Australia - Country Commercial Guide
Prohibited & Restricted Imports
Last published date:

Australia has stringent prohibitions and quarantine restrictions against numerous products, particularly those considered to be of potential public danger and agricultural products that are considered to have the potential to introduce pests or disease (see section below). Restricted items include drugs, steroids, weapons/firearms, heritage items, food, plants and animals, and protected wildlife. It is important to note that while some items may be imported, their use may be prohibited under individual State laws.

Sanitary and Phytosanitary Restrictions Affecting Imports

Australia has very strict sanitary and phytosanitary restrictions affecting imports of fresh fruit and vegetables and imports of meat and poultry products. Under Australia’s quarantine and inspection process, foreign-grown agricultural commodities must undergo a biosecurity import risk analysis (BIRA) process before they can enter the country.  A BIRA to determine how and if the risk can be managed will take a minimum of two years to complete.  Australia’s “acceptable level of protection” is considered extremely restrictive, making access to the Australian market often difficult, expensive, time-consuming, and in some cases, virtually impossible.

All fresh produce usually needs an Australian import permit and a U.S. phytosanitary certificate. The import permit can be requested (by the importer) from the Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment (DAWE) in Canberra.

When applying for import permits, as much detail as possible should be provided as to where the product is grown and how it is processed, so that the appropriate advice on treatments can be given without having to request additional information from the U.S. exporter.

All meat and poultry products must be accompanied by an Australian Import Permit and appropriate Animal Health Certificate and must originate from a plant approved for export to Australia.

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) maintains a detailed database on their website – Biosecurity Import Conditions (BICON) – for most agricultural products. If a product is not listed in BICON it is highly likely that that product is not permitted entry to Australia at this time. The Department also maintains a website which provides checklists of the information that is required to accompany permit applications to import biological products (this includes food products). It is very important that U.S. exporters rely on these websites only for general information regarding import regulations. Exporters must work with their Australian importer to ensure that ALL requirements are met. The import permit will set out the exact requirements for entry - this can differ markedly from country-to-country and from commodity-to-commodity and even from different regions within a country.

Additional information on Australian requirements for imported packaged food, requirements for animals and animal products, documents for public comment (including import risk analyses), fee schedules, online forms, WTO Sanitary & Phytosanitary notifications, etc. is also available on the DAWE website. This information is updated regularly. Guidance on import requirements is also available in the FAIRS report mentioned in the Labeling and Marking Requirements section above.