Frequently asked questions

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What is an Approved Arrangement?

An approved arrangement is an agreement between the department and a livestock exporter that allows a more streamlined export certification process.

The arrangement is based on a manual developed by the exporter that describes the processes and practices an exporter will follow to ensure they meet Australian Government requirements for the certification of livestock for export, including:

  • The Australian standards for the export of livestock (ASEL)
  • Importing country requirements
  • Other legislative requirements.

For more details about approved arrangements, please see the ‘Obtaining an approved arrangement’ page.

What will change under Approved Arrangements?

Approved arrangements involve moving from a consignment by consignment assessment process to one where exporters’ systems for preparing consignments will be approved and subject to ongoing monitoring and verification through audits.

Exporters who invest in quality management systems and processes that enable them to reliably source and prepare livestock consignments that consistently meet all the regulatory requirements will benefit from a streamlined verification processes, which will help free-up their time and resources to focus on the most important parts of their business, including ensuring animal welfare.

Under approved arrangements, the department is better able to focus on exporters’ business systems, identify areas of risk and ensure exporters address any deficiencies before they escalate.

Who needs an Approved Arrangement?

To be able to export livestock exporters must have an export licence and approved arrangement in place from 1 January 2017. Exporters can apply for an exemption from having an approved arrangement only if they meet the criteria of a small and infrequent exporter.

The approved arrangement must cover the markets, species, classes (breeder, feeder or slaughter) and modes of transport (exported by air or sea) the exporter proposes to export livestock from Australia.

Are there any exemptions from operating an Approved Arrangement?

Yes, an exemption from operating an approved arrangement and a reduced licence fee option is available for exporters that meet the requirements of a “small and infrequent” exporter.
A small and infrequent livestock exporter is one who:

  • Sends four or less livestock consignments in a 12 month period and,
  • The total number of animals across all consignments does not exceed 400 in a 12 month period.

Livestock exporters that consider they meet the requirements of a small and infrequent exporter will need to apply to the department. For more information please see the ‘Small and infrequent exemption’ page.

Does an approved arrangement cover the Exporter Supply Chain and Assurance System (ESCAS)?

No, approved arrangements only apply to on-shore activities conducted within Australia and do not change existing ESCAS requirements in any way.

How do I apply for an Approved Arrangement?

Exporters need to prepare a draft arrangement using the guidelines and available resources and submit their approved arrangement and completed application form to the department for assessment and approval.

For more details about how to apply for an approved arrangement, please see the ‘Obtaining an approved arrangement’ page.

Preparing an Approved Arrangement

Livestock exporters must draft their arrangements to describe their business systems and detail the procedures that will ensure the preparation and certification of livestock exported from Australia meet:

  • the Australian Standards for the export of Livestock (ASEL)
  • Importing Country Requirements
  • Relevant Australian Government legislation and other requirements.

There is no generic approved arrangements template to fill in. That is because each business is different and each arrangement needs to document individual business practices such as how each business goes about preparing and checking consignments.

Further information on approved arrangements is available at: Approved Arrangements for the export of livestock

What is a Standard Export Plan (SEP)?

The SEP sets out the processes that an exporter will follow to prepare a consignment, and documents what will be done for each livestock species and market. The SEP replaces the requirement for an exporter to submit a Consignment Risk Management Plan (CRMP) for each consignment, and for the department to issue an approved export program (AEP) and approval letter.

The approved arrangement will need to include a SEP for each proposed export market and the livestock species to be exported. This is the way an exporter demonstrates to the department that they understand and will comply with the importing country requirements, ASEL and any other conditions or requirements applicable to the consignment. The SEP must document the procedures and refer to supporting documentation.

Further information on standard export plans, including a template are available at: Approved Arrangements for the export of livestock

What is a Consignment Specific Export Plan (CSEP)?

A Consignment Specific Export Plan (CSEP) details the specific parameters and preparation of a particular consignment for export once they known. For example, the number of sheep for export. The approved SEP is used to form the basis of the CSEP. A CSEP must be prepared for every consignment.

The CSEP lists any of the management plans that are being used for that consignment that are approved in the arrangement. The CSEP must also include additional documentation specific to the consignment, such as a heat stress risk assessment, travel plans and a load plan.

For example, an exporter has a SEP approved for slaughter sheep to Malaysia by sea. The upcoming consignment has some sheep with wool longer than 25 mm. The CSEP for this consignment must reference the long wool management plan and the requirements of it must be reflected in the heat stress risk assessment, travel plans and load plan. The next consignment will not have any sheep with long wool and the CSEP will not need to reference the long wool management plan.

