Importing bulk grain for stockfeed and milling

Australia has strict requirements and a long-established policy to ensure that importing bulk grain does not compromise our vital biosecurity status.

Imported bulk grain poses a high biosecurity risk. It can provide a direct pathway for exotic pests and diseases that can harm humans, animals, crops and the environment.

Significant plant pests and animal diseases that can enter Australia with bulk grain include:

If introduced, they could devastate our livestock industries, have a significant impact on our grains industries, harm the natural environment and damage Australia’s reputation as an exporter.

We work with industry to manage the associated biosecurity risks with imported bulk grain to a very low level under the Biosecurity Act 2015.

See our:

Current situation

Businesses have historically sought to import bulk grain for a variety of commercial reasons. This includes supplementing short supplies of domestic grain during drought periods. The last time grain was imported was in 2007. Canola was imported from Canada, soybean from Brazil and sunflower from Argentina.

With drought affecting large portions of grain growing areas of eastern Australia, businesses are seeking to import certain classes of bulk grain from overseas. This grain is then processed into stockfeed and milling products.

Since September 2018, we have received 25 applications to import bulk grain from the USA and Canada. The applications cover canola, corn, oats, sorghum and wheat.

Sixteen permits have been issued for imports of bulk wheat from Canada. The other applications are in varying stages of assessment or have been withdrawn by the applicant.

Read the permit conditions we’ve set for imports of bulk wheat from Canada.

Applying to import

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Before you apply

  • check our importing bulk grain guideline to see what you need to supply with your application. The guideline includes an outline of the processes involved in importing bulk grain and the requirements for the management of risks associated with grain following entry into Australia
  • contact us for advice on eligible countries and pathways.

Apply for a permit

To apply for a permit you must:

When we receive your application, we will:

  • undertake an initial country health status assessment
  • check all information is supplied
  • assess the application and undertake a desk audit
  • conduct a readiness site inspection
  • complete a site audit of the proposed onshore import pathway including any approved arrangements and the proximity of these to agricultural areas
  • advise you of the outcome of our assessment
  • provide a draft copy of the permit with a request for details of the vessel proposed to carry the consignment
  • approve the vessel
  • issue the permit.

We will only assess your application when you have supplied all required information.

Assessing the application

We will not issue a permit unless we are satisfied that the proposed importation can reduce the biosecurity risks to an acceptable level.

We will assess the applicant’s intended source country, including the:

  • scientific and economic evidence for a potential pest, weed or pathogen species of biosecurity concern to Australia
  • how that pest, weed or pathogen is regulated in the source country
  • the management actions required to reduce the risk of its entry and spread within Australia.

We will verify the:

  • presence or absence of pests of biosecurity concern and pest control practices
  • systems in place for producing, harvesting, storing, transporting and processing of grain in the source country.

We will audit the systems and processes to be used in Australia to verify the associated biosecurity risks can be managed onshore. This includes visiting the proposed storage and processing facilities.

We will check the importer’s proposed PMS to verify that the systems and processes in place for the entire import pathway —from the farm to the onshore processing facility—manage the biosecurity risks to a very low level.

See our completed pathway analyses for importing bulk grain from various countries

Desk audit

Takes approximately 2 weeks, if all required information is supplied.

Our auditors check that facilities are managing biosecurity risks to acceptable levels. Areas we audit include:

  • country biosecurity status
  • crop production methods
  • pre-discharge hygiene
  • transport
  • storage
  • post-production integrity to limit contamination
  • export loading pathways
  • processing method (temperatures and duration)
  • waste management
  • emergency recovery procedures.

Onsite audit

Typically takes 1- 3 days.

We audit the onshore part of the import pathway to confirm the pathway is working using domestic grain.

Importer pays all associated costs.

If we find no non-conformances, we will issue a draft import permit. Following issuance of the permit we may inform domestic stakeholders of the import, excluding any confidential information.

If we find non-conformances, you will need to remedy them and provide evidence they have been fixed. We may need to conduct another audit as part of this process.

Assessment outcome

We decide to issue or refuse to issue a permit to import grain to Australia based on the outcomes of our assessments.

We issue a permit for only one shipment of grain. You will need to apply for any further shipments of grain.

The permit sets out how the importer must manage risks –from the overseas farm to the processing facility in Australia.  These permit conditions are legally enforceable.

If we find that an importer has not complied with one or more of these conditions we will suspend or revoke the import permit. The shipment of grain may be re-exported. We may also refuse to issue another permit to an importer if corrective action has not been taken to address the non-compliance.

We may also suspend or revoke an approved arrangement (e.g. a storage or processing facility) if we find them not complying with their approved arrangement conditions. This may impact an importer’s ability to import grain in to Australia.

We also survey for pests of biosecurity concern at the port precinct, along the transport route and at the approved arrangement sites. This is part of our national border surveillance program.


All time spent assessing an import permit (including desk audits) is cost recovered.

There is a scheduled fee of $120 (electronic lodgement) plus a $360 assessment fee. The assessment fee covers the first 3 hours of your assessment. Extra assessment time is charged at $40 per ¼ hour.

See our charging guidelines for more details.

To minimise assessment charges, please ensure all the information you provide is accurate.

You will be responsible for some or all of the costs associated with any site inspection. For overseas site inspections, this includes airfares, accommodation, meals and fee for service costs.

Managing confidential information

The decision to import grain is a commercial decision by the importer.

We handle any information we receive in line with our Privacy Policy. We can only use or disclose information as authorised under the Biosecurity Act 2015 and the Privacy Act 1988. This includes public commercial information provided to us in confidence.

More information

Need help?

Email the Imports team or call 1800 900 090.

Last reviewed: 28 September 2020
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