What do the new laws do?

​The Illegal Logging Prohibition Act 2012 came into operation in November 2012.

Under the Act, it is a criminal offence to import illegally logged timber and timber products into Australia or to process domestically grown raw logs that have been illegally logged. This prohibition applies to all imported timber and timber products and all domestically grown logs processed in Australia.

‘Illegally logged’ is defined as timber harvested in contravention of laws in force in the place – whether or not in Australia – where the timber was harvested.

From 30 November 2014, if you import certain timber or timber products PDF icon PDF [404 KB]  Word [1.8 MB] into Australia or process domestically grown raw logs, you will need to assess and manage the risk that they have been illegally logged. This is known as carrying out ‘due diligence’.

If you are an importer, you will also be asked to make a declaration to Customs about your compliance with the due diligence requirements. This will be in the form of a Community Protection Question asked as part of the import declaration process.

Due diligence can be summarised as a four-step process:

  • Step 1. gathering information about the timber or timber product you are importing or processing
  • Step 2. if appropriate, using a Timber Legality Framework (Importers) PDF icon PDF [721 KB]  Word [2.7 MB] (Processors)PDF icon PDF [748 KB]  Word [2.5 MB], Country Specific Guideline PDF icon PDF [669 KB]  Word [2.4 MB] or State Specific Guideline PDF icon PDF [722 KB]  Word [2.5 MB] to help inform your decision making
  • Step 3. assessing the risk that the timber or timber product you are importing or processing has been illegally logged
  • Step 4. where necessary, undertaking extra steps to reduce the risk the timber you are importing or processing has been illegally logged.

More detailed guidance on the due diligence process can be found in the Due diligence – Guidance for importersPDF icon PDF [765 KB]  Word [2.6 MB] and Due diligence – Guidance for processors PDF icon PDF [792 KB]  Word [2.5 MB documents.

What happens if I don’t comply with the illegal logging laws?

We recognise that it will take some time for businesses to adjust to the new due diligence requirements. The government’s focus is on helping you to comply with these requirements. For the first 18 months, from 30 November 2014, we will not seek to ‘catch you out’ if you are trying to do the right thing. Our focus will be on providing information and guidance, cooperation and communication.

However, Australian businesses should be aware that, under the Act, significant criminal penalties may apply if they knowingly, intentionally or recklessly import or process illegally logged timber. While the penalties are ultimately at the discretion of a court, the maximum that can be applied for a breach of the Act are:

  • five years imprisonment, and/or
  • AUD$85,000 for an individual, and/or
  • AUD$425,000 for a corporation or body corporate.

If you need further information on how the laws operate and whether they affect your business, you can contact the department via:

  • phone during business hours (8.30am to 5.30pm) on 1800 657 313 or if outside of Australia +61 2 6272 3933
  • email illegal logging 
  • subscribe to the illegal logging mailing list​ to stay informed of the release of any new information or guidance materials or any upcoming information events
Last reviewed:
02 Nov 2015