Step-by-step guide to exporting dairy products

​Follow these steps to export dairy products. This guide will help you comply with Australian export laws and meet importing country requirements.

If you are looking for information on starting up a dairy business, meeting regulatory requirements and expanding your export operations, our information directory for dairy manufacturers and exporters can help point you in the right direction.

Fees and charges apply to some steps.

Export facilitator service

The department’s free export facilitator service can provide one-on-one assistance as you progress through this step-by-step guide. It is particularly important for dairy manufacturers seeking to become export registered to get in touch with our export facilitator before submitting an application for registration. The export facilitator can help you understand the process and requirements so that you are well prepared for a more streamlined experience.

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Step 1: Check how your goods are defined

You need to understand how your product is defined by law, as export requirements differ between products.

Prescribed goods

Any dairy product:

  • manufactured in Australia intended for human consumption; and
  • where the major ingredient is dairy.

Except products destined for New Zealand, which are considered to be non-prescribed.

Examples include:

  • butter
  • cheese
  • cream
  • dairy-based dips
  • milk, milk powder and milk powder blends (including infant formula, protein or whey powders)
  • yoghurt.

We regulate prescribed goods. To export prescribed goods, continue to Step 2.

Non-prescribed goods

Examples include:

  • products obtained from a cow for animal consumption
  • products obtained from a cow for human consumption where dairy is
    • not the major ingredient (by weight or volume), or
    • the major ingredient, but it is not like a prescribed dairy product, for example ice-cream, cheesecake, custard, colostrum
  • from an animal other than a cow, including sheep, goat, buffalo, camel
  • any dairy product destined for New Zealand.

You do not need to continue through this guide. You must still meet any specific requirements of the importing country.

In some cases a non-prescribed good becomes a prescribed dairy product when an importing country requires export registration and certification.

Find out how to export non-prescribed goods.

Step 2: Check importing country requirements

For both prescribed and non-prescribed goods, you must meet all requirements set by the importing country.

Before you export:

You can also read our advice on:

Export quotas

Some of our trade agreements include quotas with reduced tariff rates for certain products. In some cases, we manage these export quotas.

You may be eligible if you export to:

  • European Union
  • United States of America

Check if export quotas apply to your goods.

Step 3: Register with us

You must register with us if you are involved in the export of prescribed dairy products. Requirements vary depending on your role in the export process.


As an exporter you are the person or company legally responsible for complying with the export requirements of your dairy products.

Your company name is on all export documents. You make or have all declarations that the products are fit for export and meet importing country requirements.

Register as an exporter through our Export Documentation System (EXDOC). This is how you link your name and details to documents requested through the system.

Export establishments

You need to register with us if you handle prescribed dairy products for export. This applies to:

  • freight forwarders
  • manufacturers
  • processors
  • producers
  • storage facilities.

Our free export facilitator service is here to provide you with the knowledge you need to progress along your registration journey smoothly and efficiently. Contact the export facilitator before submitting an application for export registration to help you get started.

To register your establishment, you must:

We will conduct:

  • a check of all staff listed in your application
  • a check for any outstanding debt to the Commonwealth owed by the establishment
  • an audit of your establishment to confirm details and effective implementation of your approved arrangement.

If you want to export your own product (rather than sell to an exporter or another export registered establishment) you will also need to register as an exporter.

Find out more about registering as an establishment.

Step 4: Find a supplier

Complete this step if you are exporting goods manufactured by someone else.

You must only source products from an export registered establishment. You are responsible for making sure your supplier is registered with us.

Organic or biodynamic goods

If you declare that your products are organic or biodynamic, you must source these products from a certified supplier.

Check that your supplier has a certificate of compliance. This must be issued by an approved certifying organisation.

Step 5: Gather evidence of export eligibility

Make sure you have all certificates, declarations and supporting documentation you need to export your goods.

You must confirm that you have these documents when you request an export permit.

Declaration of compliance

Manufacturers of dairy products for export are responsible for making a declaration of compliance.

The declaration confirms the goods are eligible for export, specifically that the product:

Each shipment must have a declaration of compliance. The declaration must provide assurance that all products in the shipment comply.

Transfer declaration

When you receive or dispatch goods from your export registered establishment to another, you must make a transfer declaration. This does not apply if you are sending product straight to a wharf or airport.

The declaration must identify the specific goods and state the product has been stored in accordance with:

Organic produce certificate

To export organic or biodynamic produce, you must have an organic produce certificate. You will only get this if you sourced your products from a certified supplier.

You must have a certificate for each shipment.

Request your organic produce certificate from an approved certifying organisation.

Step 6: Request an export permit

When your dairy products are ready for export, you need to make a Request for Export (RFE) using our Next Export Documentation System to obtain your required export documentation. An export permit must be obtained before the goods are shipped from Australia.

This can be completed by:

  • exporters who are registered in NEXDOC
  • agents for the exporter, if the exporter’s details are already registered in NEXDOC
  • automated export permit issuers.

When requesting a permit, you need to select the relevant dairy product code. Product codes are used in customs declarations and to link your permit to the registered establishment.

After a REX is approved, you will be issued with:

  • an export permit, required for all shipments leaving Australia
  • a health certificate, when required by the importing country.

Fees and charges are payable.

Step 7: Declare your export goods

Check if you need to make a customs export declaration. All prescribed dairy goods being exported from Australia must be accurately declared to Customs and issued with an Export Declaration Number (EDN).

Goods not declared to Customs will not be allowed onto the wharf or airport.

Link to customs’ system through our Export Documentation System

You can obtain an EDN through our Export Documentation System, by linking your account in NEXDOC with the customs’ Integrated cargo system (ICS). To do so you need to:

  • Register your ABN in the customs’ ICS system.
  • Apply for access to the Single Electronic Window in our export documentation system.

Step 8: Export your goods

If you have completed steps 1-7 and met all requirements, your goods can be exported.

Find more information about exporting dairy products on the Dairy Australia trade ready website.

Find more resources for dairy exporters.

Last reviewed: 20 July 2021
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