The CSEP becomes a record of the consignment and is retained by the exporter. The department may request to sight a CSEP at any time. If an exporter is on the provisional performance level, the CSEP must be uploaded to TRACE (Tracking Animal Certification for Export) electronic system as part of the documents required for each consignment.

When the department conducts an audit of the exporter’s arrangement, the exporter may be required to provide evidence that a CSEP has been prepared for every consignment.

Further information about CSEPS are available at: Approved Arrangements for the export of livestock

Exporting under an Approved Arrangement including Performance Management

Approved arrangements allow the department to focus its efforts and resources on areas of highest risk, and recognise the efforts of compliant exporters.

The department has released Performance Management and Compliance Guidelines for approved arrangements. The document provides an outline of the performance management and compliance framework to be applied to exporters under Approved Arrangements.

Mechanisms used by the department to monitor performance will include audits, inspection of livestock and verification of documentation. A range of indicators will also be used by the department to assess an exporter’s performance, including livestock export incidents, issues identified by importing countries and consignment mortality rates.

The level of regulatory oversight of exporters will depend on an individual exporter’s performance over time and may increase based on poor performance, remain unchanged based on marginal performance or be reduced based on compliant performance.

Further information about performance management of exporters under an approved arrangement is available at: Approved Arrangements for the export of livestock

What are importing country requirements?

Each country has its own specific requirements relating to the health and preparation of animals arriving in their country.

In many cases, Australia has signed a government-to-government agreement that sets out importing country requirements for any livestock arriving in their country. In these cases the department gives guidance on importing country requirements in the online Manual of Importing Country Requirements (MICoR).

In other cases, importing country requirements are set out only in the import permit that the importing country issues for each consignment.

It is the exporter’s responsibility to obtain and independently verify import requirements with the relevant country authority and that they match these in the CSEP for the consignment. If an importing country requires an import permit, this must be provided to the department with the application for an export permit and health certificate.

What if a market I want to export to does not have agreed importing requirements?

Where there are no agreed import requirements for livestock exported from Australia, exporters must obtain a valid import permit from the relevant destination country authority. The exporter will also need to check to make sure it aligns with their standard export plan. If not, or if it is not clear, please contact the department.

How will an Approved Arrangement be assessed and approved?

The assessment process consists of three parts:

  • Initial completeness check: When an application is received, the department will undertake a completeness check. If the application appears to be complete it will be accepted by the department and assigned to an officer for review. If incomplete, the application will be rejected, sent back to the exporter and no fee charged.
  • Desktop review: An officer will review the application for compliance with the approved arrangement guidelines. At this stage the application will either be not approved, the exporter will be asked to correct minor errors or it will progress to audit.
  • Audit: The department will send an auditor to the exporter’s office to validate the governance, operations and quality assurance systems, process and procedures match those stipulated in the approved arrangement application. 

Can the Approved Arrangement be varied?

Yes, minor changes like who is in management and control, internal procedures etc can be made and included in the amendment register and should be signed off by an auditor.

Should an exporter want to add a new market, species, class of livestock, or a different mode of transport to their arrangement, they will need to submit a variation to their arrangement for assessment by the department and provide a draft standard export plan (SEP) for the new type of export proposed. The variation, including the SEP, will require approval by the department before the export can proceed.

The SEP should detail the process for the preparation of the consignment. This should include a list of the requirements, how they will be met – including the document(s) that can be used to evidence the requirement was met – and who performed it.

Exporting under an Approved including Performance Management

Approved arrangements allow the department to focus its efforts and resources on areas of highest risk, and recognise the efforts of compliant exporters.

The department has released Performance Management and Compliance Guidelinesfor approved arrangements. The document provides an outline of the performance management and compliance framework to be applied to exporters under Approved Arrangements.

Mechanisms used by the department to monitor performance will include audits, inspection of livestock and verification of documentation. A range of indicators will also be used by the department to assess an exporter’s performance, including livestock export incidents, issues identified by importing countries and consignment mortality rates.

The level of regulatory oversight of exporters will depend on an individual exporter’s performance over time and may increase based on poor performance, remain unchanged based on marginal performance or be reduced based on compliant performance.
Available material on the department’s website includes, Performance Management and Compliance Guidelines, Performance Management and Compliance Fact Sheet, Example Scenarios and Ratings

What are the provisional arrangements?

Provisional arrangements involve the highest level of regulatory oversight by the department to help exporters refine their systems and demonstrate they are capable of effectively operating under the approved arrangement process.

