Importing live plants into Australia
Reservations for plants at our Mickleham post entry quarantine (PEQ) facility can now be managed using our Post Entry Biosecurity System (PEBS).
Notice to import industry: changes to import requirements to protect against Xylella
The Australian Government is strengthening the import requirements for a number of plant species to safeguard Australia against the bacterial plant pathogen Xylella (Xylella fastidiosa). For more information, see:
Imported live plant material can introduce foreign plant pests and diseases that could be harmful to Australia’s environment, agriculture and economy. To protect against this risk, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment sets conditions for the import of all live plant material to Australia.
Types of live plant material
Live plant material (Nursery Stock) is defined as all live plants or plant material, other than seeds, that is imported for purposes of growth and/or propagation, including:
- Grafting wood
- Tissue cultures
Import conditions vary depending on the genus and species of the plant and the form of the imported plant material.
Full details of conditions for the importation of live plant material to Australia can be found in the department’s Biosecurity import conditions system (BICON).
Process for importing live plant material
If you want to import live plant material to Australia, follow these steps to make sure that you meet all import conditions, and packaging and treatment requirements.
Check import conditions and apply for an Import Permit
Before importing live plant material to Australia, use BICON to:
- Make sure the species you wish to import is allowed into Australia and carefully check all conditions and requirements of entry.
- Submit an application for an import permit, issued by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.
- Check if your plants must go into a government post entry quarantine (PEQ) facility or must undergo post entry quarantine at an approved arrangement site on arrival. An import permit will not be issued until appropriate post entry quarantine arrangements have been made.
For plants entering the Mickleham post entry quarantine (PEQ) facility please use the booking system: Post Entry Biosecurity System (PEBS).
Importers are responsible for ensuring that their suppliers are aware of and comply with Australia’s import requirements.
Failure to meet the conditions outlined in BICON and on the import permit may result in your plants not being permitted entry into Australia.
As of 9 April 2018, the department will no longer facilitate the clearance of conditionally non-prohibited goods that arrive without the required import permit. Therefore live plant material that require an import permit, but arrives without one, including where an application is currently under consideration, will be directed for export from Australian territory or required to be destroyed in an approved manner.
Select healthy plants and obtain a phytosanitary certificate
Select plants which are healthy, show no signs of disease and are free of insects and snails to help meet inspection and clearance requirements.
To help your plants stay healthy through transportation to Australia and complete post entry quarantine requirements without delay:
- avoid plants or plant material with soft, tender new growth
- choose plants that have hardened off
- if the plant is deciduous, send it when it is just about to emerge from dormancy
- if the plant is a perennial (such as bulbs, corms, tubers), send when dormant.
The national plant protection organisation (NPPO) of the country of export will need to inspect the plants and issue a phytosanitary certificate prior to export.
BICON and the Import Permit will specify if any additional declarations are required on the phytosanitary certificate.
Prepare and pack plants appropriately
Preparing your plants for transport will help make sure that they are in suitable condition when they are inspected on arrival in Australia.
- Label all plants with their botanical name (Genus and species). If individual species need to be identified, ensure labels are attached securely to each plant.
- All soil must be removed. It is recommended plants are imported bare rooted, where all growing media (soil, peat etc) has been removed and the roots have been cleaned.
- If necessary, permitted packing material can be used to help decrease the risk of damage to the plant during transport. Search BICON for “Packing materials and packaging of plants” for information on acceptable packaging materials.
To help your plants stay healthy during transportation and inspection, it is recommended that you:
- avoid any constricting ties that may bruise the plants
- remove excessive foliage and flowers to reduce transpiration and dehydration in transit
- ensure plants do not arrive established in the growing/packing media – removal of this material during inspection by Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment officers may damage the plants and delay clearance.
Submit notice of importation
A Notice of Importation (NOI) form must be completed and faxed or emailed to the relevant Nursery Stock office prior to the plants arriving in Australia.
- For Full Container Load consignments the NOI must be received prior to shipment of the container.
- For all other consignments the NOI must be received at least 7 working days prior to the arrival of the consignment.
Shipping plants to Australia and lodging appropriate documentation
Requirements for submitting the necessary documentation will vary depending on how you import your plants.
When selecting your method of importation, keep in mind to:
- minimise the shipping time for perishable plants (airfreight is generally the fastest)
- use temperature controlled shipping to maintain optimal plant health
- obtain assistance from a customs broker or agent who can help you with clearance procedures and the lodgement of documentation with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.
If you send your plant through the mail or airfreight:
- Clearly mark on the parcel “Attention Biosecurity - Live Plant Material”.
- Address the parcel as per the instructions in BICON. This will generally be either directly to the government PEQ facility or care of a Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment Nursery Stock/Seed Unit at the relevant department office.
- Have a copy of your import permit, packing list, invoice, phytosanitary certificate and other documents in an envelope both inside and securely attached to the outside of the parcel.
If you bring the plants in as accompanied baggage:
- You must declare them on your incoming passengers’ card and present the plants on arrival to the Biosecurity staff along with a copy of your import permit and any other required documents.
- The plants may be taken from you and sent to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment office.
On arrival procedures: inspection, treatment and post entry quarantine (PEQ)
On arrival, your goods will be directed by a biosecurity officer for:
- treatment (if required)
- post entry growth and disease screening to verify the plant material is free of pests and diseases.
The facility where the inspection and treatment occur will be based on risk criteria:
- Plant material classified as ‘high risk’ by the department will be taken directly to the government post entry quarantine (PEQ) facility at Mickleham.
- All other live plant material, will be directed to an appropriate approved arrangement site.
Plants will then undergo growth and disease screening and testing at the designated PEQ facility as per the requirements specified on BICON and the import permit. The amount of time the plants spend in a PEQ facility is dependent on the biosecurity risks they pose and the specific testing required.
Note: Plants imported as a bonsai - Importers should note that special attention, to maintain bonsai characteristics (training, pruning, etc.), will not be given to bonsai plants undergoing growth, screening and testing at the government PEQ facility.
Once all required testing and screening procedures have taken place and the plants are deemed to be free of any biosecurity concern, the department will release the goods to the importer.
Importers are responsible for meeting all import conditions and covering all associated costs for services provided by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and other parties. This includes the costs of import permits, documentation assessments, inspections, treatments, PEQ growth and disease screening (including any testing required).
Information on costs associated with import documentation and processes:
- Import permit, inspection and PEQ at the commonwealth government facility: check the department’s charging guidelines.
- Phytosanitary certification: contact your supplier or the NPPO of the country of export.
- Fumigation: contact your fumigation provider.
- PEQ in facilities other than the commonwealth government facility: contact the approved arrangement site operator directly.
New plant introductions (plant species not listed on BICON)
If you want to import a species that is not listed on BICON, you can complete and submit a New plant introduction form.
The information you provide on the form will be used by the department to conduct a weed risk assessment of the species, after which the department may choose to develop import conditions for the new species.
Any additional information you can provide will assist the department with this process. Seeds cannot be imported until the department has developed import conditions for the species. Please note the weed risk assessment process can take time, and there is no guarantee that the submission with result in new import conditions being developed.
Contact details for government post entry quarantine (PEQ)
Commonwealth Post Entry Plant Quarantine Facility
Mickleham post entry quarantine facility
Bookings: Use our Post Entry Biosecurity System to make or manage a reservation.
Other inquiries: 1800 900 090
State Government Post Entry Plant Quarantine Stations
South Perth (08) 9368 3460
Urrbrae (08) 8303 9381