Infringement Notice Scheme

​​Travellers to Australia and importers need to be aware of the penalties for not complying with biosecurity requirements.

On 16 June 2016, the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Biosecurity Act) came into effect and introduced a wide range of modern regulatory tools to manage compliance. This included a broad new Infringement Notice Scheme (INS) comprising of 49 infringements which can be issued in airports, seaports, and for cargo and ballast water.

Infringement notices provide an administrative method for dealing with certain breaches of the law and are typically used for low-level offences. An infringement notice provides an alternative to prosecution for a contravention or litigation of a civil matter.

If you are issued with an infringement notice and choose to pay the amount specified in the notice on time, all guilt or liability regarding the alleged contravention is discharged. If you choose not to pay, then proceedings to seek a civil penalty order may be brought against you. The court may then impose the maximum penalty for the contravention.

Infringement notices at the airport

The INS has four contraventions in an airport where an infringement can be issued.

These include:

  • failing to answer questions or provide information in writing in relation to goods
  • failing to follow directions relating to the movement of goods
  • knowingly providing false and misleading information or providing information that omitted any matter or thing without which the information was misleading
  • knowingly producing a false or misleading document in compliance or purported compliance with the Biosecurity Act.

A biosecurity officer can issue multiple infringement notices to you if you have committed multiple contraventions that are subject to an infringement notice.

Three of the contraventions have a requirement to pay on the spot, which means you must pay at the Australian Border Force Duty Counter prior to leaving the airport (unless an extension has been granted by the biosecurity officer at the time of issue).

The three contraventions that have a payment period of on-the-spot are:

  • s 126(2): Failing to answer questions, or provide information in writing in relation to goods, as required by a biosecurity officer under s 126(1).
  • s 128(2): not complying with a biosecurity officer’s direction/s under s 128(1):
    • not to move, deal with or interfere with goods
    • to move goods, as soon as practicable, to a place specified by the biosecurity officer
    • any other direction relating to the movement of goods.
  • s 532(1): Knowingly providing information that is:
    • false or misleading
    • omits any matter or thing without which the information is misleading when you were required to answer a question or provide information in relation to goods under s 126(1) or s 196(2).

The scheme also has one contravention where an infringement has a standard 28 day payment period. This infringement is for:

s 533(1): Knowingly producing a document/s that is false or misleading in compliance or purported compliance with the Act.

How much is my infringement notice?

Under most Commonwealth laws, financial penalties are generally expressed in terms of ‘penalty units’ instead of dollar figures. Section 4AA of the Crimes Act 1914 sets the monetary amount of a penalty unit, which as of 1 July 2017 will be $210.

The amount payable under each the four infringement notices that can be issued to you in an airport is 2 penalty units or $420.

On 1 July 2017, the value of a Commonwealth penalty unit increased from $180 to $210. This means that the financial penalties for contravening the Biosecurity Act have increased from this date.

The increase to the Commonwealth penalty unit value is necessary to accommodate inflation since the value was last adjusted in 2015, to ensure that the real value of the penalty unit is maintained. The new penalty unit value will only apply to notices issued on or after 1 July 2017. This means that the changes will not impact on current proceedings or notices that were issued before this date.

How can I pay my infringement notice?

If you are issued with an infringement notice at the airport and have not been granted an extension of time to pay, it is an on-the-spot fine.

If you choose to pay the on-the-spot notice, you must do so prior to leaving the airport as the Infringement Notice Unit (INU) cannot accept payment once you have left the airport. Your notice will be considered to be unpaid and proceedings seeking a civil penalty order under Part 4 of the Regulatory Powers Act 2014 may be brought against you in relation to the alleged contravention.

You must pay at the Australian Border Force Duty Counter with either a credit card or Australian legal tender (cash). Payment of the penalty amount on the notice is not an admission of guilt or liability.

If you seek, and are granted an extension of time to pay, the biosecurity officer will provide you with a Notice of Extension form which provides further information on how and when to pay by.

When completing your form you must allow sufficient postage time for your letter to arrive to the department, as payments received outside of the specified payment period cannot be accepted by the department.

Can I request an extension of time to pay my infringement notice?

If you have been issued with an infringement notice you may request an extension of time in which to pay the notice as long as you ask the biosecurity officer at the time of issue. You cannot request an extension for an on-the-spot infringement notice once you have left the airport. The biosecurity officer can extend a payment date for up to 28 days depending on the individual circumstances.

If you have already received an extension at the airport and still require further time to pay your notice, you must apply for this within the current extension period, as late payments received outside of the specified payment period cannot be accepted by the department. You can submit a request for additional time to pay though the INU.

What happens if I don’t pay my infringement notice?

If you choose not to pay the penalty amount outlined on the infringement notice or don’t pay within the specified payment period (including any extension period given), then court proceedings seeking a civil penalty order under Part 4 of the Regulatory Powers Act 2014 may be brought against you in relation to the alleged contravention.

