The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment administers the Biosecurity Act 2015, Export Control Act 1982, Imported Food Control Act 1992 and various other Acts in order to protect Australia's animal, plant and human health status and to maintain market access for Australian food and other agricultural exports.

If you import or export goods to/from Australia or are associated with the movements of vessels or aircraft to Australia, you should be aware of your responsibilities under Australian law.

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Biosecurity legislation

The Biosecurity Act 2015 (Biosecurity Act) commenced on 16 June 2016. It is co-administered by the Ministers responsible for Agriculture and Water Resources, and Health.

A strong biosecurity system helps protect our way of life from the threat of exotic pests and diseases to our unique environment, the economy, our health and our agricultural industries.

The risks posed by exotic pests and diseases are increasing due to growing international passenger and trade volumes, population expansion, the emergence of new pests and diseases and regional development.

The Biosecurity Act 2015 strengthens and modernises our biosecurity system, making sure it is up to the challenges of the future. All primary and subordinate biosecurity legislation can be found on the Federal Register of Legislation.

Read more about how the Act is administered and its impact on specific industries and trade.

Primary legislation and regulations

The primary legislation that provides the legal powers for all of Australia’s biosecurity activities is the Biosecurity Act 2015.

A history of the amendments made to the Biosecurity Act.

There are two regulations made under the Act:

Biosecurity Goods Determinations

There are five Goods Determinations that provide additional detail on imports under the Biosecurity Act 2015.

Lists referenced in the Biosecurity Goods Determinations

These lists provide extra clarification on the Biosecurity Goods Determinations. They should be read together for a full understanding of legislative requirements.

The Biosecurity (Conditionally Non-prohibited Goods) Determination 2021 commenced on 20 March 2021, replacing the Biosecurity (Prohibited and Conditionally Non-prohibited Goods) Determination 2016.

The lists are currently being updated to reflect this change and, until this update occurs, references to the Biosecurity (Prohibited and Conditionally Non-prohibited Goods) Determination 2016 should be taken to be references to the relevant section(s) of the Biosecurity (Conditionally Non-prohibited Goods) Determination 2021.

Other lists related to import conditions

Instruments related to ballast water

Export legislation

Australia’s new legal framework for agricultural exports commenced on Sunday 28 March 2021 at 3 am Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT).

The Australian Government introduced the new export legislation as part of a wider initiative to strengthen Australia’s agricultural exports and market access. This initiative will:

  • make the laws more relevant
  • responsive and efficient
  • provide the same level of regulatory oversight
  • remove duplication
  • ensure consistency across the commodities where possible.

This will allow for a streamlined approach to regulating different prescribed commodities and will ensure the framework is more accessible for exporters.

The new export legislation includes two components.

  1. The Export Control Act 2020 (the Act) sets out the overarching legal framework for the regulation of exported goods, including food and agricultural products, from Australian territory. It enables the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment to make rules that detail the requirements and establish conditions relating to the export of certain goods.
  1. The Export Control Rules 2021 (the Rules) are legislative instruments made by the Secretary under section 432 of the Act. The Rules set out the operational requirements that must be adhered to for the export of specific goods from Australian territory, or from a part of Australian territory (e.g. meat).

To read more about the new export legislation, visit: Improving agricultural export legislation.

Imported food legislation

Last reviewed: 6 August 2021
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