Australia has stringent prohibitions and quarantines against a number of 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. 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 stringent sanitary and phytosanitary restrictions affecting imports of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, and poultry products. Under Australia’s quarantine and inspection process, foreign-grown agricultural commodities must have an import risk analysis (IRA) before entering the country. An IRA to determine how and if the risk can be managed can take an average of two years to complete. Australia’s “acceptable level of protection” is considered extremely restrictive, making access to the Australian market often difficult, expensive, and time-consuming.
All produce should have an Australian import permit and a U.S. phytosanitary certificate. The import permit can be requested from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Australia in Canberra, or from the appropriate Departments of Agriculture, located in every state’s capital. The permit may specify additional import requirements. 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 USDA Animal Health Certificate. These products must originate from a plant approved for export to Australia.
The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) maintains a detailed database on their website of import conditions for most agricultural products. If a product is not listed in ICON, it is likely that that product is not permitted entry to Australia at this time. AQIS 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).food products).
Both these websites are currently undergoing updates/reviews so it is important that U.S. exporters check the websites regularly to obtain the most up-to-date information. 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, on-line forms, WTO Sanitary & Phytosanitary notifications, etc. is also available on the AQIS website.