The importation of some commodities is, by law, subject to the biosecurity conditions outlined in the departments Biosecurity Import Conditions (BICON) system. Some commodities are only allowed into Australia upon the granting of an import permit from the department.
Import permit fees apply for the acceptance and assessment of import permit applications.
Applying for import permits
Identify the need for an import permit
The Import Conditions published in BICON will define whether an import permit is required for your import scenario. A link will be provided to apply for an import permit, if an import permit is required.
Apply for your import permit
If your commodities require an import permit, the permit must be granted before the goods arrive in Australia. Importers must ensure that permits are applied for well in advance of the expected landing date of their consignment.
You can apply for an import permit through BICON once registered as a user. Information is available on how to register an account in BICON. Commodities which are imported without a valid import permit may be re-exported or destroyed at the importer’s expense.
The department will assess your application and may decide to grant an import permit subject to any conditions deemed necessary for safe importation, use and disposal of those commodities. Applying for an import permit does not automatically result in an import permit being issued.
The department has published a range of standard permit conditions to manage the biosecurity risk of certain commodities and to help streamline the permit application process. If you are able to meet all of the import conditions in a standard permit case, we recommend you apply for a standard permit.
More information on standard permits can be found at Standard permits for biological products.
BICON gives you the option to pay online via credit card, or to receive an invoice to pay at a later date. If you choose to pay for a permit using credit card you will be redirected to the Commbank webpage to make a secure payment. If you choose to pay at a later date your permit application will not be assessed until payment is received. Invoices to be paid at a later date can be accessed and paid online from within the ‘Invoices’ tab in BICON – see How do I manage payments for Permits in the BICON Help menu for more information. Please refer to the BICON invoice for all other valid payment options, noting that at this time, BICON invoices are not able to be paid via the department’s secure online payment service.
You can save a draft version of your application if required and continue working on it at a later time without losing any information you have already entered.
To support your permit application, BICON allows you to attach documents (e.g. manufacturer’s declaration). Each of your attachments can be up to 100MB in size.
Permit assessment processes
Timeframe for assessing permit applications
The majority of permit applications are processed and decided within 20 days, but there are some circumstances for which this process takes longer because the application for an import permit is inherently complex.
Under the Biosecurity Act 2015 and Biosecurity Regulation 2016, the department has a maximum of six months (123 business days) to assess a permit application and decide whether to grant or refuse a permit. This does not mean that every permit decision will take six months. The department will continue to apply existing service standards. The six month maximum assessment period was introduced to provide greater certainty to applicants around the closure of the administrative process for permit decisions and a pathway to review the decision efficiently. This period may be extended when the department is:
- awaiting additional information requested from the applicant or other relevant persons
- determining whether the applicant is a fit and proper person
- awaiting scientific advice, testing or expert review to assess the biosecurity risk associated with the goods
- assessing facilities used for purposed relating to the goods
- assessing processes used in relation to the goods
- negotiating or liaising with government authorities of a foreign country in relation to the management of the biosecurity risk associated with the goods
- waiting for payment of fees associated with the application.
Fit and proper person test
The Biosecurity Act 2015 provides the department with an option to apply a fit and proper person test to import permit applicants and their associates. The test supports the trust placed on importers who are granted import permits.
Not all permit applicants will be subject to a fit and proper person test - this test will only be used at the department’s discretion. When the department elects to undertake a fit and proper person test applicants will be required to answer questions relating to their fitness and propriety in addition to completing the usual permit application process.
Right to seek a review of a decision
The decision to refuse, vary, suspend or revoke an import permit, or to impose or vary a condition on a permit, is a reviewable decision under the Biosecurity Act. The applicant/permit holder can request the Director of Biosecurity to conduct a formal internal review of these reviewable decisions. The decision of the Director of Biosecurity or the internal reviewer is also subject to further external review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
Permit decisions and advice issued through BICON will indicate the contact point and criteria for requesting a review of a decision.
Goods that arrive without an import permit
The Biosecurity Act 2015 states that conditionally non-prohibited goods must not be brought or imported into Australian territory unless the specified conditions (including conditions for administrative purposes) are complied with. It is a criminal offence pursuant to section 186 of the Act to bring or import goods into Australian territory that require an import permit, without one.
The Act does not provide for permits to be issued after goods have been brought into Australian territory.
As of 9 April 2018, the department will no longer facilitate the clearance of conditionally non-prohibited goods that arrive without the required import permit. Therefore, goods that require a permit, but arrive without one, including where an application is currently under consideration, will be directed for export from Australian territory or required to be destroyed in an approved manner.
Track the progress of your application
You can track the progress of your applications, permits and variation requests via your registered BICON user account. This includes the ability to view all outstanding invoices and correspondence that may be required to progress a permit application.
Managing existing permits
Variations to permits issued by BICON
You can request to vary your permit by opening your permit application within your registered user account in BICON, and selecting the ‘Vary My Permit’ button. Task cards are available to show you how to vary an import permit through BICON’s Help menu.
Permit variations will be viewable in your registered user account once they have been assessed by the department, and will result in a new BICON permit that is linked to the varied permit. You will also be notified via your preferred contact method (either email or post) once the application to vary a permit has been processed.
Please note that the updated permit will retain the expiry date of the original permit. If your permit is due to expire soon we recommend applying for a new permit instead of applying for a variation.
Be alerted to any changes in your permit
If the import conditions of an issued permit change you will be contacted by the department to have your permit reissued with the appropriate variations. You will also be able to subscribe to BICON Alerts which will be used to communicate changes to import conditions, amongst other things.
Reminders before your permit expires
You can set up permit expiry reminders through your registered user account. If you wish to set a reminder for a different period you can either change this account default, or set individual permits to have a different reminder period. For example, you can elect to have BICON send you a reminder 90 days prior to expiration for most permits, and then set a different reminder on a number of individual permits for 30 days.
Renewing permits issued by BICON
Import permits are not able to be renewed. If your permit is due to expire, you can apply for a new permit. If needed you can copy a previous application when applying for a new import permit, providing that the application details have not since changed.
See a history of all the BICON permits issued to you
You can see historical details of each BICON permit issued to you in your registered user account when logged into BICON.
Please note that permits issued from ICON (the previous import conditions database) will not be transferred to BICON, and therefore will not be viewable from your BICON account. Similarly, any manual import permit applications processed in BICON will not be viewable from your BICON account.