Exporting from Australia

​​​​​The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment controls exports of agricultural products. This assures our trading partners that Australian agricultural products meet import requirements.

Efficient regulation of exports is the cornerstone of Australia’s reputation as a​n excellent source of reliable agricultural exports.

The department’s responsibilities and powers are defined in the Export Control Act 1982 and associated legislation. We recover the cost of providing export services through export fees and charges.

Commodities controlled by the department

Export commodities controlled by the department are listed or ‘prescribed’ in the legislation. Prescribed goods—or goods included in a class of prescribed goods—include:

  • dairy products
  • eggs and egg products
  • fish and fish products
  • fresh fruit and vegetables
  • grains and seeds
  • hay and straw
  • live animals
  • meat and meat products
  • organic produce
  • plants and plant products.

Why some products are prescribed in the legislation and others are not

The legislation covers those commodities that most trading partners want to be managed by a government authority.

The objective of the legislation is to enable trade by ensuring that export commodities meet importing country requirements and are fit for purpose. If the commodity is a food, it must be:

  • fit for human consumption
  • accurately described and labelled
  • fully traceable, if necessary.

Some animal or plant by-products may be exempt from government control under the legislation, such as:

  • fish oil for manufacturing or pharmaceutical purposes
  • fish meal for pet food.

These products may not require government control to be exported. However, in some cases, trading partners may require compliance with importing requirements, including certification.

Highly processed products, like wines, usually can be exported without government controls. These are unlikely to transmit plant or animal diseases and will meet relevant food safety criteria. In rare circumstances they may require certification.

See also:​

Preparing to export a prescribed commodity

For prescribed products, the Export Control legislation defines the compliance requirements for export businesses.

Requirement for registration

All premises (including fishing vessels) where goods prescribed in the legislation are prepared for export must be registered to undertake those operations by the department under the Export Control (Prescribed Goods—General) Order 2005.

Preparation for export includes:

  • slaughter of animals and dressing of carcases
  • capturing or taking fish
  • processing, packing or storage of goods
  • pre-export quarantine or isolation, treatment and testing of livestock
  • treatment of goods
  • handling or loading of goods.

The business manager must complete an Export registration form (EX26) and the establishment must be constructed and have appropriate equipment and work practises to comply with export legislation. The establishment will be audited to confirm compliance with export requirements.

Once the department provides a letter and certificate of registration, the establishment can produce product for export. The registration certificate should be prominently displayed in the establishment.

Some importing countries may require Australian establishments to be listed before export.

Management by a fit and proper person

Fit and proper criteria include, but are not limited to, being law abiding, truthful in your statements to the government and complying with government directions.

Compliance with relevant standards

Your establishment and the operations that you conduct in that establishment must meet minimum standards, including export standards and importing country requirements.

Export standards

Compliance with the standards in the export legislation will enable you to access many international markets.

Importing country requirements

Some trading partners place additional requirements on establishments that want to export to them. See importing country requirements on Micor.

For example, the European Union requires that hormone growth promotants (HGPs) are never used on cattle intended to produce meat products for European markets. The European Union also requires that these cattle have life time segregation from all other cattle. The department manages the European Union Cattle Accreditation System (EUCAS) to enable establishments to meet this requirement.

An importing country may impose a requirement for listing. This means that the importing country will maintain a list of establishments that are allowed to export to them. In some cases importing countries will expect the establishment to be successfully audited by their own officials. The department regularly hosts delegations of international officials conducting audits on establishments that want to export to these markets.

Business must have an approved arrangement

When an establishment requests to become export registered, it must have a completed approved arrangement available for assessment by the department.

All export registered establishments, including vessels, involved in the preparation, handling and storage of dairy, egg, fish and meat products destined for human consumption must have an approved arrangement agreed by the department.

An establishment’s approved arrangement is a ‘How to export’ document specifically written for that establishment. The approved arrangement should include the specific processes and procedures that will enable the establishment to successfully export. An approved arrangement covers all the commodities that the establishment wants to export and the requirements of destination markets.

For plants and plant products controlled by the department, an application for registration of an export establishment must be accompanied by plans, specifications and evidence of an operational record-keeping system.


We charge a fee for this service—see Charging guidelines 2015–16.

Documentation of export consignments

Exporters of meat, fish, dairy, eggs, grain, horticulture, skins and hides, wool and meat by-products, such as pharmaceuticals, blood and pet food, use electronic certification and may generate their own health certificates and related documents by registering as an Export Documentation System (EXDOC) Electronic Data Interface (EDI) user.

When exporters also register for the Single Electronic Wi​ndow (SEW)​, EXDOC can generate an export declaration number (EDN) necessary for Integrated Cargo System clearance, to streamline the export process.

Exporters of live animals use manual certificates, generated by the Tracking Ani​mal Certification for Export (TRACE) system.

Specific requirements for certain commodities

Meat export licence

If you export beef, sheep or goat meat, you must obtain a meat export licence.

European Union Cattle Accreditation Scheme (EUCAS)

Beef exported from Australia to the European Union (EU) must be sourced from farm or feedlot properties and saleyards accredited by the department under the European Cattle Accreditation Scheme (EUCAS).

Export Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS)

Exporters of feeder and slaughter livestock to Indonesia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar must have an approved Export Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) for all consignments.

Last reviewed: 1 December 2020
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