Provisional arrangements apply to a new exporter with an approved arrangement who has not yet completed a satisfactory audit cycle, or an exporter whose approved arrangement was suspended or revoked and has now resumed exporting following a compliant audit.

A provisional exporter will progress through the “performance management framework” when they are able to demonstrate that their approved arrangement is working effectively and that their exports have and will continue to comply with ASEL, importing country and legislative requirements.

Does a Notice of Intention to Export (NoI) still need to be submitted?

Yes, exporters will still need to submit a Notice of Intention to Export (NoI) on the department’s Tracking Animal Certification for Export (TRACE) electronic system a minimum of 10 business days before livestock enters isolation prior to export.  It is only a NoI if it meets all requirements, otherwise it will be rejected.

Once the department has acknowledged the NoI, it will be used by regional offices as a planning tool to schedule resources for inspections.

Varying an NoI

If there is a change in any circumstances of an export consignment, the exporter must vary the particular details of the consignment through an NoI variation. For example:

  • When an exporter wants to add a new market or change markets
  • Species, class or quantity of livestock
  • Change the timing of an export.

The changes must be reflected on TRACE.

What are core documents under Approved Arrangements?

Under approved arrangements, core documents are export documents that are required to enable the regional veterinary officer (RVO) to certify importing country requirements and issue an export permit. The department has categorised core documents for each market based on complexity (categories A, B and C). Further information on livestock export market categories and the core documents required is available on the department’s website under Performance Management Compliance Guidelines

As the core documents list and MICoR requirements are subject to change, please check them for each consignment.

What happens when livestock export market requirements change?

The department will be notified about any change in the market that will affect Australian exporters. Depending on the magnitude of the change the department may or may not contact exporters directly. MICoR will be updated to reflect the variation. Exporters must update their approved arrangement to reflect all changes, no matter the significance. If the change will affect exporters with consignments already in transit to the importing country then the department will work directly with the exporter and importing country to resolve any issues.

It is the exporter’s responsibility to check MICoR and any import permit conditions prior to each consignment.

Exporting to a new market, new species or a new mode of transport

If an exporter intends to export to a new market, export a new species or use a new mode of transport than what is already included in the approved arrangements, a variation request must be made and a new Standard Export Plan (SEP) will need to be submitted to the department for approval prior to applying for an export permit and health certificate.

For more details about how to vary an approved arrangement, please see the Licence renewal or variation page.

Heavy/light/longhorn management plans

Where appropriate, exports of heavy or light cattle with horns longer than 12cm in length, and longhorn livestock, require a management plan approved as part of an exporter’s approved arrangement and additional conditions to be included as part of the SEP.

The SEP must include standard appendices which address special and/or additional conditions specific to the livestock consignment. These may include, but are not limited to:

  • Management plan for light cattle/buffalo (individual weight of less than 200 kilograms)
  • Management plan for heavy cattle (individual weight in excess of 650 kilograms)
  • Extended voyage management plan (voyage to a market that takes more than 30 days)
  • Longhorn livestock approval.

The Australian Standards for the Export of Livestockcontain further information on the health and welfare requirements for the export of livestock. 

What records/documents do exporters need to keep?

Exporters need to keep and be able to provide documents at any time on request for department audit purposes which demonstrate compliance with the approved arrangement.

An exporter’s approved arrangement documents must accurately describe how the exporter will meet the regulatory requirements, standards and outcomes relating to exporting live animals.

It is suggested for every consignment that the CSEP is used to ensure all requirements are met and kept with consignment documents, and evidence is attached (such as AAV declarations, laboratory test results etc.) so that requirements are met. This ensures all documents are kept together in a consignment file (either electronically or physically) for ease during department audits.

Monitoring performance and compliance under an Approved Arrangement

Broadly speaking, a good record of compliance means less intervention. Performance is monitored by the department through a range of processes including inspection of livestock, verification of documentation, and auditing. In addition to these measures, there are a range of indicators that may affect an exporter’s performance rating, including importing country rejections, reportable mortality incidents, mortality rates, and on-going low-level non-compliance.

Details of the approach is available on the department’s website under Performance Management Compliance Guidelines

Arranging inspections of animals

All consignments need to be inspected. Exporters should contact the relevant departmental regional office to book in animal inspections as soon as practicable, but no later than three days before export. Most consignments will be inspected at registered or approved premises unless it is a small air consignment. The time and place of animal inspection is to be agreed between the exporter and the RVO. An application for health certificate and export permit must be uploaded to TRACE prior to the inspection.

