How do I know if I need an import permit?
Check the Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON). This database lists the Biosecurity conditions under which various commodities may be imported into Australia. If an import permit is required, or if any other specific conditions apply, BICON will specify this. The information available on BICON is the same information that the Department’s border staff use when inspecting and clearing goods arriving into Australia. It is therefore essential that importers refer to this database regularly to keep up to date with any changes to import conditions.
What do I do with my import permit when I get it?
When you receive your import permit, please read it carefully to ensure you understand all the conditions. The import permit will dictate conditions under which the product may enter Australia. It is important that the importer reads these conditions before importing.
Can you give my import permit application priority?
The Animal and Biological Imports Branch receives hundreds of import permit applications each day. The department treats each application equally and processes applications in the order that they are received.
The department is not able to expedite a permit assessment unless there is an exceptional circumstance such as a medical emergency or major shortage of a critical product (for example for diagnostic purposes). If you have an urgent import permit application, please notify the department as soon as possible.
The department is not releasing my goods. Why not?
If the department has not released your goods, it could be for several reasons. It may be that an import permit and/or other documentation is required, or the product may be required to undergo post-entry treatment or inspection. If in doubt, check the Biosecurity Import Conditions System (BICON) for current import conditions. Even if an import permit is not required, there may still be conditions required for importation.
If you are still not sure why your goods are being held, email the Biosecurity Import Support Team (BIST) or call 1800 900 090 or + 61 3 8318 6700 outside Australia (option 1, option 1). When you do so, please have available a reference number for your consignment (e.g. entry number or seizure notice). If your goods are handled by a freight clearance agent or air courier (e.g. FedEx, TNT, UPS, etc.), you should ask them to provide you with the biosecurity direction, or specific BICON condition that applies to your goods.
Does my product need to be kept at an Approved Arrangement site (AA)?
AA sites are registered for the storage, use or further processing of high-risk goods. Examples of biological goods that may require containment at an AA site include: highly pathogenic/exotic microorganisms; samples for laboratory analysis (food, water, soil, etc); and agricultural goods requiring further processing. Your import permit will specify if your goods need to be held at an AA, and the class of the AA required.Further information about AAs can be found here Approved arrangements.
How do I transfer material between AA sites?
Goods that must be contained at an AA site may not be moved to another AA unless prior written approval is obtained from the department. For transfer of biological products between AA sites, an Application for transfer of biosecurity material must be submitted to the Animal and Biological Imports Program. Where a permit lists a class of AA or multiple AAs, goods can be transferred between AAs of the same class or between the AAs listed on the permit.
How do I apply to repurpose my goods?
Goods that were imported in accordance with the Quarantine Act 1908 or the Biosecurity Act 2015 under a valid import permit may be subject to end use restrictions. Importers must comply with the conditions stipulated on their import permit.
To apply for approval to use the imported goods differently (other than the permitted end use), an Application to change the end use of imported biological goods must be submitted to the department.
Can someone else take my import permit to clear the product?
An import permit is the financial and legal responsibility of the importer. It cannot be borrowed, hired, lent, or given to another party. The documentation on imported goods (importer details, exporter details) must correspond exactly to those listed on the permit. If in doubt, email the Biosecurity Import Support Team (BIST) or call 1800 900 090 or + 61 3 8318 6700 outside Australia (option 1,option 1).
What does it cost to have my goods inspected/tested?
There are a number of different types of inspection, testing and treatments that the department uses to mitigate potential biosecurity risks. A general guide to the costs involved is available from the fees and charges section of the website. If you are still having difficulty working out the costs, call 1800 900 090 (+ 61 3 8318 6700 outside Australia).
Where and how do I get government certification?
Government Veterinary Certification or Government Health Certification is issued by the government of the exporting country unless a valid import permit or BICON case states otherwise. In order to obtain this certification, you will need to contact the relevant government authority in that country. The local embassy or consulate of your exporting country will be able to provide you with further details of their export authorities.
Please note, the country of export is the country from which goods are sent to another country.
What if I'm just bringing samples or small quantities for my company/buyers to try? Do I still need a permit for these?
Commercial samples are treated in the same manner as commercial quantities. This means that they will be subject to the 'commercial' conditions as specified on BICON. If in doubt, email the Biosecurity Import Support Team (BIST) or call 1800 900 090 or + 61 3 8318 6700 outside Australia (option 1, option 1).
