Sea container delivery postcode classifications

​​​​​​Sea Container delivery postcode classifications

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment uses postcode classifications to manage the risk associated with unpack destinations for sea containers. There are three postcode classifications:

  • metropolitan
  • rural
  • split (part metropolitan, part rural).

Importers, consumers and brokers are required to make a declaration in the Department of Home Affairs’ Integrated Cargo System (ICS) regarding the unpack destination of the consignment. The ICS declaration determines the department’s postcode classification.

Rural tailgate inspections

All sea containers being unpacked in rural destinations within Australia are subject to a rural tailgate inspection prior to delivery. A rural tailgate inspection involves directing containers to an approved arrangement (AA) site, inspecting all external surfaces of the container before opening the doors and checking for biosecurity risks including signs of:

  • pests
  • plant material
  • non-compliant packaging.

Rural postcode reclassifications

The department has refined the process of how rural postcodes are assessed for reclassification. This nationally consistent approach contributes to the department’s ability to remain in-line with current land use trends as Australian metropolitan areas expand into rural locations. The process only applies to rural postcodes that:

  • be 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.

To check if your postcode is adjacent to a metropolitan area, refer to the postcode classification search. For more information on land use classifications, check Australian Land Use and Management Classification​ (ALUM).

Applying for a rural postcode reclassification

Stakeholders can apply for a rural postcode reclassification. Applications for reclassification can be submitted online and emailed to the department at Postcode Classifications. The application form 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.


Document Pages File size
Application for rural postcode reclassification PDF 2 216 KB

If you have difficulty accessing these files, visit web accessibility for assistance.

Assessing your application

On receipt of eligible applications, the department will conduct an assessment comprising of:

  • a desk audit
  • biosecurity risk analysis
  • sea container delivery data, if required
  • a physical site inspection, if required.

Applications for rural postcode reclassification are reviewed in the order they are received and are not automatically approved. 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, sometimes longer.

Application outcomes

A successful reclassification outcome means a rural postcode is reclassified to either:

  • metropolitan, or
  • split (part rural, part metropolitan).

Sea containers delivered to postcodes reclassified to metropolitan will no longer require rural tailgate inspections. For split postcodes, you must check the postcode classification search to ascertain if your area falls within the metropolitan or rural zone. Sea containers being delivered to rural areas within split postcodes will continue to be subject to rural tailgate inspections.

Benefits to Industry

The impacts on industry for sea containers delivered to metropolitan areas include:

  • relieved pressure in the freight supply chain
  • importers and consumers in the newly reclassified metropolitan area will benefit from faster clearance of goods
  • cost savings to importers through reduced rural tailgate inspections
  • some Approved Arrangements (AA) sites and transport providers who previously serviced these inspections will see a reduction in demand.

Further information

For more information, please contact the department on 1800 900 090 or email.

Last reviewed: 4 February 2020
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