Importing from China to Australia
The import cargo and shipping industries are important sectors of Australian commerce. The Department of Agriculture works closely with them to protect the country from dangerous pests and diseases overseas.
If you are importing from China to Australia, you should know about the Australian biosecurity requirements and your responsibilities for importing goods into the country.
If you are product sourcing from China, this section also includes information about the Department’s approved arrangements and listing the high-risk cargo pests.
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Import Goods to Australia
If you import from China to Australia, you must comprehend your responsibilities as an importer and the conditions for import that will apply to your goods’ nature.
If you comply with these requirements, this will minimize costly delays and maintain the Australian Government’s objectives of keeping out all biosecurity risks outside Australia.
Use the BICON, the Biosecurity Import Conditions System to determine whether the commodities that you are importing from China to Australia:
- is allowed
- is subject to import conditions
- requires additional documentation
- requires treatment before entry
- needs an import permit.
Import permits are usually issued within 20 working days if the application is completed and paid in full. The issuance takes longer if:
- they require technical evaluation
- incomplete or incorrect information is supplied by the applicant
- additional information is required
- it is a novel product or has been prepared in a novel manner.
Before you Import Goods to Australia
The Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment agency is strict with managing pest and disease risks linked with products, containers, ships, and aircraft arriving in Australia. You have a responsibility as an importer to know the import conditions that apply to your products.
You can determine if your goods are importable into Australia through the BICON (Biosecurity Import Conditions System). There are also special conditions that apply to imports into Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and Norfolk Island. Imported food should also be in compliance with the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
Fees and charges apply to the import and clearance of goods. And these goods should also be declared to the Department of Home Affairs. If you are an infrequent importer, it is advised that you seek assistance.
Preparing to Import
Before your products leave China, they should meet the stringent import requirements set by the Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment.
If you import from China, follow these guidelines:
1) Use A Clean Container
- The container should be free of contamination internally and externally from elements that include soil, snails, grain, insects, or plant and animal material. Any contamination will be treated, and thus, delays will be incurred, and charges will apply.
- A Cleanliness Declaration is required.
- The containers should meet the Sea Container Cleaning Standards.
2) Provide a Packing Declaration
- Have accurate and detailed packing information.
- The declaration should provide container cleanliness details, and if straw and timber are used as packing materials.
3) Timber Packing should be treated and be bark-free
- All timber packaging should be pre-approved and be free of bark.
- If timber dunnage was used in the loading of goods, there must be a valid treatment certificate.
4) Treatments can be performed offshore
- An Approved Offshore Treatment Provider should perform the treatment.
- Find out if your goods require treatment through the BICON.
5) Choose packing materials carefully
- Use packing materials such as plastics, synthetic foam, metal frames, inflated dunnage, wool, wood, shredded paper, and other similar materials.
- Straw is prohibited. Also fruit, vegetable, meat or egg cartons, second hand bags or sacks. These materials will be destroyed.
Arrival of Goods in Australia
The Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment consider containers at higher risk for pests and diseases if the containers are:
- arriving from high-risk ports from abroad, and are known to have significant biosecurity pests (refer to Country Action List – high-risk pests)
- traveling to or through rural areas (refer to Unpack Destination).
On imported sea containers and non-containerised or breakbulk cargo, Australia prohibits a range of high-risk pests and other contaminants such as soil. High-risk pests include giant African snails, black spined toads, exotic bees, and ants.
If the containers and the breakbulk come from countries on the Country Action List (CAL), there should be a full-sided inspection of internal and external surfaces of empty containers prior to release from the terminal.
If the containers are set to be unpacked in rural areas, they are subject to rural tailgate inspection. This involves directing containers to an Approved Arrangement (AA) site and then inspecting all outside surfaces of the container before opening the doors and assessing for pests. Plant substance and other non-compliant packaging.
Biosecurity incidents should be reported as soon as possible to minimize the risk of pests and diseases entering Australia. Immediate reporting is required by law.
Clearance and Inspection
If you are importing from China to Australia, provide all the necessary documents together with your goods. This will decrease the likelihood that your container will need to be opened and inspected.
The inspection will be facilitated on arrival at the seaport or airport of first entry or at a third party site approved by the Department. All break bulk goods (without container) are inspected immediately after unloading from the transport vessel. International repositioned empty shipping containers are facilitated through Class 2.6 Empty Shipping Container parks.
Third parties enter into arrangements with the Department to supply biosecurity inspection services for goods entering Australia. They include Approved Arrangement sites, biosecurity waste management services, and Compliance Agreements (cargo and containers).
Goods that don’t meet requirements and cannot be treated are either exported back or disposed at the importer’s expense.
Industry Advice Notices
If you import goods from China, you always have to be updated with new notices and information from the Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment. These new data might impact the way you do business with your product sourcing and importation from China, so it would be essential to be always alerted about new legislation and regulations.
Subscribe to the following alerts so you will not miss any new information:
Be also informed about existing Advice Notices:
- Import industry advice notices 2022
- Import industry advice notices 2021
- Import industry advice notices 2020
- Import industry advice notices 2019
- Import industry advice notices 2018
- Import industry advice notices 2017
- Import industry advice notices 2016
If you import goods like pork jerky and pork biltong from China, they will not be permitted entry because of new measures to minimize the risk of Swine Fever in Australia.
The Biosecurity Act of 2015 requires that all food imports comply with biosecurity conditions for their import. The following items are restricted:
- eggs and egg products
- dairy products
- uncanned meat
- seeds and nuts
- fresh fruits and vegetables
Australia and New Zealand have made several official and mutual agreements regarding food entry. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is the government body responsible for developing and maintaining the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
FSANZ monitors the food safety incidents worldwide and provides instructions to the Department on the monitoring and testing of imported food. It imposes restrictions on food that are considered medium to high risk to human health.
In addition to national food policies, state and territory legislation on food policy are also given due recognition and implementation.
Aircraft and Vessel
All aircraft and vessels from China that arrive in Australia are subject to biosecurity requirements.
Requirements for international aircraft include human health notification, aircraft waste disposal, aircraft disinfection, and compulsory passenger announcement.
Maritime vessels comply with international health regulations, and biosecurity risks should be monitored. Exotic pests and diseases should not enter Australian soil.
List of Goods that may Carry Hitchhiker Pests
When importing from China to Australia, a class of goods is listed as probably carrying Hitchhiker Pests.
Seasonal Measures for Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB)
Product sourcing from China requires seasonal measures to manage the risk of BMSB, which has rapidly spread throughout Europe and North America. The Department has used scientific, intelligence, and evidence-based information, including data collected from the 2019 to 2020 season. Heightened biosecurity measures will be applied to:
- Certain goods manufactured or shipped from target risk countries
- Vessels that berth, load, or tranship from target risk countries.