Import Permit Application Process
How long does it take to receive my import permit after submitting an application?
Most import permits will be issued within 20 working days of completed applications being received and paid for in full.
Applications may take longer if:
- they require complex technical assessment
- incomplete or incorrect information is provided by the applicant
- additional information is required to undertake the assessment (applicants will be notified of this by the assessing officers. You do not need to take any further action unless advised)
- it is a novel good (product) or has been prepared in a novel manner
You will be notified of the outcome of the assessment once complete.
How much does it cost for an import permit?
For information on the cost of import permit applications, please refer to the webpage Charges for import permits.
When do I need to pay for my import permit?
Payment should accompany your application form. Your application will not be processed until all the requested payment has been received.
How can I pay for my import permit?
You can pay for your permit application in BICON when you submit the application via our secure online payment portal.
How do I amend a current import permit to add extra goods or change importer/exporter details?
In many circumstances it is not worth amending your import permit as it the applicable fees are the same as a new import permit, but the expiry date will remain the same. It is generally better to apply for a new import permit.
To make a change to a finalised import permit you will need to log into your BICON account and submit a permit variation request.
Please use the help card for “How do I vary my Permit”.
If you have any further questions please contact the department using the ‘Contact Us’ tab in BICON, sending an email to imports or by calling 1800 900 090 or + 61 3 8318 6700 outside Australia (option 1,option 1).
My permit will expire soon (or has expired) - How do I apply for a replacement import permit?
Import permits cannot be ‘renewed’. Prior to issuing a new import permit, the Animal and Biological Imports Branch must undertake a new assessment of the biosecurity risks associated with the goods. This means that a new application form must be submitted in BICON. The new application should provide reference to the old Import Permit number.
All relevant product information (ingredients, manufacturing processes, etc.) must accompany the application.
We recommend that permit applications be submitted at least three months before an existing permit expires to ensure that the new import permit may be issued with in time.
Can I have an import permit with more than one exporter?
An import permit can often be issued listing more than one exporter, however this is dependent on the type of commodity. When submitting your permit application please request ‘various exporters’ or list them on a separate attachment.
Fees for an import permit application are based on lodging and assessing the application, not the granting of an import permit. Applications that are refused have undergone assessment and therefore a refund is not available.
Do I have to answer the genetically manipulated material question? How?
This question only needs to be addressed if the product is for in vivo or environmental end use. If the product is genetically manipulated, the manufacturer or supplier will be able to provide you with the necessary details.
Who do I contact regarding Australian food safety requirements?
Importers and brokers should be aware that all imported food must comply with the requirements of the Imported Food Control Act 1992, as well as Australia's biosecurity laws (Biosecurity Act 2015). The applicable standards for food under the Imported Food Control Act 1992 are those set down in the Australian Food Standards Code (FSC), and these same standards apply to foods manufactured in Australia. The FSC is administered by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and they publish the code on their website. It is the importer's responsibility to ensure that all imported food complies with the Food Standards Code
Who is the Competent Authority for seafood export certification?
The listing of Competent Authorities for certifying the export of seafood and baitfish are linked in several BICON cases. Please refer to the Biosecurity Import Conditions System (BICON) relative to the goods intended for import.
Where can I find information regarding emigrating/moving to Australia?
If you are moving to Australia and importing many different types of goods, it is important that you understand all relevant import requirements. A professional clearance agent or broker may be able to provide assistance for large amounts of goods. Also refer to BICON for details on specific goods. Further information is also available from our webpage: Emigrating/Moving to Australia.
I think the inspection is wrong—what can I do?
If you disagree with the results of an inspection of your goods, you will first need to email the Client Contact Group (CCG) or call 1800 900 090 (+ 61 3 8318 6700 outside Australia). You may be able to arrange further inspection, or treatment of your goods to address biosecurity concerns. If you are unable to reach an agreement, you can contact the Animal and Biological Imports Branch to discuss alternative arrangements.
Do you have another question about importing biological goods? For assistance please email the Biosecurity Import Support Team (BIST) Imports Services Team (IST) or call 1800 900 090 or + 61 3 8318 6700 outside Australia (option 1, option 1)..