any other further information or clarification is required.
Applications are assessed at the national office in Canberra. The department will only assess complete applications. An application that is missing required information or needs clarification is considered an incomplete application. If the application is incomplete, the applicant will be contacted by an assessor to request the information the application is missing. Once the application is complete, please allow 40 business days from the date of payment of the application charge, for the application to be assessed.

For more information, please see the frequently asked questions​ page and if you can't find the answer to your question or have a general question or comment about exporting livestock please contact us. ​