Government issued export permits and health certificates for dairy, eggs and fish products

​​​​The Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources​ has created this set of guidelines to assist those wishing to prepare dairy, egg and fish products in Australia for export, as well as those wishing to export the final products.

This guideline sets out how to obtain government issued export permits and health certificates.

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This guide provides instructions for Australian businesses wanting to export dairy, egg and fish products intended for human consumption. By following these steps exporters will meet export requirements and get their products to their intended overseas market.

Step-by-step guide for exporting dairy, egg and fish products

These steps are set out in more detail in this guide.

Step 1: Identify whether your product requires export documentation
Step 2: Identify whether your product is eligible for export
Step 3: Obtain export certification
Step 4: Export your product

Step 1: Identify whether your product requires export documentation

Australian food export legislation requires that all ‘prescribed’ goods have a valid export permit before being exported. Prescribed goods include all dairy, egg and fish products destined for human consumption, although there are some exceptions for small consignments and some products exported to New Zealand.

In some instances, importing countries may require ce​rtification for dairy, egg and fish products that fall outside of the department’s definitions. In these cases, the Dairy, Egg and Fish Export Programme can provide additional guidance.

Definition of milk

The milk orders define milk products as:

  • milk (other than colostrum) from a bovine animal (meaning cows, buffalos, etc.)
  • milk products made from milk (other than colostrum) from a bovine animal:
    1. flavoured milk and modified milk
    2. cream and thickened cream
    3. butter, butter concentrate, buttermilk, concentrated buttermilk, dairy blend, ghee (clarified butter) and anhydrous milk fat (butter oil)
    4. casein, caseinate and cheese
    5. whey, whey cream and concentrated whey cream
    6. ultured milk and yoghurt
    7. butter milk powder, lactose powder, milk sugar, powdered milk, skim milk powder, whey powder, milk protein powder, condensed milk, milk minerals and other milk concentrates
    8. dips containing yoghurt, cream cheese or other dairy base
    9. any other milk-like product that has milk as a major component.

Definition of egg

The egg orders define egg products as:

  • eggs from the avian species Gallus gallus
  • egg products that must be made from eggs from the avian species Gallus gallus, and be the contents of an egg removed from its shell, and in liquid, frozen or dried form.

Definition of fish

The fish orders define fish as: aquatic vertebrates and aquatic invertebrates but excludes mammals and birds and define fish products as products containing fish.

Products that contain fish are considered to be ‘prescribed’ if:

  • fish comprises the largest proportion of the product by weight or volume, or
  • the proportion of fish by weight or volume means that if it were removed the product would no longer have the stated or implied characteristics.

Small consignments

Dairy, egg and fish products for human consumption that are exported in small consignments do not require government export documentation.

A small consignment of dairy, egg or fish products means:

  • less than 10 kilograms when in solid form
  • less than 10 litres when in liquid form
  • for fish, when in dried form, less than 2 kilograms (except for dried abalone).

If the product for export is less than the limits, including cans and packaging, there are no requirements for government involvement or export documentation. All products that meet the small consignment criteria will be allowed to exit Australia, but are not guaranteed of import clearance at the destination country. Taking this product out of Australia is done at the individual’s own risk as it may be rejected at the point of entrance at the destination country.

If the destination country requires the product to have government issued export documentation to be allowed to enter, contact the Dairy, Egg and Fish Export Programme for additional information.

Importing country requirements

The department has created a Manual of Importing C​ountry Requirements (MICoR), which sets out known requirements that exporters and the department must meet for products and commodities to be accepted for import into specific overseas countries.

Other countries’ requirements can change without notice, so exporters should confirm any specific requirements with their customer or importer.

Step 2: Identify whether your product is eligible for export

Was the dairy, egg or fish product manufactured in Australia?

In general, dairy, egg and fish products that are imported into Australia are not eligible to be issued with government export documentation, unless they have undergone some reprocessing in Australia.

In instances where imported product has been reprocessed in Australia, general conditions must be met in order for the department to issue export documentation:

  • while in Australia, the product must be processed and stored at export registered establishments that have appropriate approval for the export activities undertaken and specific commodity. The department may request documented evidence of this before issuing export certification
  • product packaging and trade description must meet requirements of food export legislation, including a statement that identifies the re-packer (for product that has been repackaged in Australia but has not been altered by further processing in Australia)
  • the department may require an inspection of the product before issuing export certification.

The department cannot issue Australian export documentation when:

  • the imported product is not reprocessed in Australia and is held in bond at all times before export (transhipped)
  • the product is imported into Australia and then exported in the same covering and under the same trade description in which it was imported.

Was the product prepared in an export registered establishment, and remained within the ‘export chain’?

To be eligible for export, dairy, egg and fish products must be ‘prepared’ at establishments registered with the department. Registered establishments have an approved food safety management system in place, called an Approved Arrangement, which meets the requirements of export legislation. ‘Preparation’ includes processing, storage, handling and loading activities.

For dairy, egg and fish products to remain export eligible they must stay within the export chain until they are exported.

For example, if the product is transported from one establishment to another, each establishment must be export registered with the department for the appropriate activity and commodity type being handled.

Step 3 – Obtain export documentation

Do you have a declaration from the manufacturer that verifies export eligibility and importing country eligibility?

Registered establishments must provide certain information to receiving establishments in the form of a Transfer Certificate when despatching export eligible product. A Transfer Certificate must be completed for each consignment moving between export registered establishments for the product to remain export eligible. In addition, registered establishments that manufacture goods (rather than just store them) must also provide a Manufacturer’s Declaration of Compliance upon despatch, which may be included on the Transfer Certificate or on a separate cross-referenced document.

The Manufacturer’s Declaration of Compliance is a statement confirming that, to the point of despatch from the export registered premises that manufactured the goods, the registered establishment has complied with:

  • the conditions and restrictions specified in the appropriate Export Control Orders
  • any specific importing country requirements.

To apply for export documentation from the department, an exporter must declare that they have the Manufacturer’s Declaration of Compliance.

Have you applied for and received an export permit (and export health certification if required) prior to shipment?

The department issues export documentation for each shipment of eligible products for two reasons:

  • the issue of an export permit facilitates the export of the goods from Australia
  • the issue of an export health certificate (where required by an import authority) facilitates the entry of the goods into the destination country.

The department’s Export Documentation system (EXDOC) must be used to generate export permits and export health certificates for dairy and fish products. Manual documentation, as well as the EXDOC system, can be used to obtain export permits and export health certificates for egg products. Information on how to access EXDOC is on the department’s website.

An exporter may only receive an export permit and an export health certificate (where required) via the EXDOC system after a Request for Permit (RFP) has been raised electronically. The exporter needs to complete a Declaration of Compliance and ensure that all required information has been included in the RFP before the RFP is verified and export documentation may be issued.

RFPs and export health certificates are charged for at a standard rate. Information on fish and egg fees and charges, as well as dairy fees and charges, is available on the department’s website.

Step 4: Export your goods

Once steps 1 to 3 have been completed successfully, the applicable dairy, egg or fish products are eligible for export.

Useful links

Other guidelines for Australian export registered establishments and exporters


Dairy, Egg and Fish Programme
Residues and Food Branch
Exports Division
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
Phone: 02 6272 3933
GPO Box 858, Canberra ACT 2601

Email: Dairy, Eggs and Fish


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