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.

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

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Step 1. Prepare an operations and governance manual

Applicants must prepare an operations and governance manual to submit with their application.

The operations and governance manual sets out how the export livestock business will operate and be governed, including information on:

The manual must be version-controlled, and include each species and mode of transport (by sea or air) for which the applicant wishes to be licensed. The Department of Agriculture has published ‘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:

  • operations and governance manual
  • financial statement
  • AFP criminal history check
  • Completed credit card payment form authorising the application charge (see below).
An assessing officer from the Live Animal Export Branch 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 your application is incomplete, you will be contacted by an assessor to request the information your application is missing. Once your application is complete, you should allow 40 business days for your application to be assessed.

Frequently asked questions

Is there a licence application charge?

There is a licence application charge which the applicant must pay at the time of submitting the application. The application charge may be paid by credit card.

For full details of the Live Animal Export charges, see the department’s charging guidelines.

Are there any other fees associated with obtaining an export licence?

If the licence is granted,  livestock exporters that do not hold an approved arrangement are charged an annual levy for an export licence.

Non-payment of any invoiced charges may result in withdrawal of services being provided to clients.

For full details of the Live Animal Export charges, see the department’s charging guidelines.

How long is a livestock export licence valid for?

A livestock export licence is valid for a period of between 1 year and 5 years. The period is to be determined by the department after consideration of the information provided for assessment. You will receive confirmation of the period that your livestock export license is valid once the approval is granted.

How do I get access to the TRACE online system

The department grants licence-holders access to the TRACE online system for lodging and managing Notices of Intention, Consignment Risk Management Plans and Exporter Supply Chain Assurance Systems when it sends applicants a notice of granting a livestock export licence.

How do I renew a licence?

Livestock export licences are valid for a period of between 1 year and 5 years.

The procedure for licence renewal is identical to that for the initial application for a licence and the licence application charge will apply. The department normally advises the exporter of licence renewal requirements and procedures before the licence expiry date.

Applicants for renewal of a licence should allow 40 business days for the department to assess a complete and accurate application.

However, due to complexities that may arise during the assessment of an application, additional time may be required to complete the assessment.

How do I vary a licence?

A licence-holder may apply to vary the particulars of a licence, such as:

  • operations and governance manual
  • species permitted to be exported under the licence
  • mode of transport
  • person in management and control
  • business details such as ABN, partnership details, contact details.

Licence-holders who wish to vary their licence must complete the ‘Variation to Livestock Export Licence' form and submit it to the department's Live Animal Export Branch national office.

Applicants requesting the variation of a licence should allow 40 business days for the department to assess a complete and accurate application. However, due to complexities that may arise during the assessment of an application, additional time may be required to complete the assessment.

Is there a licence variation application charge?

There is a licence variation application charge which the applicant must pay at the time of submitting the application. The variation application charge may be paid by credit card.

For full details of the Live Animal Export charges, see the department’s charging guidelines.

Does the department audit licence holders?

The department may do a desk audit or operational audit of a licence-holder, either as part of a pre-determined schedule of audits, or in response to an incident or non-compliance. The department charges a time-based audit fee per quarter-hour or part thereof to undertake an audit. An invoice will be issued once the audit is completed.

For full details of the Live Animal Export charges, see the department’s charging guidelines.