Importing fresh produce for commercial purposes
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Fresh produce is unprocessed or partially processed fresh fruit and vegetables. Partial processing may include slicing or removing the peel.
You must comply with import conditions for fresh produce. Do this before you send them to Australia.
Import conditions help to prevent the entry of exotic insects, plant diseases and other biosecurity risk material into Australia.
Most fresh produce is only permitted into Australia as commercial air or sea freight.
Before you import
You must meet all requirements to import fresh produce for commercial use.
There are also requirements around what you can and can’t bring with you as a passenger or by mail. Check requirements for bringing or mailing goods to Australia. Most fresh produce is not permitted as passenger baggage or by mail.
Take these steps before you import fresh produce into Australia for commercial use.
Step 1: Check all import requirements
Before you send fresh produce, you need to:
- apply for an import permit (if required)
- Ensure all pre-export requirements have been met, including arrange pre-export treatment (if required) and inspection
- book an on-arrival inspection. Do this before the scheduled arrival of your goods
- organise any necessary approved arrangements for holding, inspecting, or treating the goods on arrival
- gather all required documents
- know about any fees and charges.
You can use a customs broker to help you with these steps.
Fresh produce for import to Australia must:
- be a permitted species from a permitted country for import into Australia
- be for human consumption only
- be free from live pests and disease, contaminant seed, soil, animal and plant debris and any other material of biosecurity concern
- be certified by the exporting NPPO as having met all requirements for import into Australia
- be packed in clean, new, pest-proof packaging and clearly labelled
- meet Australia’s imported food laws.
Check BICON for the full list of requirements you need to meet. Once you have found the right BICON case, you will be directed to the relevant import scenario and import conditions.
Ensure you read all requirements carefully. You can email or call us on 1800 900 090 if you have any questions.
Produce that does not meet import conditions will be not be permitted entry into Australia.
Importing into external territories
You must meet specific conditions to import into the external territories of Norfolk Island, Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
Other laws and requirements
We may need to inspect imported fresh produce for human consumption on arrival to check it meets Australian requirements for public health and safety and is compliant with Australia’s food standards.
You may also need to meet laws and requirements set by other Australian Commonwealth authorities as well as state and territory authorities.
Make sure you’re aware of all your obligations. Check with other agencies before you bring goods into Australia.
If the species is not permitted
You can’t import a fruit or vegetable species that doesn’t have associated import conditions available on BICON.
To import a fruit or vegetable not listed in BICON we would need to first undertake a risk analysis. For this sort of risk assessment to begin, we require an import proposal initiated by the exporting country identifying the commodity as a market access priority. Further information on Biosecurity Import Risk Analyses can be found here.
Step 2: Apply for an import permit (if required)
Some fruit and vegetable species are only allowed into Australia under an import permit issued by us.
Use BICON to apply for a permit.
Make sure you:
- read the information on how to apply for an import permit in BICON.
- register for a BICON account if you don’t already have one.
Apply for a permit
Login to BICON.
Select the ‘apply now’ button.
When we receive your application, we will:
- check you have supplied all information
- assess the application
- review and assess any previous import compliance
- request any further details we need for our assessment
- advise you of the outcome.
Your application must include sufficient evidence that you can comply with the import conditions to be granted an import permit.
You can email or call us on 1800 900 090 if you have any questions.
Import permit fees and charges are non-refundable.
Step 3: Arrange pre-export treatment and inspection
Some fresh produce may need to be treated before it is exported to Australia to ensure it is free from pests and diseases.
Your supplier is required to arrange for the exporting country’s National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) to inspect the fresh produce before shipment to Australia.
If the NPPO is satisfied the fresh produce meets Australia’s import conditions, they will issue a phytosanitary certificate.
Step 4: Arrange for on-arrival holding, inspection or treatment
To minimise delays in clearing your goods on arrival in Australia, ensure you:
- organise any necessary approved arrangements for holding, inspecting or treating the goods and book an on-arrival inspection.
Make any arrangements before the goods are scheduled to arrive to avoid delays.
Step 5: Gather all required documents
Import permit (if required)
Not all fresh produce requires an import permit.
Where a permit is required, the importer must ensure that the sender is aware of all the conditions on the import permit and can comply with them.
Import permits must be granted prior to arrival of the goods into Australian territory. A valid copy of the import permit must be lodged for any consignments sent to Australia.
All fresh produce needs a phytosanitary certificate issued by the exporting country’s National Plant Protection Organisation.
Check BICON if there are any additional declarations that must be listed on the phytosanitary certificate.
Lodging import documentation
If you are importing the produce as cargo, you can use the Cargo Online Lodgement System (COLS) to lodge documentation for us to assess.
You also can get a customs broker to help you.
You may also need to supply other documents.
Step 6: Document check in Australia
A biosecurity officer will review your documents to ensure the fresh produce meets Australia’s import conditions.
Documents required to be provided may include:
- phytosanitary certificate
- import permit
- Treatment certificates
- Manufacturer declarations.
If the documentation we receive is invalid or incomplete, we will not be able to complete the document assessment.
Step 7: Inspection of goods
A biosecurity officer will:
- check the packaging for cleanliness and damage and secure the consignment if necessary
- move the consignment to a biosecurity inspection point where it will be inspected for live insects, weed seeds, diseases and other biosecurity risk material.
- Reconcile seals and markings with documentation.
If no biosecurity concerns are found and all import conditions have been met, the goods are released from biosecurity control to the importer.
Step 8: Further treatment (if required)
This step may apply where live insects or biosecurity risk material are found.
The biosecurity officer will share the results and management options with the importer. The importer will then have the opportunity to choose from the allocated management options.
Depending on the risk posed, the management options may be:
- destroy the goods under approved biosecurity arrangements
- export the goods out of Australia
- fumigate or recondition the goods so they meet Australian requirements
This may be applied to the whole consignment, or just the contaminated part.
Management options are determined on a case-by-case basis. Depending on the risk posed, treating or reconditioning the goods may not be appropriate to manage the risk.
Management options will be undertaken at the importer’s expense.
The goods will remain segregated in a secure facility while we investigate. This may include storage in a cold room at 10oC or below or in a fumigation enclosure.
We do not offer compensation for goods that become unsellable while waiting for scientific assessment.
After the goods are treated
A biosecurity officer will verify that the treatment and/or reconditioning has been completed.
The fresh produce is then released from biosecurity control. It can now enter Australia.
Rewarding consistent compliance
Importers that demonstrate consistent compliance with the import conditions may be eligible for risk-based inspections through the Compliance-Based Intervention Scheme (CBIS).
Find out if you’re eligible for risk-based inspections.
Fees and charges
You are required to cover all fees and charges for services provided by the department and other parties.
For information about fees and charges for:
- import permits, inspections and PEQ at the commonwealth government facility, check our charging guidelines
- treatment, testing or PEQ at facilities in Australia other than the commonwealth government facility, contact the approved arrangement site operator directly
- offshore treatments or testing, contact your supplier or overseas provider
- phytosanitary certification, contact your supplier or the exporting country National Plant Protection Organisation.
Costs for diagnostic testing may vary depending on the type of test.
How we manage pests
Check out our bite-sized biosecurity videos. Each explores ways we work at the border to prevent the arrival of exotic plant pests.
Make sure you’re aware of all your responsibilities for importing goods to Australia.
Email the Imports team or call 1800 900 090.