Notice to Industry 2: Biosecurity requirements for aircraft operations personnel - imported horses


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The intended outcome of this document is to inform aircraft operations personnel of their biosecurity requirements and obligations to comply when they are involved with import of horses from countries other than New Zealand and New Caledonia.

Legislative Framework

Under the Biosecurity Act 2015 (the Act), imported horses are subject to biosecurity control and require an isolation order. The isolation provisions include restricted access to enter the controlled area around the aircraft/horses and decontamination requirements for those admitted to the controlled area.

These conditions apply to all aircraft operations personnel who have permission to enter the controlled area to assist with the import of horses by aircraft. Personnel include cargo handlers, airport ground staff operators and air crew members.

General requirements

Note: For the purpose of these requirements, biosecurity risk material (BRM) includes horse feed, horse bedding, manure and any plant material attached to horse equipment.

Permission to enter the controlled area is subject to the following conditions:

  1. The airline must appoint a co-ordinator to assist the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (the department), in managing the clearance of horses.
  2. All personnel must work cooperatively and comply with biosecurity officer directions.
  3. Appropriate personnel/contractors must be available for cleaning the aircraft and/or corral.
  4. The following table outlines what equipment is required for the airport clearance of imported horses and who must supply it: 
Equipment Responsibility for supply
Disposable clothing Department
Showers, Soap, Towels As arranged between the department and importers
Disinfectants e.g. Virkon, alcohol based antibacterial hand gel and alcohol wipes


Water glass solution Waste contractor
Change of clothes Employee/Employee’s company

Personnel biosecurity requirements

Category A – includes grooms, veterinarians and anyone who touches a horse or the inside of a horse air-stall.

Whether or not directed by a department biosecurity officer, persons that come into direct or very close contact with horses or the horse air-stall must:

  • shower before leaving the corral area at the airport and surrender clothing to a department biosecurity officer for laundering and change into new clothing. Footwear must be inspected and cleaned/scrubbed by a biosecurity officer as required; or
  • proceed directly to the post-arrival quarantine facility to shower, change into clean clothing and footwear, and surrender the dirty clothing and footwear to a department biosecurity officer for laundering.

Category B – includes those personnel located in the corral or aircraft hold who may be in contact with BRM but not in direct contact with horses or the inside of horse air-stalls.  

This includes:

  • cleaners, Aircraft Hold Officer, department staff;
  • tug drivers if not supervised by biosecurity officers; and
  • personnel performing duties in the vicinity of horses and BRM and are not directly supervised by a biosecurity officer.

Category B personnel must:

  • wear dedicated clothing (e.g. material or disposable overalls) while working in the controlled area, and/or aircraft hold;
  • not contact horses or horse air-stalls. If there is exposure (e.g. direct contact with a horse or in-contact equipment) then the person is classified as Category A and requires full decontamination;
  • wash hands with soap and water or alcohol based antibacterial gel/alcohol wipes before leaving the controlled area;
  • present their footwear for inspection. If there is visible dirt on footwear it must be cleaned and disinfected; and
  • remove disposable overalls following their use and dispose of them as biosecurity waste.

Category C – includes those personnel with duties outside the vicinity of horses and are not in  contact with BRM/or are directly supervised by a department officer.

This includes:

  • scissor lift operators, ramp drivers, on board cargo handlers who only touch the outside of the horse air-stalls;
  • Australian Border Force officers, flight crew, MDL operator and main panel operators;
  • tug drivers in the controlled area but remaining on the tug, supervised by department staff and not contacting any part of the controlled area;
  • lower deck loader operators, lower deck drivers and refuelling officers.

Category C personnel must:

  • remain clear of the operations so that no additional biosecurity measures are required;
  • keep away from horses and horse air-stalls;
  • submit for inspection when leaving the controlled area to determine if clothing and footwear are clean and free from contamination with BRM; and
  • advise a biosecurity officer if they are likely to have contact with horses within the next 12 hours.

Note: If a biosecurity officer sees or suspects Category C personnel have been exposed to a horse, the inside of a horse air-stall, or BRM they may reclassify the person to Category A or B (as appropriate) and require them to undergo decontamination as per that category.

Category C personnel that are clean from any BRM and not likely to have contact with horses within the next 12 hours do not require any specific decontamination measures.

Cargo biosecurity requirements

Where a department officer directs cargo on board to be treated or decontaminated, the person(s) responsible for the aircraft must comply with that direction. For cargo transiting to another Australian first point of entry, treatment may be completed at that arrival port, or when unloaded at the final Australian destination, if required.

Aircraft biosecurity requirements

Where a department officer directs that treatment of the aircraft occur, the person(s) responsible for the aircraft must comply with the direction.

Non-compliance with these conditions

Failure to comply with the above conditions may constitute an offence under the Biosecurity Act 2015.

Document information

The following table contains administrative metadata.

Instructional material owner: Director, Horse, Livestock and Bird Imports Program
Freedom of information exemption: No
Records Manager container number: 2014/11556E
Review date: July 2023

Version history

The following table details the published date and amendment details for this document.

Version Date Amendment details
8.0 16/6/2016 Updates to comply with the Biosecurity Act 2015.
9.0 17/12/2019

Updates to improve consistency and readability.
Removed the requirement for category B personnel to wash their face.

10.0 28/07/2020

General updates to improve readability
Update to department name and general terms
Update to new formatting.

Last reviewed: 29 July 2020
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