Importing bulk grain for stockfeed and milling

Australia has strict requirements and a long-established policy to ensure that imports of bulk grain do not compromise our vital biosecurity status.

Imported bulk grain poses a high biosecurity risk. It can provide a direct pathway for exotic pests and diseases that can harm humans, animals, crops and the environment.

Diseases that can be spread through stockfeed include:

If introduced, they could devastate our livestock industries, have a significant impact on our grains industries, harm the natural environment and damage Australia’s reputation as an exporter.

Managing the biosecurity risks

Our decision to approve an import permit for bulk grain is based solely on whether the biosecurity risks can be managed. If the risks cannot be managed, imports will not be permitted.

The conditions imposed by the import permit ensure biosecurity risks are managed along the entire import pathway, from the farm to the processing plant in Australia.

Multiple critical control points must be in place throughout the import pathway to manage the risks.

A summary of the requirements that an importer must comply with along an import pathway include:

  • sourcing from a country with low plant and animal risk
  • using clean export pathways, from the farm to the point of loading (grain elevators and transport units)
  • being free from quarantine pests and animal material
  • being securely transported onshore to control the leakage of grain or dust during transport, from the point of discharge through to the point of processing
  • storing and processing under biosecurity control at a facility authorised by the department as an approved arrangement
  • processing using specific time and temperature requirements to mitigate plant and animal biosecurity risks.

If an importer is found to not comply with the import permit conditions, the import permit and approved arrangement can be suspended or revoked, or enforcement action can be undertaken.

Read our media statement for more details on the risk management requirements for bulk grain imports.

Applying to import

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Before you apply

  • check our importing bulk grain guideline to see what you need to supply with your application. The guideline includes an outline of the processes involved in importing bulk grain and the requirements for the management of risks associated with grain following entry into Australia
  • contact us for advice on eligible countries and  pathways.

Apply for a permit

To apply for a permit you must:

When we receive your application, we will:

  • undertake an initial country health status assessment
  • check all information is supplied
  • assess the application and undertake a desk audit
  • conduct a readiness site inspection
  • complete a site audit of the proposed onshore import pathway including any approved arrangements and the proximity of these to agricultural areas
  • advise you of the outcome of our assessment
  • provide a draft copy of the permit with a request for details of the vessel proposed to carry the consignment
  • approve the vessel
  • issue the permit.

We will only assess your application when you have supplied all required information.

Audit process

Desk audit

Takes approximately 2 weeks, if all required information is supplied.

Our auditors check that facilities are managing biosecurity risks to acceptable levels. Areas we audit include:

  • country biosecurity status
  • crop production methods
  • pre-discharge hygiene
  • transport
  • storage
  • post-production integrity to limit contamination
  • export loading pathways
  • processing method (temperatures and duration)
  • waste management
  • emergency recovery procedures.

Onsite audit

Typically takes 1- 3 days:

We audit the onshore part of the import pathway to confirm the pathway is working using domestic grain.

Importer pays all associated costs.

If we find no non-conformances, we will issue a draft import permit. Following issuance of the permit we may inform domestic stakeholders of the import, excluding any confidential information.

If we find non-conformances, you will need to remedy them and provide evidence they have been fixed. We may need to conduct another audit as part of this process.

Assessment outcome

If we approve your application, we will send you a draft import permit with conditions that need to be met.

When you accept the draft and agree to the conditions you will be issued a permit. The permit will be issued for the shipment of grain only. Further shipments of grain will require new permits.

We will only issue a permit if we are confident the biosecurity risks can be managed. This includes ensuring the importer is adequately prepared to respond to an accident or breakdown of a vehicle transporting imported grain.

Onshore, we conduct inspections to verify that the conditions of the permit are being complied with. We also require the importer to provide us with regular weight reconciliations and processing records to show that there have been no spillages, and that the grains are being used as specified in the permit.

Verification inspections will be undertaken by a biosecurity officer and we may require the importer to take measures to manage any biosecurity risks we find during the verification inspections.  We may also refuse to allow the shipment to be discharged, require corrective actions to be taken or greater departmental supervision of the shipment along the import pathway.

Serious non-compliances may result in the import permit and approved arrangement being suspended or revoked, or enforcement action including civil or criminal prosecution.

We also survey for pests of biosecurity concern at the port precinct, along the transport route and at the approved arrangement sites as part of the national border surveillance program.


All time spent assessing an import permit (including desk audits) is cost recovered.

There is a scheduled fee of $120 (electronic lodgement) plus a $360 assessment fee. The assessment fee covers the first 3 hours of your assessment. Extra assessment time is charged at $40 per ¼ hour.

See our charging guidelines for more details.

To minimise assessment charges, please ensure all the information you provide is accurate.

You will be responsible for some or all of the costs associated with any site inspection. For overseas site inspections, this includes airfares, accommodation, meals and fee for service costs.

Status of current applications

As of 8 July 2019, the department had received 13 applications to import bulk grain from the USA and Canada. The applications cover canola, wheat, corn, and sorghum.

Five permits have been issued for imports of bulk wheat from Canada. The other applications are in varying stages of assessment.

Read the permit conditions we’ve set for imports of bulk wheat from Canada.

Managing confidential information

The decision to import grain is a commercial decision by the importer.

Information that is collected under or in accordance with the Biosecurity Act 2015, including for import permits, is considered protected information under the Act and the Privacy Act 1988.

This means that we can only use or disclose this information as authorised under these laws, restricting who we can disclose this information to and for what purpose.

It is not the department’s practice to provide to the public commercial information that has been provided in confidence to the department.

The department handles personal information in accordance with its privacy policy and obligations.

More information

Need help?

Email the Imports team or call 1800 900 090.