The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Forestry controls exports of agricultural products. This assures our trading partners that Australian agricultural products meet import requirements.
Efficient regulation of exports is the cornerstone of Australia’s reputation as an excellent source of reliable agricultural exports.
The department’s responsibilities and powers are defined in the Export Control Act 2020, Export Control Rules and associated legislation. We recover the cost of providing export services through export fees and charges.
New to agricultural exports?
Understand the steps for exporting goods out of Australia and your responsibilities depending on the product and your role in the export process.
Commodities controlled by the department
Export commodities controlled by the department are listed or ‘prescribed’ in the legislation. Prescribed goods—or goods included in a class of prescribed goods—include:
- milk and milk products
- eggs and egg products
- fish and fish products
- live animals
- meat and meat products
- poultry meat and poultry meat products
- rabbit and ratite meat and rabbit and ratite meat products
- wild game meat and wild game meat products
- organic products
- plants and plant products
- wood and woodchips.
Why some products are prescribed in the legislation and others are not
The objective of the legislation is to enable trade by ensuring that export commodities meet importing country requirements and are fit for purpose. If the commodity is a food, it must be:
- fit for human consumption
- accurately described and labelled
- fully traceable, if necessary.
The legislation sets out the list of requirements that must be met by an exporter before prescribed goods can be exported from Australia. Non-prescribed goods are not required to meet these requirements to be exported. However, where required to meet importing country requirements the department can issue export certification for non-prescribed goods.
The main types of non-prescribed goods are:
- animal by-products (such as rendered products, blood products and skins and hides)
- animal feed and pet food
- processed foods
Some animal or plant by-products may be exempt from government control under the legislation, such as:
- fish oil for manufacturing or pharmaceutical purposes
- fish meal for pet food
A separate Export Control Rule exists for each type of prescribed good (for example, the Export Control (Meat and Meat Products) Rules 2021). These specific commodity Rules set out the specifications to be used when determining if a particular product should be deemed as a prescribed good under each commodity type.
Preparing to export a prescribed commodity
For prescribed products, the Export Control legislation defines the compliance requirements for export businesses.
For the export of live animals please refer to Exporting Live Animals.
Registering an establishment
To prepare or store prescribed goods for export, you need to register an establishment. An establishment is the physical premises or fishing vessel that contains these goods.
You must register your establishment so you can carry out operations within it under the Export Control Act 2020.
Your establishment must meet Australian and importing country requirements. It must do this before it can export prescribed goods overseas. Your establishment must have suitable:
- work practises
- food safety systems.
We audit export operations carried out in registered establishments. We do this to make sure they meet export legal requirements.
You can apply for an Approved arrangement at the same time you register. Once your establishment is registered, it can handle export goods.
Livestock export establishments
You can't use the Export Service to register a livestock establishment yet. This will change in the future.
For more information on how to register a livestock establishment, go to Registered establishments.
Listing an establishment
Your importing country may also need your establishment to be export-listed. An establishment can be export listed for prescribed or non-prescribed goods.
For more information, go to Export listed establishments.
Fit and proper person test
People participating in Australia’s export industry are subject to an integrity test called the fit and proper person test when applying for export licences and other regulatory approvals.
Compliance with relevant standards
Your establishment and the operations that you conduct in that establishment must meet minimum standards, including export standards and importing country requirements.
Compliance with the standards in the export legislation will enable you to access many international markets.
Importing country requirements
Some trading partners place additional requirements on establishments that want to export to them. See importing country requirements on Micor.
For example, the European Union requires that hormone growth promotants (HGPs) or oestradiol and its ester-like derivatives are never used on cattle intended to produce meat products for European markets. The European Union also requires that these cattle have life time segregation from all other cattle. The department manages the European Union Cattle Accreditation Scheme (EUCAS) to enable establishments to meet this requirement.
An importing country may impose a requirement for listing. This means that the importing country will maintain a list of establishments that are allowed to export to them. In some cases, importing countries will expect the establishment to be successfully audited by their own officials. The department regularly hosts delegations of international officials conducting audits on establishments that want to export to these markets.
An arrangement documents how a registered establishment will meet its export legal requirements. It becomes an Approved Arrangement (AA) after we approve it.
An AA applies to establishments (including fishing vessels) involved in the export of:
There are different requirements for livestock AAs.
Plant export-registered establishments don’t have AAs. When you apply to register an establishment to export plant goods, you need to document the establishment's:
- location, structure and layout
- hygiene, waste management and pest control
- operations and functions.
See the Plant Export Operations Manual for what you need to document for plant exports.
Applying for an approved arrangement
We charge a fee to apply for an AA and other related activities – see our Charging Guidelines 2022.
Documentation of export consignments
Exporters of meat, fish, dairy, eggs, grain, horticulture, skins and hides, wool and meat by-products, such as pharmaceuticals, blood and pet food, use electronic certification and may generate their own health certificates and related documents by registering as an Export Documentation System (EXDOC) Electronic Data Interface (EDI) user.
When exporters also register for the Single Electronic Window (SEW), EXDOC can generate an export declaration number (EDN) necessary for Integrated Cargo System clearance, to streamline the export process.
Specific requirements for certain commodities
Meat export licence
If you export beef, sheep or goat meat, you must obtain a meat export licence.
European Union Cattle Accreditation Scheme (EUCAS)
Beef exported from Australia to the European Union (EU) must be sourced from farm or feedlot properties and saleyards accredited by the department under the European Cattle Accreditation Scheme (EUCAS).
Certificate for the export of timber or timber products to Indonesia
Indonesian importers may request Australian exporters to prove the legality of certain timber regulated by the Indonesian Government. This can be achieved by applying for a certificate of export.