Approved arrangements for the export of livestock

What is an approved arrangement?

An approved arrangement is an agreement between us and a livestock exporter. It streamlines the export certification process.

Approved arrangements set out the operations which, when correctly applied by a livestock exporter, will effectively manage the preparation and certification of livestock exported from Australia.

This approach is consistent with other export commodity approved arrangements.

The department approves approved arrangements under the Export Control Act 2020 and Export Control (Animals) Rules 2021. In order to export a consignment of livestock, an exporter must have: 

  1. An export licence; and
  2. An approved arrangement (or a small and infrequent exemption); and
  3. An approved export program (AEP).

How to apply for or vary an arrangement

An exporter needs to make an application to us. This should include a draft arrangement outlining an exporter’s business systems and procedures and commitment to meeting all requirements.

Step 1: Check requirements that must be met

Arrangements must ensure livestock exported from Australia meet:

  • the current version of the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL)
  • importing country requirements
  • relevant Australian Government, state and territory laws
  • other requirements as outlined in the Approved arrangement guidelines for the export of livestock.

Step 2: Draft a new or varied arrangement

Exporters should follow the Approved arrangement guidelines for the export of livestock to assist in developing or varying an arrangement.

An approved arrangement has 3 core components of:

  1. governance — the governance of the livestock export business supports the effective implementation and ongoing management of the approved arrangement.
  2. operations — livestock for export are sourced, transported, prepared and exported in accordance with ASEL, importing country requirements and relevant Australian Government and state and territory legislation and other requirements.
  3. quality assurance — procedures are in place to ensure the business systems used by the exporter are effective and manage risks.

An exporter’s approved arrangement must also cover the markets, species, classes (breeder, feeder or slaughter) and mode of transport (exported by air or sea) that the proposed approved arrangement will apply to.

The Approved arrangement guidelines for the export of livestock also covers how to write and apply for various components of an approved arrangement. This includes:

  • guidelines for writing management plans for certain types of livestock (such as heavy cattle by sea or livestock with young at foot by air)
  • assessment criteria and the process for accessing alternative minimum pen space allocation.


Document Pages File size
Approved Arrangement Guidelines for the export of livestock PDF  70 1.1 MB
Approved Arrangement Guidelines for the export of livestock DOCX 70 1.2 MB
A mock Approved Arrangement PDF 26 1.4 MB
A mock Approved Arrangement DOCX 68 146 KB

Step 3: Submitting documents

New applications

Submit the following documents to the Live Animal Export Branch national office:


If exporters need to vary an existing approved arrangement, they should send these documents to the Live Animal Export Branch national office:

  • the variation request made in writing
  • the varied or new components of the approved arrangement (such addition of a new Standard Export Plan (SEP) to add a new market)
  • a completed credit card payment form authorising the application charge.

New SEPs must be approved before an exporter can apply for an export permit and health certificate. Once approved, we will tell the exporter if it will require full livestock inspection and documentation verification for a number of consignments to verify arrangements. Read Performance Management and Compliance Guidelines.


We charge for variations in line with our charging guidelines.

If you have submitted a variation application, you have been charged at the current rate. In 2020 we commenced a review of our live animal export cost recovery arrangements which may affect future fees charged.

Assessing an application

We will complete a desktop review of the arrangement and an on-site audit—both of which need to fill the necessary requirements for the arrangement to be approved.

An assessing officer will contact the applicant if:

  • any changes are required to the arrangement
  • we need more information.

If the application meets the requirements, we will tell the exporter in writing.

Applications are assessed at the national office in Canberra. The department will only assess complete applications.

Applications that are missing required information or need clarification are incomplete. If the application is incomplete, we will let applicants know.

Assessment timeframes

Once the application is complete, please allow:

  • 40 business days for new arrangements
  • 20 business days for variations

From the date of payment of the application charge.

Supporting material

Supporting material has been prepared to assist exporters in writing their approved arrangement.

Supporting material includes:

Access to alternative minimum pen space allocation

The alternative minimum pen space allocation policy applies to exporters seeking to access the alternative minimum pen space allocation for cattle exported by sea, in accordance with ASEL standards 5.3.3, 5.3.4 and 5.3.5 and Tables 10a, 10b, 11b and 12b.

Exporters must have approval to use alternative minimum pen space allocation under their approved arrangement in order to access it.


Document Pages File size
Alternative minimum pen space allocation policy PDF  5 300 KB
Alternative minimum pen space allocation policy DOCX 5 452 KB

Performance management

Approved arrangements allow us to:

  • focus our efforts and resources on areas of highest risk
  • recognise the efforts of compliant exporters.

We have released Performance Management and Compliance Guidelines for approved arrangements.

They provide an outline of the performance management and compliance framework to be applied to exporters under approved arrangements.

Mechanisms we use to monitor performance include:

  • audits
  • inspection of livestock
  • verifying documentation.

We will also use a range of indicators to assess an exporter’s performance, including:

  • livestock export incidents
  • issues identified by importing countries
  • consignment mortality rates.

We vary the level of regulatory oversight depending on the exporter’s performance over time.

It may:

  • increase based on poor performance
  • remain unchanged based on marginal performance
  • be reduced based on compliant performance.

See more:

Exemptions to having an approved arrangement

Exporters may apply for an exemption from having an approved arrangement if they meet the requirements set out in section 2-7 of the Export Control (Animals) Rules 2021. Exemptions must be made using the approved Small and Infrequent Exemption form.

An exemption will enable exporters to operate under an Operations and Governance manual. Exporters may be eligible for a reduced annual license levy.

For more details please refer to the department’s exemptions policy.

Have a question?

Read the frequently asked questions.

Or contact us if you need more information.

Last reviewed: 26 May 2021
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