80-2016 - Front counter changes

​23 August 2016

Who does this notice affect?

Commercial clients lodging import documentation for biosecurity assessment at departmental premises.

What has changed?

Import documents requiring a biosecurity assessment will no longer be accepted over the counter.

The department has invested in, deployed and continues to enhance, the Cargo Online Lodgement System (COLS) for import documentation requiring a biosecurity assessment.

COLS has streamlined the process of document lodgement and assessment through the use of modern technology, allowing clients to lodge import documentation online, reducing previous inefficiencies and increasing transparency of the assessment process.

A user guide, questions & answers and tips for using the system have been updated and are also available on our website.

What does this mean?

As of 5pm (in the respective time zone) on Friday 9 September 2016, departmental staff will no longer accept import documentation over the counter, except for when original documents have been requested.

Contingency plans (systems outage)

Should a COLS system outage occur (as identified in an Industry Advice issued by the department), limited import documentation will be accepted over the counter in impacted locations.

In this circumstance, documentation will only be accepted to facilitate urgent and perishable consignments. Urgent and perishable is defined as per the table below:

Urgent and perishable category


Live Animals

Require rapid clearance to limit suffering of live animals.

Urgent medical

To facilitate community protection due to  medical emergencies (e.g. blood, medication, medical equipment)

Emergency Freight

To facilitate community protection from natural disasters (e.g. firefighting helicopters)

Hazardous materials

Impeding movement of this cargo may present an unacceptable risk.

Genetic Material

Cryogenic containers with dry ice may be damaged with potential hazard risks

Perishable air freight

Goods may be damaged; Container Terminal Operators (CTOs) may not have the appropriate facilities to keep goods chilled (e.g. Cut flowers, live plants, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables & chilled finfish)

Industry will be advised of lodgement arrangements in the event of an extended COLS outage.

Further information

For more information on COLS please go to our website.

COLS does not accept lodgement of the following commodities:

  • Carnets
  • Military consignments
  • Ship stores and
  • Transshipment requests.

Lodgement of documentation for these commodities should continue to be sent to our Import Assessment email address. This email address can also continue to be used for:

  • Imported Food Laboratory nomination forms
  • Overtime booking requests and
  • Payments (subject to the above commodities).

The SACNCC email will continue to operate and will also now include:

  • All Upgraded Self Assessed Clearances and
  • Movement Advice for Animal Transport Equipment.

If you would like to provide feedback or have a question regarding COLS, please email us COLS Transition.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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