Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment-

Department of Agriculture

Australia has some of the richest and most diverse environmental landscapes in the world. While our geographical isolation has played a key role in protecting the nation from the world’s most severe pests and diseases, our isolation as an island nation is rapidly changing as the barriers of time and distance become less relevant and international travel and trade increase. This is where Australia’s strict and comprehensive biosecurity regulations come in. Biosecurity controls at Australia’s borders minimise the risk of exotic pests and diseases entering Australia and protect our $32 billion agriculture export industries as well as our unique environment and, native flora and fauna.

Australia’s Biosecurity rules and regulations are managed by the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, established in February 2020, encompasses the responsibilities of a number of former Departments including Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS), Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), Biosecurity Australia, Department of Environment and Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR).

Their responsibilities include:

          • Biosecurity regulations for imported products
          • Biosecurity regulations for exported products
          • Cargo Quarantine Controls
          • Order cargo treatment, exportation and destruction
          • Human and passenger quarantine controls
          • Farming, food and drought policies and services
          • Water management and sustainability

Biosecurity on Import

One of the most crucial responsibilities of the Department is governing Australia’s Import Biosecurity to prevent, respond to and recover from pests and diseases that threaten the economy and environment.

The department’s responsibilities and powers for imported products are defined in the Biosecurity Act 2015, Biosecurity Regulation 2016 and associated legislation.

Goods likely to have a high biosecurity risk include (but not limited to):

        • Articles and/or packaging containing plant material (including wood)
        • Articles and/or packaging containing animal material (including leather, feathers, shells etc.)
        • Soil, sand, fertilizers
        • Food
        • Secondhand articles and Personal effects
        • Used Equipment and Machinery
        • Articles containing or used in water

For importation into Australia some products may require import permits, some may be permitted entry into Australia subject to meeting specific import conditions that mitigate the biosecurity risk, whilst some may be prohibited entirely. For this reason, it is important to check the biosecurity conditions that may apply to your products prior to having them shipped or they may be forced to undergo costly treatments, re-exportation or destruction.

Fortunately, the Department provides a publicly available database for more than 20,000 plants, animals, minerals and biological products to help you determine whether a commodity intended for import into Australia:

        • is permitted
        • is subject to import conditions
        • requires supporting documentation
        • ​requires treatment
        • needs an import permit.

This database is called ‘BICON’ for ‘Biosecurity Import Conditions’ and can be accessed here: BICON

Biosecurity on Export

To assure other countries and trading partners that Australian products meet their import requirements, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment regulates the export of certain agricultural products.

The department’s responsibilities and powers are defined in the Export Control Act 1982 and associated legislation.

This legislation covers commodities that most trading partners around the world want to be managed by a government authority. These commodities are known as ‘prescribed’ goods and may require the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment to perform different services and/or provide certificates.

Prescribed good, or goods included in a class of prescribed good, include:

        • dairy products
        • eggs and egg products
        • fish and fish products
        • fresh fruit and vegetables
        • grains and seeds
        • hay and straw
        • live animals
        • meat and meat products
        • organic produce
        • plants and plant products

To assist exporters of Australian agricultural products of both prescribed and non-prescribed goods, the department maintains the Manual of Importing Country Requirements (MICoR) which provides information for import requirements in different countries.

MICoR provides guidance on importing country requirements for:

        • meat—fresh meat, processed meat, animal by-products (e.g. skins, hides, pet food, rendered products, technical products)
        • dairy—milk, milk powder products, butter, cream, cheese, other processed dairy products
        • plants—fruit, vegetables, nursery stock, cut flowers and foliage, seeds, grains, stockfeed, timber
        • fish—finfish, other seafood (e.g. bivalves, crustaceans, echinoderms, gastropods, cephalopods, tunicates), crocodile meat
        • live animals—livestock, companion animals, horses, zoo animals, birds and hatching eggs, fish, bees and other invertebrates, reproductive material
        • eggs—shell eggs, egg products
        • goods not prescribed in the Act—honey and bee by-products, processed foods.