Fresh produce – commercial imports

​​​The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is transitioning the management of horticultural imports to a more modern, risk-based biosecurity system that promotes and facilitates the movement of highly compliant goods into Australia.  Key drivers of the transition for fresh produce imports are:

  • Introduction of the new Biosecurity Act 2015
  • The new Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON) that houses the import conditions database for more than 20,000 plants, animals, minerals and biological products
  • A review of import conditions for fresh produce, which is supported by the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper to review all Australia’s import conditions by June 2019.
  • Optimising biosecurity compliance of imported goods with Australia’s import conditions. This includes trialling the Compliance-based Inspection Scheme (CBIS) on specific fresh produce.

The department has established an Imported Fresh Produce Working Group​ that will provide expert advice to the department and be a forum to share information across governments and industry.

More information is available in the factsheet Modernising the importation of fresh produce.

Importation of fresh produce for commercial purposes

Fresh produce is unprocessed or partially processed fresh fruit and vegetables. Partial processing may include slicing or removing peel.

Imported fresh produce can introduce exotic plant pests and diseases that could be harmful to Australia’s environment, agriculture and economy. To safeguard Australia, the department sets conditions for the import of all fresh produce to Australia. Note, the importation of fresh produce for personal use is not permitted.

To find out whether a fresh commodity from a specific country is permitted and what import conditions apply, search the Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON) for the commodity or country pathway.

If import conditions are not listed on BICON for the pathway, fresh produce cannot be imported until:

  • a formal market access request is made by the appropriate government authority or National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) of the exporting country (this process can take several years).
  • an import risk analysis has been completed by the department
  • import conditions have been developed and published on BICON

Import conditions

The Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON) details the conditions for the importation of fresh produce, including:

  • whether an import permit is required
  • mandatory phytosanitary measures such as fumigation and irradiation
  • phytosanitary declarations
  • packaging and labelling requirements

Not all fresh produce will need an import permit under the Biosecurity Act 2015. BICON will identify if a permit is required.

The department assesses documentation and inspects the fresh produce on arrival in Australia to verify compliance with the import conditions. Failure to meet the conditions may result in the fresh produce not being permitted entry into Australia.

Importation costs

Importers are responsible for meeting all import conditions and covering all associated costs for services provided by the department and other parties. This includes the costs of import permits, documentation assessments, inspections, treatments, and diagnostic tests.  
Information on importation costs associated with import documentation and processes:

  • Import permit, inspection and Post Entry Quarantine at the commonwealth government facility: check the department’s charging guidelines.
  • Phytosanitary certification: contact your supplier or the NPPO of the country of export.
  • Fumigation: contact your fumigation provider

Costs associated with diagnostic testing may vary according to the type of test.

Meeting Australia’s food laws

Imported food for human consumption must comply with the requirements of the Imported Food Control Act 1992, as well as Australian state and territory food laws. Among other things, these laws require all food, including imported food, to meet the standards set out in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code).

The Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources administers the Imported Food Control Act 1992. This legislation provides for the inspection and control of imported food using a risk-based border inspection program, the Imported Food Inspection Scheme. More information on this inspection scheme, including the testing of imported food, is available from the department’s website.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is responsible for developing and maintaining the Code, including Standard 1.4.2 - Agvet chemicals. This standard is available on the Federal Register of Legislation or through the FSANZ website.