Importing cut flowers and foliage

​To import fresh cut flowers and foliage to Australia, you must comply with import conditions set by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment before the goods arrive. These conditions are designed to prevent the entry of exotic insects, plant diseases, and other biosecurity risk material into Australia.

In some cases, an import permit may be required.

Your goods will be inspected on arrival in Australia and may require further treatment, export or destruction if they do not meet the impor​t conditions​.

Different import conditions apply to dried or preserved flowers and foliage, please refer to dried or preserved cut flowers and foliage in BICON for more information.

See our importing cut flowers and foliage infographic to learn how the biosecurity risks are managed during the importation of fresh cut flowers and foliage into Australia.

Commercial import conditions

Fresh cut flowers and foliage imported for commercial purposes must be:

  • certified by the National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) of the exporting country on a phytosanitary certificate that states the full botanical name including genus and species of the goods
  • prepared for shipment using approved invertebrate pest management measures
  • verified as free from live pests by the NPPO of the exporting country before export
  • packed in pest proof packaging
  • devitalised if they are propagatable species in accordance with the Cut flower devitalisation treatment guide.

You may need to apply for an import permit depending on the country you source from and the pre-export phytosanitary treatment method used.

Check BICON for the full list of requirements you need to meet to import fresh cut flowers and foliage into Australia.

Sustained action to reduce live pests

Fresh cut flowers and foliage have been imported into Australia on a commercial basis for almost half a century.

Imports of fresh plant material such as leaves, flowers and stems have the potential to introduce weeds, pests and diseases into Australia. These can pose a threat to Australia’s horticultural and agricultural industries, harm the natural environment and damage Australia’s reputation as an exporter.

Patterns of imported cut flower and foliage arriving into Australia have changed significantly since trade commenced. More recently, Australia has seen increased import volumes, changes in countries of origin, and increased rates of live pests of biosecurity concern arriving with imported consignments. In 2019, there were 7,415 consignments imported, three times the volume imported in 2009.

In 2017 we reviewed the import conditions and found large numbers of consignments arriving at the Australian border infested with live pests. We also found that some countries were exporting infested consignments of fresh cut flowers and foliage more than 50 per cent of the time.

Previously, pests found with consignments were treated with onshore methyl bromide fumigation, however the increasing pest load associated with the growing volume of imports has increased the biosecurity risk to Australia through reliance on just one pest control measure.

To address these issues, the department revised the import conditions in March 2018 and began a pest risk analysis for fresh cut flowers and foliage imports.

In contrast to previous conditions which allowed fumigation on arrival in Australia, current import conditions require that biosecurity risks are appropriately reduced offshore before shipments are sent to Australia. This includes requiring that pest control measures for production, packaging and the export system are in place in the exporting country or that pre-shipment treatments are used.

Our ongoing work with exporting countries and the import sector to meet the revised import conditions is continuing to drive down the number of live pests arriving in Australia. 

See our April 2020 stakeholder update for information on the progress made and our plans for further reducing biosecurity risk associated with cut flower imports.

Reporting compliance

We monitor and provide regular updates to importers and our trading partners on the number and types of live pests of biosecurity concern detected with cut flower and foliage shipments on arrival in Australia. 

Where we see high ongoing non-compliance with the import conditions among consignments sent from a country, we will increase our engagement with that country and their Australian importers to allow for any adjustments to be made to their pest control measures to improve compliance.

If live pest loads are still very high, we will implement the requirement for import permits to continue importing from that country.

How importers can help

Biosecurity risk management is a shared responsibility between governments, industry and the community.

We encourage you to work closely with the exporter to find ways to reduce the live pest loads in the country of origin. You may alternatively wish to consider sourcing product from other suppliers.

If you become aware of alleged fraudulent or corrupt activity involving departmental officers or businesses who interact with the department, you can notify the department’s Integrity Hotline on 1800 99 88 80.

Importing for personal use

Passengers arriving in Australia on aircraft or cruise ships can bring fresh cut flowers into Australia, but they are limited to the equivalent of six (6):

  • small (shoe-box sixed) boxes
  • florist packages
  • bouquets.

You must declare all flowers and foliage on your incoming passenger card so that they can be inspected on arrival.

More information

Subscribe to Import Industry Advice Notices to keep up to date on any changes to legislation, procedures and importing requirements.

You can also register for a BICON account if you want to follow changes to cut flower import conditions. Information about how to follow a case is available at How do I use case options and case details.

Alternatively you can email the Imports team for more information.

Last reviewed: 17 April 2020
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