Importing seeds for sowing to Australia
The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment sets conditions for seeds that are imported to Australia to be planted and grown (seeds for sowing). These conditions protect Australia from the risk of imported seeds introducing exotic weeds and diseases that could harm our environment and economy.
All import conditions for seeds are detailed in the department’s Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON).
Import conditions vary depending on the genus and species of the plant or seed, and a range of other factors including country of export. BICON provides specific import conditions for the seeds you wish to import.
Conditions for import may include:
- A permit: some seeds require an import permit to enter Australia. All seeds that are genetically modified or derived from genetically modified plants require an import permit regardless of the type of seed. 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 seeds that require a permit, but arrive 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.
- A phytosanitary certificate: some seed consignments will also require a phytosanitary certificate issued by the National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) of the exporting country.
- Cleanliness, packaging and labelling: the shipment will need to be packed in clean, new packaging, clearly labelled with the full botanical name (genus and species) and must be free of live insects, soil, disease symptoms, prohibited seeds, other plant material (including leaf, stem material, fruit pulp, pod material) and animal material (including animal faeces and feathers).
- Inspection: all seed consignments require inspection by biosecurity officers on arrival in Australia.
- ISTA testing: some imported seeds will require testing in accordance with International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) procedures and analysis in an approved laboratory, either before being shipped or on arrival in Australia. All seed consignments imported into Australia for all end uses must meet the department’s standards for seed contaminants and tolerances.
- Treatment: some seeds will require treatment either before shipment or on arrival in Australia using methods set by the department.
- Post entry quarantine (PEQ): some high risk seeds will require a period of growth and screening at an appropriate approved arrangement site or the Commonwealth Government’s PEQ facility, as specified in BICON.
New plant introductions (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 import conditions will be developed.
Fees and charges
Importing activities and services provided by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and other parties attract fees and charges. These include:
- import permit applications
- documentation assessments
- post entry quarantine
Details of costs for services provided by department, including import permits, inspection and post entry quarantine at the Commonwealth PEQ facility, can be found in the department’s charging guidelines.
Please contact us on 1800 900 090 or email the Import Services Team for more information.