Notice to Industry 8: Horse Importer responsibilities - horses from New Zealand and New Caledonia

​​Introduction

The purpose of this document is to inform importing agents, their staff and contractors involved with the import of live New Zealand and New Caledonia horses of their responsibilities and their obligation to comply with these requirements.

This document is provided for information only. To the extent that this document is inconsistent with any import permit, direction, industry notice or authorisation, the terms and conditions of the import permit, direction, industry notice or authorisation take precedence and will apply. Failure to comply with a condition of an import permit, direction, industry notice or authorisation may constitute an offence.

Background

The import of live horses is regulated by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. Each year, hundreds of live horses are imported into Australia. Each consignment may pose a biosecurity risk from animal diseases such as equine influenza (EI), equine piroplasmosis, surra and Japanese encephalitis. Additionally, the import of horses presents a plant biosecurity risk due to the potential for weed seeds to be present in the stalls, equipment and animal faeces.

The primary disease of concern when handling imported horses is EI. This disease can be transmitted via an infected horse, either directly or via people or equipment in contact with an infected horse. The EI virus can be inactivated in a variety of ways, including by using soaps, detergents, acids and oxidising agents (such as Virkon).

New Zealand and New Caledonia are free from EI. However, if a case did occur in an imported horse, all people and other horses in close proximity to the horse on arrival in Australia, and during any quarantine isolation period, have the potential to transmit EI virus. This could occur even if they have had minimal contact with the animals. Additionally, equipment used in the feeding, handling and treatment of these horses on arrival in Australia and in any quarantine isolation period would also carry a risk of transmitting EI.

The Biosecurity Act 2015 provides biosecurity officers with the authority to give directions to or require a person who may have been exposed to a disease or pest, such as through contact with goods that are subject to biosecurity control to do certain things. These directions or requirements may include being instructed to undertake appropriate decontamination measures. In the event that circumstances or requirements fall outside the routine documented procedures, importers and their agents must comply with all reasonable requests/instructions given by a biosecurity officer.

Preparatory requirements

The importer must:

  • Apply for/hold a valid import permit for the horses.
    •  Permits for New Zealand are valid for 12 months and multiple consignments of horses.
    •  Permits from New Caledonia are valid for 2 months and 1 consignment of horses only.
  • Read, understand and meet all requirements in each department import permit issued.

It is the importer’s responsibility to ensure that owners are aware of the risks associated with the importation of horses into Australia. Suspected and confirmed exotic disease may mean that imported and in-contact horses become subject to biosecurity control, and associated biosecurity measures put in place. This scenario could affect movement of the horse/s and access to veterinary care while biosecurity measures are in place.

Pre-arrival responsibilities

The importer must:

  1. Ensure that all pre-export conditions detailed on the import permit are met.
  2. Ensure that hay or straw bedding is not used during transport.
  3. Notify the department horse co-ordinator in the first point of entry of impending consignments at least 3 business days prior to arrival.
  • To commence the notification process importers should complete Template: 0.2 Notice of intent to import live horses (NOI) and email or fax it to the relevant department regional office for the intended first point of entry. A list of horses to be imported, including details of any variations to import permit conditions, should also be provided as part of the notification process.
  1. Confirm the time of arrival or any changes to the schedule by phone to the department regional horse coordinator.
  2. Provide the AIMS entry number for the consignment to the horse coordinator.
  3. Make any necessary bookings of first point of entry facilities for arrival of the horses.
  4. For horses from New Zealand, supply the following information to the department regional horse coordinator prior to the arrival of the horses:
  • Dates and results of all required tests and treatments, dates of all required vaccinations.
  • Details of any additional treatments for horses in the consignment.
  • Draft wording for the health certification that represents all horses in the consignment.
  • Any permit variations for the horses in this consignment (that were not included with the NOI)

The horse coordinator will use this information to organise the correct number of biosecurity officers to be present for the arrival of the flight, and to process the horses, associated equipment and personnel in a timely manner.

  1. For horses from New Caledonia, supply the following information to the department regional horse coordinator prior to the horses leaving the pre-export isolation facility for the port of export:
  • The dates and results of all required tests and treatments, and the dates of all required vaccinations.
  • Details of any additional treatments for horses in the consignment.
  • Any permit variations for the horses in this consignment (that were not included with the NOI).
  • A statement confirming that the official certification accompanying the horses in the consignment will match the import permit conditions and any permit variations.