The below shows the maximum penalty that a court could impose if you are found to have contravened the Biosecurity Act. These amounts are current as of 1 July 2017.

s 126(2) 120 penalty units ($25,200)

s 128(2) 120 penalty units ($25,200)

s 532(1) 60 penalty units ($12,600)

s 533(1) 60 penalty units ($12,600)

Can I request a withdrawal of my infringement notice?

If you have been issued with an infringement notice you may write to the Director of Biosecurity seeking the withdrawal of the notice.

To request a withdrawal you:

  • must make the request in writing
  • should provide evidence or any information to assist the INU in deciding whether or not to withdraw the infringement notice.

If you are acting on behalf of someone who has received an infringement, an Authority to Act form must also be provided with your submission. The completed form allows the INU to review the matters you have raised on behalf of the recipient. The INU will notify the nominated representative of the infringement notice of its decision, in writing. This form can be found as a PDF at the bottom of this page.

The Director of BiosecurityINU may withdraw an infringement notice of theirits own volition or following a request for withdrawal from the recipient of the notice.​

List of the 49 infringements

A full list of the 49 infringements available to manage compliance in the Biosecurity Act 2015 is provided in the table below:

ItemSection numberSection text
1124(2)Direction to secure goods
2125(4)Inspecting goods and taking samples
3126(2)*Asking questions about goods
4127(3)Requiring documents relating to goods to be produced
5128(2)*Movement of goods
6129(2)Biosecurity control notice may be affixed to goods or given to person in charge of goods
7130(2)Unauthorised persons must not move etc. goods in relation to which direction has been given or notice has been affixed
8139(3)Biosecurity officer may affix notice to goods
9188(1)Receiving or possessing prohibited or suspended goods brought or imported into Australian territory
10196(4)Persons on incoming aircraft or vessel may be required to provide information to assess biosecurity risk
11198(2)Securing conveyance
12200(2)Asking questions about conveyance
13201(3)Requiring documents relating to conveyance to be produced
14202(2)Movement of conveyance
15203(2)Biosecurity control notice may be affixed to conveyance or given to person in charge of conveyance
16204(2)Unauthorised persons must not move etc. conveyance in relation to which direction has been given
17214(3)Biosecurity officer may affix notice to conveyance
18220(1)Information about biosecurity requirements must be given to persons on board incoming aircraft or vessels
19221(3)Quarantine signal
20301(4)Power to require owner of Australian vessel to provide ballast water records
21317(3)Direction to secure goods or conveyance
22318(4)Inspections and taking samples of goods or premises
23319(2)Asking questions about goods or premises
24320(3)Requiring documents relating to goods or premises to be produced
25321(2)Movement of goods or conveyance
26322(3)Biosecurity officer may affix notice to goods or conveyance
27323(1)Unauthorised persons must not move etc. goods or conveyance to which notice has been affixed
28348(3)Biosecurity officer may affix notice to goods or premises
29363(1)Unauthorised persons must not interfere with etc. biosecurity control order affixed to goods or premises
30373(1)Unauthorised persons must not interfere with etc. notices or markings identifying biosecurity response zone
31374(1)Unauthorised persons must not interfere with etc. notices or markings identifying goods or premises in a biosecurity response zone
32381(1)Unauthorised persons must not interfere with etc. notices or markings identifying permanent biosecurity monitoring zone
33382(1)Unauthorised persons must not interfere with etc. notices or markings identifying goods or premises in a permanent biosecurity monitoring zone
34383(1)Unauthorised persons must not interfere with etc. equipment etc. set up in permanent biosecurity monitoring zone
35391(1)Unauthorised persons must not interfere with etc. notices or markings identifying temporary biosecurity monitoring zone
36392(1)Unauthorised persons must not interfere with etc. notices or markings identifying goods or premises in temporary biosecurity monitoring zone
37393(1)Unauthorised persons must not interfere with etc. equipment etc. set up in temporary biosecurity monitoring zone
38401(1)Unauthorised persons must not interfere with etc. notices or markings identifying biosecurity activity zone
39402(1)Unauthorised persons must not interfere with etc. notices or markings identifying goods or premises in a biosecurity activity zone
40438(1)Giving false or misleading information to a biosecurity industry participant
41439(1)Giving false or misleading documents to a biosecurity industry participant
42456(3)Notice may be affixed to goods or a conveyance
43532(1)*Civil penalty provision for false or misleading information
44533(1)*Civil penalty provision for false or misleading documents
45556(4)Powers that may be exercised by biosecurity officer after boarding a conveyance
46600(6)Biosecurity officer may withhold goods that are subject to charge
47601(1)Moving or interfering with withheld goods
48607(1)Moving or interfering with detained conveyance
49631(3)Person complying with direction or request must not damage or destroy goods

* Four main infringement notices issued in a traveller environment

How can I contact the Infringement Notice Unit?

The best way to contact the INU is via email: InfringementUnit@agriculture.gov.au​​

Phone:

You can contact us by phone, from Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 4:30pm AEST, on 02 6272 4965

Postal address:

Infringement Notice Scheme
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
GPO Box 858, Canberra ACT 2601

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