Australian Trade Barriers

A Hot Tip about Trade Policy and Regulations in Australia

Last updated: 23 Feb 2011


The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) is the federal body responsible for enforcing Australia’s quarantine regulations, including issuing permits and inspecting shipments. It should be noted that the Australian federal government is currently considering overhauling its entire bio-security system, which would involve merging AQIS and Biosecurity Australia.


Australia is a signatory to the WTO “Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures” (April 15, 1994). U.S. exporters, however, may find it difficult to comply with Australia’s import quarantine requirements. Aside from issues relating to the importation of foodstuffs and animals, quarantine measures include a number of other imported products such as: farm, mining and construction machinery, some packaging goods, and other products that may pose a contamination risk to Australia’s agricultural industry or natural environment.


The Australian government enforces its quarantine measures very seriously. Importers have little recourse once a shipment encounters quarantine issues. Machinery imports may require an AQIS-issued import permit. It is a condition of the permit that machinery arrives in a ‘clean’ (refers to “clean as new”) or new state. Australian importers should contact AQIS to determine if they need an import permit. Note: “The classification of machinery as 'new' and 'agricultural' is at AQIS' discretion. For quarantine purposes, new field-tested equipment is classified as ‘used machinery,’ and will require an Import Permit.”


Chemical Import Requirements

There are several agencies that deal with importing chemicals to Australia, depending upon the proposed end use of those chemicals or compounds. The primary agency responsible for chemical imports is the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS)


The Australian importer is responsible for notifying the relevant agency of the chemical it is importing to Australia. The Australian importer may be a local subsidiary of a U.S. firm, an agent, or an end-user. The importer usually completes the required paperwork. Given the high level of regulation, U.S. exporters may find it complicated to export chemicals into Australia. They should find Australian agents or importers familiar with requirements.


U.S. exporters may also need to ensure that products comply with the Australian Dangerous Goods Code requirements, which are based upon international standards. State-based government health and safety agencies enforce these codes.




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Posted: 06 January 2010, last updated 23 February 2011

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