116-2016 – Revised process for postcode delivery classification for imported shipping containers

​​9 December 2016

Who does this notice affect?

Importers and brokers involved in the import of containerised goods destined for unpack in rural areas.


All shipping containers destined to be unpacked in rural areas are subject to tailgate inspections prior to delivery. A ‘rural tailgate’, as it is known, involves inspecting all external surfaces of the container before opening the doors and checking for obvious signs of pests, plant material and non-compliant packaging.

These inspections are necessary to protect Australia’s agricultural industries, unique environment and human health status from hitchhiker pests or other contaminants that may arrive in or on the containers. Rural areas are targeted due to the increased risk of pests dislodging from the containers in transit and establishing in these areas. The department uses delivery postcodes as an indicator of land use and classifies the postcodes from a biosecurity perspective as either Metropolitan, Rural or Split (part metropolitan, part rural). Current classifications can be found on the department’s website under Postcode classification search.

What has changed?

The department has refined the process for how rural postcodes can be reclassified to be consistent with changing land use patterns. The process only applies to rural postcodes that:

  • are adjacent to a metropolitan area, or a port that is determined under the Biosecurity Act 2015 to be a first point of entry into Australia
  • do not have a council land zoning classification that relates to farming, forestry, primary production or identifies the area as national parks, nature reserves or waterways.

The assessment process can vary but will often involve an analysis of container delivery data for that postcode, including inspection results, and a physical site inspection to determine the biosecurity risks enroute and how these might be managed.

Applications for reclassification can be submitted online and emailed to the department at Cargo and Mail section. They must be accompanied by:

  • Google Maps or Zoom Earth map showing the postcode
  • zoning document from the local council website, including the webpage URL address, showing the postcode land classification.

Applications will be reviewed in the order they are received. Depending on the degree of assessment required and volume of requests, the assessment may take up to ninety days to finalise from the date the application is received.

Further information

More information is available on the department’s website or you can contact the department on 1800 900 090 or email the Cargo and Mail section.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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