Managing pests in imported cut flowers and foliage

Australia is one of the few countries to remain free from the world’s most severe pests and diseases. Our agriculture and export industries benefit from our favourable biosecurity status.

There are many kinds of pests (such as thrips, mites and aphids) that can arrive on imported cut flowers that can harm our environment and economy if they enter, spread, and establish. We manage these risks to achieve an Appropriate Level of Protection (ALOP) for Australia.

What you must do

Live pests must be managed on fresh cut flowers in the country of export.

Fresh cut flowers must then be certified by the exporting country’s National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) that they are free from live pests. This must happen before shipment, to prevent pests from arriving at the Australian border.

Managing pest risks is one step you must take. See all steps to import cut flowers and foliage.

We accept 3 pre-export methods for managing live pests. These are:

You must use one of these methods.

NPPO-approved systems approach

A systems approach offers an alternative to treatments such as methyl bromide fumigation.

It is:

  • a series of integrated pest management actions
  • applied at different points along the supply chain in the exporting country.

The CSIRO have developed a toolkit for the design and validation of systems approaches.

The NPPO of the exporting country must approve and certify the systems approach.

You must also apply for an import permit if you are importing from cut flowers from Colombia, Ecuador or Kenya produced using a systems approach.

[expand all]

Inspection and certification

The NPPO must:

  • sample and inspect each consignment of cut flowers for live pests
  • ensure that the consignment meets Australia’s import conditions.

If no live pests are detected, the NPPO will issue a phytosanitary certificate. This must include a declaration that the consignment meets requirements of the NPPO-approved systems approach.

If live pests are detected, a phytosanitary certificate should not be issued.

A treatment certificate may also be required.

Import permit

You need an import permit if you’re importing from growers in Colombia, Ecuador or Kenya that use an NPPO-approved systems approach. The import permit documents your approach and that it has been assessed and approved by us.

Before you apply

Only an Australian importer can apply for a permit.

Use our Biosecurity Import Conditions (BICON) system to apply for a permit.

Make sure you:

  1. Read the information on how to apply for an import permit in BICON.
  2. Register for a BICON account if you don’t already have one.
  3. Develop a supply chain management system (SCMS). You will need one for each country of export.

A SCMS sets out how your systems approach will work. It should detail the management actions you will take in your supply chain to prevent pests in imported cut flowers and foliage.

Check what you need to include in a SCMS.

Apply for a permit

To apply:

  • Login to BICON.
  • Select the ‘apply now’ button.

You will be asked to attach the completed SCMS and other required documents.

You can apply for permits for multiple countries. Copy or add extra ‘commodities’ to your application in BICON.

When we receive your application, we will:

  • check you have supplied all information
  • assess the application, including your SCMS and other documents
  • review and assess any previous import compliance
  • request any further details we need for our assessment
  • advise you of the outcome.

If we refuse to grant a permit, you will not be able to import the cut flowers to Australia using an approved NPPO systems approach.

When you import under a permit

We inspect all cut flower consignments arriving at the border for live pests.

To minimise delays at the border make sure you meet the conditions of your permit. You should:

  • only send consignments that are free from live pests
  • lodge documents with the department as required in BICON, including a copy of a valid permit.

Goods exported under a systems approach that do not have a valid permit will not be allowed entry into Australia.

Failure to comply may result in the import permit being suspended or revoked.

Example of a systems approach

See how you could use a systems approach to produce pest-free cut flowers and foliage for export to Australia.
Not all steps may be required. The NPPO must confirm controls that are critical to managing pests to meet Australia’s import requirements are applied.

Image showing the steps in a systems approach to manage plant pests

Potential actions in a systems approach

You can put various pest management actions in place along the supply chain. For example, during production and post-harvest.

Production:

  • Improving site management
  • Enhancing sanitation and hygiene
  • Using pest free production sites
  • Using production inputs such as infield monitoring and pest control.
  • Using pest free propagation material
  • Using clean growing media
  • Pest monitoring such as visual examination and trapping
  • Pest control such as:
    • Pesticides e.g. chemical and organic (oils, soaps, plant extracts)
    • Physical e.g. enclosed production systems such as glasshouses and screen houses
    • Cultural e.g. field hygiene and sanitation, planting densities
    • Mechanical e.g. use of sticky traps
    • Biological e.g. release of predators to suppress pest populations.

Post-harvest:

  • Sorting and grading
  • Using post-harvest treatments e.g. chemical, physical, controlled atmosphere
  • Hygiene and sanitation of packing facilities and packing materials
  • Temperature control during the packing process
  • Packing in new, clean pest-proof containers to prevent re-infestation
  • Inspection to verify freedom from live pests.

Pre-shipment methyl bromide fumigation

Cut flowers treated through methyl bromide fumigation must be accompanied by both:

  • a phytosanitary certificate
  • the relevant fumigation certificate.

Check details of import conditions for your product in BICON.

Methyl bromide is banned in some countries. You can use a systems approach or alternative treatments approved by the exporting country’s NPPO instead.

[expand all]

Inspection and certification

The NPPO must sample and inspect each consignment of cut flowers to:

If no live pests are detected, the NPPO will issue a phytosanitary certificate. This must include a declaration that the cut flowers have been methyl bromide fumigated and no live pests are present.

If live pests are detected, a phytosanitary certificate should not be issued.

Import permit

You don’t need an import permit if your goods are treated with methyl bromide fumigation.

NPPO-approved alternative pre-shipment treatments

Australia will accept any pre-export treatments that are:

  • applied to kill pests on cut flowers
  • approved by the exporting country NPPO to provide the same efficacy as pre-shipment methyl bromide.

We must approve any alternative treatments designed only to achieve pest sterility, such as irradiation, prior to use.

[expand all]

Inspection and certification

The NPPO must sample and inspect each consignment of cut flowers to:

If no live pests are detected, the NPPO will issue a phytosanitary certificate. This must include a declaration that the cut flowers have been treated under an NPPO-approved alternative treatment method.

If live pests are detected, a phytosanitary certificate should not be issued.

Import permit

You don’t need an import permit if you are using an alternative NPPO-approved treatment method.

Potential treatments

Managing risk before export

You must manage pest risks before they reach our border.

Work with overseas suppliers and exporting country NPPOs to reduce live pests before you send cut flowers to Australia.

We provide final verification at Australia’s border that import conditions have been met. We monitor and manage any live pests we find ensuring we stop them from entering in imported goods.

See how we manage risks at the border.

Learn more

How you can protect Australia from pests in imported  plants.

Check out our bite-sized biosecurity videos. Each explores ways we work at the border to prevent the arrival of exotic plant pests.

Resources for importers:

Need help?

Email the Imports team or call 1800 900 090.

Last reviewed: 21 June 2021
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.

Skip