All transport and loading needs to be completed in compliance with the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock and any relevant in country requirements.

What happens if a consignment doesn’t meet requirements?

It depends on the nature of the non-compliance. For low-level or accidental oversights which affect a small number animals, the exporter will have an opportunity to correct the error and continue with the export. However, where it indicates a disregard for systems and processes, or fraudulent behaviour, the export will be refused. The approved arrangement may also be suspended or cancelled. Full details are contained in the Performance Management and Compliance Guidelines.

How often is an exporter's Approved Arrangement audited?

The frequency of audit will depend on an exporter’s history of compliance (either every two, three or six months). For exporters that export livestock infrequently (i.e. less than five times per year), audit schedules will be determined on a case-by-case basis but will occur at least annually.

In addition to scheduled performance audits, the department may also choose to conduct ad-hoc or unannounced audits in response to identified issues, such as importing country rejections, reportable mortalities, continued poor performance or other incidents as identified.

Who organises audits?

The department may advise of an audit generally five business days in advance. If an exporter cannot attend the date required, then the exporter must advise the department and organise a new date. If the exporter is unable to organise another date within 20 days of the original date, they face suspension by the department. Charges will apply if the department attends and the exporter is not prepared for the audit.

How much does it cost to apply for an Approved Arrangement?

The cost for an application is $600 and the cost when requesting a variation to an approved arrangement is $300. An audit fee of $43 per quarter hour will also be charged for the initial audit, please note time preparing for the audit and writing the audit report is also charged.

Audits of Approved Arrangements

Exporters are audited against the performance criteria indicators included in their approved arrangement. Audits occur every two-six months depending on the exporter’s performance levels. The audit will be a comprehensive examination of the exporter’s procedures and practices.

Outcomes of each audit and any information received about non-compliance may result in an adjustment to audit frequency. Exporters receiving compliant audits and no non-compliances during consignments will be rewarded with less frequent auditing. If non-compliances are identified in a number of consignments or through audit, additional follow-up audits will be undertaken. The exporter will be given notice of any proposed decision to change audit frequency and be given the opportunity to provide any additional information. In some cases an approved arrangement may be cancelled or suspended.

For exporters that export livestock infrequently, their audit schedules will be determined on a case by case basis.

What happens if there are problems found at an Approved Arrangement audit?

During the audit, the auditor will assess the effectiveness of each of the elements of the approved arrangement by rating them as either compliant, non-compliant, or critically non –compliant.

Where an observation, or problem, is recorded during an audit, the exporter should make a plan for resolving the problem, with implementation to be reviewed and assessed at the next scheduled audit. If the observation is not resolved within the agreed timeframe, this may result in a Corrective Action Request (CAR) being issued.

Where a CAR is recorded, the auditor will discuss the identified issue with the exporter and a timeframe to resolve the CAR will be agreed to by both parties. The agreed timeframe will depend on the nature of the non-compliance, with each CAR considered on a case-by-case basis. If an exporter fails to take the required action within the required time, this will result in a critical non-compliance being issued.

In resolving a CAR, the exporter must develop a plan to address it and provide evidence that appropriate actions have been undertaken. All corrective actions must be reviewed and signed-off by a departmental auditor. Depending on the type, seriousness and number of CARs issued at an audit, this may be achieved by:

  • providing written advice to the department outlining how the CAR has been resolved, with a review of corrective actions completed at the next scheduled audit; and/or
  • scheduling a follow-up audit within one-two months to verify that the CAR has been resolved adequately.
If four or more CARs are issued and/or a critical non-compliance is recorded during an audit, the approved arrangement will be suspended and the exporter will be ineligible to export until adequate controls have been put in place. Other regulatory action may also be taken by the department as appropriate.

Can the Approved Arrangement be suspended?

Yes, an approved arrangement may be suspended in whole or in part because of a failure to meet requirements and/or audit failure. Before the exporter can resume exporting, an internal review of the approved arrangement must be undertaken by the exporter and an audit will be conducted by the department to verify compliance. Once achieved, the exporter will be rated as provisional and will require a compliant performance cycle to progress through the performance framework.

What happens if an Approved Arrangement is cancelled?

Prior to exporting again, the exporter will be required to develop a new approved arrangement which demonstrates how the exporter has addressed the issues that led to its cancellation. An audit will be conducted by the department to verify compliance. Once achieved, the exporter will be rated as provisional and will require a compliant performance cycle to progress through the performance framework. Approval to export may also be subject to conditions.

