Step-by-step guide to exporting

​​​​The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources regulates the activities of exporters and fish establishments to make sure you meet requirements set by legislation and by the importing country.

We can help you to:

  • understand the role of legislation in exporting goods
  • register as an exporter or export establishment
  • meet importing country requirements.

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Step 1: Check export legislation relating to your goods

The process for exporting fish products from Australia varies depending on how your product is defined under the Export Control Act 1982 and associated legislation.

If you want to export fish products, you will need to check this export legislation first.

The Act separates fish products into two groups:

  • prescribed goods
  • non-prescribed goods.

Prescribed goods

Prescribed fish goods include aquatic vertebrates and aquatic invertebrates (excluding mammals and birds) intended for human consumption, where the major ingredient is fish (aquaculture and wild caught).

Examples of prescribed fish products include:

  • abalone
  • crocodile
  • crustaceans (such as prawns, rock lobster, yabbies, crabs)
  • finfish (such as eel, tuna)
  • shellfish (such as oysters, scallops, mussels, pipis, clams, cockles)
  • products where fish is not the major component but if removed as an ingredient, the product would no longer have the stated or implied characteristics (such as sand-crab lasagne, smoked salmon dip, fish sauce).

If you are planning to export prescribed goods from Australia, you will need to:

  • register with us as an exporter
  • only use establishments that are registered for the products being exported.

Use the rest of this step by step guide to help you through the exporting process.

Non-prescribed goods

Non-prescribed fish goods may include:

  • shells
  • seaweeds
  • products where fish is an ingredient but not the major part (weight or volume) of the product e.g. bakery products containing fish oils, fish oil capsules; fish and fish products for animal food
  • products where fish is an ingredient but is not described or represented as being a fish product.

If you are exporting non-prescribed goods, you do not need to register with us, but will still need to meet any specific importing country requirements. We advise that you confirm with your importer any particular documentation or certification requirements for entry into the destination country.

Find out more about exporting non-prescribed goods from Australia.

Step 2: Check importing country requirements

You will need to check any requirements set by the importing country before you export fish products from Australia.

All applicable importing country requirements must be met before you can export fish goods from Australia.

Some countries set additional documentation and registration conditions for goods imported to their country.

Check our Manual of Importing Country Requirements (MICoR) for any conditions relating to your goods.

Step 3: Register with the department

Before exporting prescribed fish products, you must be registered with us. Registration requirements vary and depend on your specific role in the exporting process.

You can:


If you are the person or company responsible for exporting prescribed fish products, you will need to be registered with us as an exporter.

Exporters register with us through our Export Documentation System (EXDOC). This will allow you to link your exporter name and details to all export documentation you request through the system.

Register in EXDOC as an:

  • exporter–your name and address will be included as the exporter/owner on any documents generated for you by a third party agent
  • EDI user–to generate requests for export permits, health certificates and related documents
  • exporter and EDI user–your name and address will be registered in the EXDOC system as an exporter and you will be able to request export permits, health certificates and related documents.

Find out more about registering as an exporter in EXDOC.

Export establishments

Register your establishment with us if you are involved in handling prescribed fish products for export as a:

  • freight forwarder
  • manufacturer
  • processor
  • producer
  • storage facility
  • vessels where product is packed on board for export.

Exporters who are purchasing product from export registered fish establishments for export do not need to register as an establishment.

It is the exporter’s responsibility to make sure that the product to be exported is sourced from a registered establishment.

Registering as a fish export establishment involves:

  • submitting an application to register an export establishment and the documented approved arrangement you will operate under
  • audit of your application and documentation including:
    • a fit and proper person check of all staff listed in your application
    • a check for any outstanding debt to the Commonwealth that may be owed by the establishment that is to be registered (to be paid by the applicant)
    • desk audit of your approved arrangement
    • onsite audit of your establishment and approved arrangement to confirm details and effective implementation
  • payment of all fees and charges
  • approval of your application, if you have met all requirements.

Your establishment must be approved for domestic purposes prior to being approved for export purposes.

If you want to export your own product (rather than sell to an exporter or another export registered establishment) you will also need to regi​ster with the department as an exporter in our Export Documentation System (EXDOC)​ to gain export documentation.

Find out more about applying to operate as a fish export registered establishment.

Step 4: Document your product’s export eligibility

Fish goods that are intended for export from Australia must:

  • comply with all legislative and importing country requirements
  • be prepared at an export registered establishment
  • remain in export registered establishments at each stage of the export supply chain.

Manufacturers are responsible for providing written evidence that these requirements have been met.

Some countries may require supporting documentation be presented with the export permit application.

Declaration of Compliance

Manufacturers of fish products intended for export are responsible for making a Declaration of Compliance​ for those goods.

The declaration confirms the eligibility of the goods for export, specifically that the product:

Exporters will need to confirm that they have been issued with a Declaration of Compliance when making a Request for Permit in EXDOC.

All shipments of exported goods must have a Declaration of Compliance that covers all fish products in the shipment.

Transfer declaration

A transfer declaration is required each time a product is moved from one export registered establishment to another. This requirement does not apply when product is moved from a registered establishment directly to a wharf or airport and an export permit has been issued.

For example, when goods are moved from a processing establishment to a storage establishment.

The declaration must state that the product being transported has been stored in accordance with:

The establishment dispatching the goods is responsible for making a transfer declaration.

Step 5: Request export permits and certificates

When your fish products have met all requirements and are ready for export, you will need to make a Request for Permit (RFP) using our Export Documentation System​ (EXDOC).

This can be completed by:

  • exporters who are registered as an EDI user in EXDOC
  • agents on the exporters behalf, if the exporter’s details are registered in EXDOC
  • approved export permit issuers​.

Making a Request for Permit requires confirmation that you have met all eligibility requirements, including confirmation that you have:

  • a Declaration of Compliance
  • any necessary supporting documents required by the importing country
  • transfer declarations if required.

After an RFP is approved, you will be issued with:

  • an export permit, required for all shipments leaving Australia
  • a health certificate, if required.

Fees and charges are payable for issue of export permits and health certificates.

When making a Request for Permit, you will also need to include details of fish product codes in EXDOC.

Product codes are used to link your permit request with export declaration requirements you will need to meet for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Step 6: Export your goods

If you have completed steps 1-5 and made sure your goods meet all requirements, you are now ready to export.