Jurisdiction and biosecurity control

​​​The jurisdiction of the Biosecurity Act 2015 is the Australian territory which includes:

  • Australia
  • Christmas Island
  • the Cocos (Keeling) Islands
  • any external Territory
  • the airspace and the coastal sea of t​hese areas which generally extends to 12 Nautical Miles (NM).

Biosecurity control

Under the Quarantine Act 1908, quarantine officers order goods into quarantine to manage biosecurity risks. Under the Biose​curity Act, biosecurity officers will assess and manage biosecurity risk associated with goods and conveyances without needing to make an order. This is because goods and conveyances from overseas will automatically become subject to biosecurity control once they enter Australian territory, which is generally when they pass through the 12NM limit​.

Graphic representation of the jurisdiction of the Act

Graphic depicting the jurisdiction of the Biosecurity Act, including an indication of where a First Point of Entry may be located and a Biosecurity Control Area.

Subject to biosecurity control

Under the Biosecurity Act, goods and conveyances from overseas remain subject to biosecurity control until they are released.

Goods will be released from biosecurity control in a number of ways including:

  • verbally
  • in writing
  • electronically
  • by leaving the First Point of Entry (for travellers)
  • when mail items leave the international mail centre
  • when a good is destroyed
  • by leaving Australian territory
  • by a written notice of release from a biosecurity industry participant.

There are exceptions to automatic release in the traveller and international mail pathways for conditionally non-prohibited goods that are used in research, for propagation purposes, used in a laboratory or that are required to undergo post-entry quarantine. Check BICON for import conditions.

Conveyances will be released from biosecurity control in the following ways:

  • by notice given by a biosecurity officer or biosecurity industry participant
  • when a conveyance is destroyed
  • by leaving Australian territory.

Exposed goods, conveyances and premises

Goods and conveyances also become subject to biosecurity control if they have been exposed to goods that are under biosecurity control, and a biosecurity order is put in place. 

Under the Biosecurity Act a person, good, conveyance or premises is taken to have been exposed to another person, good, conveyance or premises if it has been, or is likely to have been:

  1. in physical contact with
  2. in close proximity to
  3. exposed to contamination, infestation or infection from the other person, good, conveyance or premises.

Goods become ‘exposed goods’ if a biosecurity officer suspects on reasonable grounds that they have been exposed to other goods or conveyances that are subject to biosecurity control. Exposed goods are subject to biosecurity risk assessment in the same manner as if the goods had been imported and were subject to biosecurity control.

Exposed goods and the interaction with conveyances

Graphic depicting an exposed good on board a vessel that is deemed to be exposed due to the physical contact with the good. 

If goods subject to biosecurity control are later found to be contaminated, the conveyance that originally carried the good may be found to be exposed, even if the vessel has been released from biosecurity control and is travelling between Australian ports.

Exposure of domestic goods at a site covered by an approved arrangement

Domestic goods in close proximity to goods subject to biosecurity control at a site covered by an approved arrangement can become exposed. 

Domestic goods in close proximity to goods subject to biosecurity control at a site covered by an approved arrangement can become exposed.

Domestic conveyances interacting with goods subject to biosecurity control

Graphic depicting the interaction of infested imported cargo containers that are subject to biosecurity control and the exposure of a domestic conveyance through physical contact with the exposed good. 

Domestic conveyances, such as trucks and loaders, operating at Australian ports and wharfs can also become exposed due to their interaction with goods that are subject to biosecurity control or that are found to have infestation even when they have been released from biosecurity control.

It is important that importers consider the management and potential separation of imported and domestic goods and conveyances to limit the potential for these to become exposed and reduce the need for regulatory intervention by the department.

Specific information on the application of exposed goods and conveyances is available to help explain the operation of the Biosecurity Act to importers and domestic operators interacting with installations.

Exemptions from biosecurity control

The jurisdiction of the Biosecurity Act is 12NM. This means that some goods not previously regulated under the Quarantine Act 1908 are subject to biosecurity control under the Biosecurity Act and may be subject to import conditions.

Industries that could be affected by this change include researchers collecting samples from the ocean or the ocean floor past 12NM, and fishers catching fish past 12NM.

The department intends to exempt all goods sourced from the ocean or ocean floor between 12 and 200NM (i.e. within Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone) from import conditions, including import permits that would otherwise apply. View the biosecurity act explained for importers​​​ for more information.