Food Import Compliance Agreement (FICA) frequently asked questions

​Compliance agreements provide food importers with an alternative arrangement to the inspection and testing of their products under the Imported Food Inspection Scheme (IFIS). Your food management system should cover some, or all, of the following:

  • approved supplier programs
  • product specifications
  • verification that food received complies
  • corrective action procedures to address non-compliance when found
  • traceability and stock control processes.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (the department) is responsible for managing Australia’s biosecurity system. Every year the department assists millions of people, goods, vessels and aircraft move in and out of Australia without harming our environment, animal, plant and human health.

Our role in imported food

The department is one of many Australian Government agencies responsible for regulating imported food. The role includes ensuring that imported food meets Australia’s biosecurity requirements and the requirements of the Imported Food Control Act 1992.

Ensuring the safety of imported food is important and it’s a big job. We need industry to comply and partner with us so that we can concentrate our efforts on the greatest risks.

What is a Food Import Compliance Agreement?

A Food Import Compliance Agreement is an assurance and audit arrangement where food importers receive formal recognition of their food management system. Compliance agreements provide food importers with an alternative arrangement to the inspection and testing of their products under the IFIS.

What are the benefits of a compliance agreement?

Many importers report that a compliance agreement provides faster and more convenient clearance of their products into Australia. If your business already has a documented food management system that ensures that your food complies with Australia’s import standards, then a compliance agreement may be suitable for you. Under a compliance agreement the department will recognise your documented food management system for sourcing and importing. The outcome is that the department will reduce the rate of regulatory intervention on your supply chain.

What do I need to apply for a compliance agreement?

You must have a documented food management system that verifies that your imports comply with the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. Your food management system may already cover some, or all, of the following:

  • approved supplier programs
  • product specifications
  • verification that food received complies
  • corrective action procedures to address noncompliance when found
  • traceability and stock control processes

The food safety and compliance system criteria are based on Australian Standard ISO 22000:2005 (Food safety management systems-requirements for any organization in the food chain)and include requirements for:

  • manufacturer assurance
  • food safety and compliance assessments
  • process control (on arrival clearance)
  • traceability
  • ​verification

As a voluntary arrangement, importers must submit an application to the department to enter into a compliance agreement.

Any food imported under a compliance agreement is still subject to Australia’s biosecurity requirements under the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its subordinate legislation.

Where can I find more information?

For further information about FICA please contact the department:

FICA Contact Officer
Imported Food section
Phone: 1800 900 090
Email: Imported Food Inquiries

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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