Clearance of cargo containers

​​Australia needs your help to protect its important agricultural industries and unique natural environment from exotic pests and diseases. By meeting the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment requirements you will ensure the fastest clearance of containers and help Australia keep out exotic pests and diseases.

You can clear cargo containers quicker by following these steps:


  • Make sure your goods and packing materials are allowed into Australia and can meet all conditions of import. Import conditions are set under legislation administered by the department. Failure to comply with this legislation in a criminal manner can result in large fines or imprisonment. The Australian import conditions are available on the Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON).
    • This includes determining whether you need an import permit before shipping goods to Australia. This information can be obtained from BICON.
    • If you hold a permit for multiple consignments of goods, make sure the permit is valid and appropriate for the goods before shipping.
  • Provide a department office with a packing declaration to facilitate clearance of containers. The packing declaration should provide details of container cleanliness and whether straw and timber have been used as packing materials. If you don’t provide this information the container will have to be opened and inspected at an Approved Arrangement (AA) premises.
  • If a container has to be directed to an AA premises for unpacking and inspection, delays will occur and costs will be involved.
  • Ensure your container is free of contamination by soil, grain, snails or plant and animal material. The inside and outside of the container should be cleaned before shipment to help facilitate clearance on arrival in Australia. A cleanliness declaration is required for all containerised cargo imported into Australia. All contaminated containers and cargo detected entering Australia are treated before release, delays will occur and charges apply.
  • Have all timber used as packaging in the container treated in an approved method. If timber dunnage has been used in the loading of the containerised cargo, accredited persons must have a valid treatment certificate to satisfy departmental clearance requirements. Timber must also be free of bark.
  • Offshore treatments may facilitate faster clearance of the packing component of the cargo container. However, an approved treatment provider must perform the treatment.
  • Use acceptable alternative packing materials such as synthetic foam, plastics, metal frames, inflated dunnage, wood, wool, shredded paper, and other similar materials.
  • Be aware that exotic pests and diseases could be introduced into Australia on containers, cargo and packaging. Thorough inspections for these pests and diseases are carried out on consignments from high risk countries.
  • Ensure that all documentation and other information relating to the import process, your cargo and container are provided to the department and the Department of Home Affairs.
  • Consider using the services of a licensed customs broker to facilitate the clearance of your goods


  • Don’t use straw packing, it’s prohibited. Straw could carry insects and diseases exotic to Australia. Containers in which straw, rice hulls or similar plant materials have been used as packing has to be unpacked at an AA premises and the straw removed for treatment or destruction at the importer's expense.
  • Don’t pack your goods in fruit, vegetable, meat or egg cartons or second-hand bags. These pose a high risk because they could carry pests and diseases. These types of cartons and bags will be removed and destroyed.
  • Don’t use timber with bark attached. Bark is prohibited and needs to be removed and destroyed.

Other languages

Download translations of this web page.

Document Pages File size
Chinese Simplified PDF 2 376 KB
German / Deutsch PDF 2 418 KB
Indonesian / Indonesia PDF 2 432 KB
Italian / Italiano PDF 2 413 KB
Japanese / 日本語 PDF 2 425 KB
Korean / 한국어 PDF 2 419 KB
Thai / ไทย 2 390 KB
Vietnamese / Tiếng Việt PDF 2 428 KB

If you have difficulty accessing these files, visit web accessibility for assistance.

Last reviewed: 4 February 2020
Thanks for your feedback.
Thanks! Your feedback has been submitted.

We aren't able to respond to your individual comments or questions.
To contact us directly phone us or submit an online inquiry

Please verify that you are not a robot.