The department will review this information and give a pre-export compliance report prior to the importer loading the horses for export. If the information provides evidence that the horses comply with the import conditions up until the time they arrive at the port of export and that there is veterinary certification for these horses, the compliance report will recommend the horses be loaded. If these are not complete, the compliance report will recommend the horses not be loaded until any discrepancies can be resolved.

Note: The horses must not leave the pre-export isolation facility to be loaded for export until written (email / fax) compliance report has been received from the department.

The horse coordinator will also use this information to organise the correct number of biosecurity officers to be present for the arrival of the ship, and to process the horses, associated equipment and personnel in a timely manner.

  1. For horses from New Caledonia, supply the following information to the department prior to the arrival of the horses:
  • Copies of certified health certificates and any supporting documentation (e.g. laboratory reports).

The department uses this information to facilitate an efficient clearance of horses and their paperwork on arrival in Australia.

On-arrival responsibilities

The importer must:

  1. Ensure all department directions are complied with.
  2. Ensure the horses are readily identifiable at the time of arrival, such as with mane or rump labels.
  3. Ensure all original health certificates and supporting documentation are handed to the biosecurity officers at the first point of entry.
  4. Ensure sufficient horse transport vehicles/facilities are available to hold all horses until the clearance process is finalised.
  5. Ensure that sufficient essential personnel are available to assist with the unloading and clearance of horses. Non-essential or unauthorised personnel will not be permitted in the area.
  6. Ensure arrangements for pick-up of horses take account for potential disease incidents that could require all in-contact horses be held in quarantine isolation for a period of hours/days.

Note: that current biosecurity requirements state that ‘in contact’ horses are those within 100m of the facility where the suspect/infected horse is located.

  1. Ensure the minimum number of horse transport vehicles required are present at the first point of entry to pick-up imported horses. This will facilitate efficient clearance of imported horses at the first point of entry; reduce delays due to security and vehicle logistics; and enable better separation of import/export consignments (reducing the risk of holding up the export consignment if there is a sick horse imported). Where multiple owners wish to pick up one or a few horses only, this should be done outside the first port of entry or at separate premises (not within the first point of entry).
  2. Ensure that equipment, horse stalls or any other equipment imported with the horses is cleaned, disinfected or treated according to the department directions. The importer is responsible for all costs associated with this cleaning, disinfection and or treatment. This includes appropriate disposal of plant material and feeds (hay, chaff, fodder, etc.) that may have been used during transport to Australia. This material cannot be imported into Australia without an import permit.

The importer is responsible for meeting all department costs associated with the import of horses including the costs associated with import permit applications, inspection and any contingency arrangements should they be required.

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources contacts

Section

Email

Phone

Horse, Livestock and Bird Imports Program

horses@agriculture.gov.au

61 2 6272 4158

Horse Coordinator Sydney

ceranimalimports@agriculture.gov.au

61 2 8334 7606
61 466 656 982

Horse Coordinator Melbourne

Horsesmelbourne@agriculture.gov.au

61 466 334 510

Horse Coordinator Brisbane

qldliveanimalimports@agriculture.gov.au

61 7 3246 8637
61 428 100 523

Document information

The following table contains administrative metadata.

Document owner:

Director of Horse, Livestock and Bird Imports Program

Document ID:

2012/2376

FOI exemption:

No

TRIM file number:

2014/11556E

Review date:

June 2020

Version history

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

Version

Date

Amendment details

1.0

09/07/2012

To clarify importer’s responsibilities for the clearance of live horses from New Zealand.

2.0

20/08/2013

Amended to implement IRA review.

3.0

07/10/2014

Amended to include responsibilities for import and clearance of horses from New Caledonia. Updated on new template.

4.0 16/6/2016 Updates to comply with the new Biosecurity Act 2015
5.0 10/10/2018

Updated phone numbers in contact list.
Updated wording for permit variations.

6.0 23/04/2019 Removal of requirement to provide a contingency plan.
​​​
Last reviewed: 9 December 2019
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