​​​​​The Biosecurity Act 2015 has recently been amended following the Biosecurity Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2018​ receiving Royal Assent on 1 September 2018.


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.

Other lists related to import conditions

Instruments related to ballast water

Export legislation

Export Control Act 1982

[Part 8 of the repealed Prescribed Goods (General) Orders 1985 is incorporated by reference into the Export Control (Prescribed Goods – General) Order 2005 by subsection 1.07(3) of that Order. To view the text of Part 8 see the supporting material for the Principal Order on the Federal Register or Legislative Instruments (FRLI).]

Imported food legislation

Changes to import conditions to take effect 25 July 2018

Australia’s biosecurity legislation allows us to adapt to changing biosecurity risk. From time to time, we update import requirements to strengthen controls on goods where risk has increased, and reduce controls where it is no longer necessary.

Some goods can only be brought into Australia and its territories with import permits. However, where it is safe to do so, we allow importers to bring certain goods in without a permit if they meet alternative conditions for import. This benefits everyone – it saves importers time and money in applying for permits, and is easier for us to administer.

The Biosecurity Goods Determinations specifies whether import permits, or alternative conditions for import must be met to bring particular goods into Australia. On 25 July 2018, a variety of updates will be made to the Biosecurity Goods Determinations to support changes in biosecurity risk. These updates in some cases include a new requirement for an import permit and/or alternative conditions, and in others the removal of this requirement.

In addition, there are amendments being made to some lists referenced in the Biosecurity Goods Determinations. Lists referenced in the Biosecurity Goods Determinations are published on the Biosecurity legislation webpage.

These changes apply from 25 July 2018. 


Legislative and related document changes

The following goods will no longer require an import permit:

  • Permitted medicinal mushrooms in the form of tablets, capsules, liquid, injectable vials, ointments, and as an ingredient in food or beverage including tea bags
  • Additional species of seed for sowing
  • All dried herb products not for human consumption
  • Myrtaceous species of timber and timber products
  • Returning Australian goods derived from animal and microbial products (excluding live animals) with intact original Australian Government container seals
  • Sawdust and woodchips in the following scenarios
    • Commercially packaged sawdust for alcohol production
    • Commercially packaged wood wool
    • Commercially packaged wood shavings
    • Commercially packaged wood chips equal to or less than 25mm by 25mm by 25 mm
    • Commercially packaged Sawdust and woodchips treated using departmental approved methods of heat, gamma or ETO treatments.

The following ingredients no longer require an import permit for use in veterinary therapeutics and cosmetics for animals:

  • Cyclosporin manufactured without using materials of terrestrial animal or avian origin
  • Diethylaminoethyl (DEAE) Dextran manufactured without using materials of terrestrial animal or avian origin
  • Carminic Acid

The following goods will require and import permit:

  • All non-commercially packaged consignments of sawdust and woodchips

Further details about import requirements and alternative conditions for import are available in the Biosecurity Goods Determinations. This information is also available in the Biosecurity Import Conditions System (BICON).

Key changes for external territories

  • The only amendments that apply to imports into Norfolk Island, Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands are for imports of biological material for certain purposes (Cyclosporin, Diethylaminoethyl and Carminic acid).

BICON, the department’s biosecurity import conditions system, does not include information about imports into Australia’s external territories. For more information about the key changes for these external Territories, email External Territories.

The Biosecurity Goods Determinations covering imports into Norfolk Island, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and the Torres Strait are available at Biosecurity legislation.

Last reviewed: 17 December 2020
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