Importing vessels with timber components frequently asked questions

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I’m importing my vessel into Australia – what do I need to do?

You will need to notify the Department of Home Affairs and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (the department) of your intention to import a vessel prior to arrival.​

The department requirements are to ensure that any biosecurity risks associated with the vessel are identified and managed.  The risk of imported vessels is assessed on the basis of the travel history of the vessel, the amount of timber on board, age of the vessel, whether it has been repaired or refitted, the complexity of construction and limited access for timber inspections.

All vessels containing timber components will be inspected on arrival into Australia. ​Any applicable fees and charges for the inspection are set out in the department's charging guidelines.

Contact the Department of Home Affairs to obtain information on duties and tax payable.

What constitutes a high risk vessel?

High risk vessels are those that have more than a basic amount of timber in the construction and fit-out (e.g. beams, bearers, hull, decking, railings, cabins and/or masts) and have been either manufactured/re-fitted in its history OR spent three or more months (cumulative) in high risk countries.

As examples, the department considers high risk vessels to include (but are not restricted to):

  • older style yachts or other vessels with timber masts and timber hulls
  • some fibreglass hulled vessels with extensive solid timber and/or marine ply internal fit-outs (such as solid timber and ply framing used under flooring, ceilings and walls).

A high risk vessel is also any vessel with evidence to suggest active termite infestations.

High risk vessels are required to undergo a timber inspection. The nature and type of inspection required will be determined by the department on the documents presented on arrival, and will be assessed according to the complexity of the vessel.

What is a high risk country?

For vessels, a high risk country is one that presents a high biosecurity risk for exotic drywood termite infestation.

How far back must my sailing history and refit documentation go?

Minimum 10 years or for the life of the vessel (if less than 10 years old). For more information on the department's requirements please refer to the Biosecurity Import Condit​ions system​ (BICON).

What is involved in a vessel inspection?

Departmental officers will perform risk assessments based on documentation and/or inspection to determine if your vessel is low risk or high risk.

Low risk vessels may be released if no other biosecurity intervention is required.

High risk vessels will be required to undergo an inspection which may include:

  1. visual timber inspection/ confirmation by a departmental inspector or departmental entomologist
  2. timber vessel inspection by an accredited supplier of termite detector dog services, with or without a departmental officer in attendance
  3. timber vessel inspection by an accredited supplier of alternative termite detection services with a departmental accredited timber vessel inspector or departmental entomologist in attendance
  4. treatment using a departmental approved method.

Who are the departmental accredited suppliers for termite detection detector dog services?

Accredited supplier are companies who have obtained accreditation from the department to provide detector dog services for termite detection.

How much does it cost to have a detector dog inspection?

Enquiries relating to the costs of this service are obtained from the provider. The department is unable to provide this information.

My vessel is registered in Australia and I'm just returning from an overseas voyage - I'm not returning to Australia permanently so will I have to get a termite inspection?

An inspection will be carried out on arrival for returning Australian vessels by the departmental officer just like any other vessel entering Australian waters. The inspection will determine whether the vessel presents a low or high biosecurity risk for exotic timber pests.

What do I do if I find termites on my yacht?

Immediately contact your local office or notify the Imports Team:

Phone: 1800 900 090
​​Email: Imports​

How could a termite get onto my boat?

There are two main pathways through which termites can infest vessels:

  1. Infested timber used in construction or refit, or
  2. Termites flying onto a vessel.

Do I need to prepare the vessel in any way prior for a departmental inspection?

In order to make the departmental inspection process more efficient, it is important that the vessel is prepared in such a way that makes it accessible for inspection. For example:

  • the vessel should be secured in such a way that prevents excessive movement during the inspection
  • remove all hazardous items
  • access needs to be provided to all timber surfaces
  • remove all panels, stored food, personal effects and other equipment from lockers/cupboards

Who do I call to find out further information?

Please contact Imports:

Phone: 1800 900 090
Email: Imports​

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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