Further information, guidance and reference documents

Further information is available on the department’s website at Approved Arrangement Guidelines for the Export of Livestock
Or contact the department by phone on 02 6272 4581 or by email on Live Stock Exports

Key policy and guidance documents

  • The Approved Arrangement Guidelines for the Export of Livestock. Version 1.10
  • The Approved Arrangement Performance Management Policy
  • Export plan guidance material, including explanation template and flowchart

Reference documents

  • Export Control Act 1982
  • Export Control (Animals) Order 2004
  • Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997
  • Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry (Export Licensing) Regulations 1998
  • Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Regulations 1998
  • Australian standards for the export of livestock (version 2.3)
  • Export Advisory Notices (EANs)

Acronyms and definitions

AAV

Australian Government Accredited Veterinarian: a veterinarian who is accredited by the Australian Government under Part IIA of the Export Control Act 1982 to conduct duties in relation to the export of livestock, in accordance with relevant Australian and importing country requirements.

Amendment (to the approved arrangement)

Any change to the approved arrangement that does not need to be submitted to the department for approval.

Approved Arrangement

An arrangement entered into by an individual, business or organisation that prescribes the procedures that need to be undertaken to meet relevant Australian Government legislation and departmental compliance requirements.

AMLI Act

The Australian Meat and Live-stock Act 1997 outlines exporting licencing and enforcement regime for livestock exports.

ASEL

Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock: the standards represent the basic animal health and welfare requirements for the conduct of livestock exports, which the Australian Government require exporters to meet.

CAR

Corrective action request: an official request for corrective action from an identified non-compliance resulting from an audit undertaken by the department.

Class

For this document, class refers to the end purpose of the livestock, where it may be breeder, feeder or slaughter.

CSEP

Consignment Specific Export Plan: an export plan specific to the individual characteristics of a consignment. This is developed from the Standard Export Plan and includes all relevant documents to the consignment.

Competent

A person is competent if they have the requisite skills, knowledge and/or experience to perform the task or function satisfactorily.

Corrective action

Action taken to address non-compliance or non-conformance (immediate) and action taken to ensure the risk of repeated non-compliance is prevented or minimised (long term or preventive).

The department

The Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

EAN

Export advisory notice: for advice, or guidance, or instructions to exporters of livestock and livestock reproductive material, on how to comply with importing country requirements, or Australian Government legislation, or department administrative requirements.

Element

The approved arrangement guidelines contain 11 elements. Each element needs to be addressed in the exporter’s approved arrangement.

Exporter

A holder of a livestock export licence under the AMLI Act.

Importing country requirements

Requirement set by a government body in an importing country that must be met in order for a product to be imported into that country.

Livestock export licence

Licence to export livestock granted by the Secretary or their delegate following the satisfaction of certain criteria in accordance with the Australian Meat and Live-Stock Industry Act 1997 (AMLI Act).

Livestock

Cattle, sheep, goats, deer, buffalo and camelids (camels, llamas, alpacas and vicunas), including the young of an animal of those kinds.

LNCLNC is the prefix for all livestock export consignments. It has no other meaning.

MICoR

Manual of Importing Country Requirements. 

NOI

Notice of intention: The notice of intention to export livestock, received by the department from an exporter.

Non-compliance

A failure to act in accordance with the approved arrangement that could result in a corrective action request issued by the department.

Non-conformance

Where the requirements of the exporter’s business, including procedures, are not fulfilled, which may be identified through internal monitoring, review or internal audit.

Non-conformance report

A non-conformance report documents the details of a non-conformance identified during monitoring, reviews or internal audits. The objective of the report is to clearly describe the problem so corrective action can be initiated by person(s) in management and control.

Person(s) in management and control

The person(s) nominated as being in a position of management and control in the exporter’s licence to export in accordance with section 8 of the AMLI Act.

Procedure

A sequence of activities or course of action that will be followed to demonstrate the exporter will meet the performance requirements set out in each element.

SEP

Standard export plan: a detailed plan showing how exporters will meet all relevant Australian Government legislation, standards and importing country requirements (outside of those covered in the approved arrangement) for the market, species, class and mode of transport for which it intends to export. 

TRACE

Tracking Animal Certification for Export: the IT system which manages the booking processes for consignments of livestock exported from Australia, as well as applications for livestock export licences, registered premises and AAVs.

Variation (to the approved arrangement)

Any significant variation to the approved arrangement that requires approval through the department, as described in section 1A.09 and 1A.10 of the Animals Order.

Verification

Confirmation, including documentation as evidence, that procedures have been conducted accurately and in accordance with the requirements of the approved arrangement.

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