Changes to import requirements

​​​​​​​​​​​Australia’s biosecurity legislation allows us to adapt to changing biosecurity risk. From time to time, we update import requirements to strengthen control on goods where risk has increased, and reduce control 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.

On 21 December 2017, a variety of updates were made to the Biosecurity Goods Determinations to support changes in biosecurity risk. These documents specify whether import permits, or alternative conditions for import, must be met to bring particular goods into Australia.

We have added the requirement for import permits and/or alternative conditions for some goods, and removed them for others. All new import condition lists referenced in the Biosecurity Goods Determinations are published to Biosecurity legislation. There have also been some minor updates to existing condition lists to make them clearer to read and adjust their contents to complement the changes to the Biosecurity Goods Determinations.

The majority of changes apply from 21 December 2017.  The exception is new alternative conditions that will apply to fresh cut flowers and foliage. They will not apply until 1 March 2018 to give businesses time to adjust their operations to meet new alternative condition requirements.


Legislative and related document changes

  • The Biosecurity Goods Determinations for the mainland, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Norfolk Island have been amended to incorporate some changes to import conditions
  • There are corresponding changes to the alternative condition lists published at Biosecurity legislation

In general, changes apply to importing the following goods:

  • Canine semen from listed approved countries
  • Oak barrels with chestnut bark hoops
  • Highly refined organic chemicals (when used for growing purposes)
  • Cats and dogs from Norfolk Island
  • Rabbits from New Zealand
  • Pet fish food
  • Marine molluscs (other than oysters and snails)
  • Herbarium specimens
  • Grape vine articles
  • Artificial plants on natural stems
  • Thatching grass
  • Unprocessed cotton
  • Unprocessed straw articles and products
  • Banana fibre articles
  • Permitted species of dried medicinal mushrooms
  • Slippery elm bark for human consumption
  • Animal trophies, artefacts and handicraft items, hides and skins, bones, horns, antlers, tusks or teeth
  • Green lipped mussel powder from New Zealand
  • Neatsfoot oil, Hyaluronic acid, Spinosyn compounds, Tallow derivatives and colloidal oatmeal
  • Natural casings derived from bovine, ovine, porcine or caprine animals from listed countries
  • Natural or cultured pearls
  • Casein glue and gelatine glue
  • Catgut strings derived from animal intestines for use in musical instruments or sporting equipment
  • Catgut derived from animal intestines for commercial use
  • Rawhides
  • Horse equipment
  • Fresh cut flowers or foliage

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

  • Norfolk Island
    • Stronger import conditions for maize seed and birdseed containing maize to reduce the biosecurity risk posed by boil smut and other pathogens and diseases
    • New alternative conditions for bringing cats and dogs onto Norfolk Island​. If you meet these conditions, you will not need an import permit.
    • Updates to the conditions for importing potatoes, onions, garlic and ginger. These condition changes have resulted from an import conditions review conducted by us, and negotiations with state and territory plant health certification authorities.
  • Norfolk Island, Christmas Island, and Cocos (Keeling) Islands
    • New alternative conditions for stockfeed, growing media and fertiliser imports. If you meet these conditions, you will not need an import permit.

BICON, the department’s biosecurity import conditions database, 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​.

New/updated import condition lists

These lists provide clarification on the Biosecurity Goods Determinations, and should be read together with those documents for a full understanding of legislative requirements:

From 21 December 2017

Commencing 1 March 2018 – Fresh cut flowers and foliage

From 1 March 2018, new alternative conditions for fresh cut flowers and foliage will apply. To be imported without an import permit, they will need to be treated offshore in a manner approved by us, or grown under an approach that appropriately manages biosecurity risks. The goods will require certification from the exporting country’s national plant protection office stating that applicable conditions have been met.

Until 1 March 2018, existing alternative c​onditions for import continue to apply.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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