Electronic Certification (eCert)

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What is eCert for imports?

eCert for Imports is an electronic system that enables the department to receive overseas government generated certificates for food and agricultural commodities being exported to Australia. Certificates generated by exporting government agencies provide assurance to the department that exported commodities comply with food safety, animal and plant health requirements.

The eCert imports system will receive Extensible Mark-up Language (XML) certificates in place of the current paper certificates issued by exporting government agencies. The electronic certificates will provide the same information that is currently provided on paper certificates. The electronic certificates will be downloaded from exporting country electronic systems and integrated into the department’s Agriculture import management system (AIMS) to facilitate import clearance.

The department works closely with other governments, agencies, industry and the community to minimise the risk of exotic pests and diseases entering and establishing in Australia and harming the natural environment, our food security and economy.

In order to meet future global challenges such as increased volume and complexity of trade, the department is implementing reforms to strengthen Australia’s biosecurity system. The development of electronic, government-to-government certification for imports to Australia is an important part of these reforms.

What is driving paperless trade?

Increased international interest in cross border security has been driven by the threat increased volume and complexity of trade. The World Customs Organisation (WCO) has recognised the benefit of prior notice of cargo arrivals in order for border agencies to apply risk assessment protocols to ensure public safety.

Electronic certification systems are also being driven by the risk and presentation of fraudulent documentation, eCert will assist in addressing this risk which can also have significant impacts on industry.

What are the benefits?

  • Certificates will be transferred securely between governments reducing the opportunity for fraudulent activity
  • Aligns with best practice international standards i.e. paperless trade
  • Provides a blueprint for future e-certification developments
  • Provides prior notice of imports – which could be used for pre-clearance
  • Helps eliminate ‘lost’ documents
  • Interface for industry clients is seamless
  • Improved efficiency and integrity for staff assessing certification

eCert availability

The department has been working with the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries since November 2012 to receive electronic Phytosanitary certificates to Australia.

Please note: there is no change to the procedures for foreign certificates under the Imported Food Act 1992 and other supporting documentation will need to be submitted in the usual manner. The Department is looking at other initiatives to streamline the submission of supporting documentation.

What will importers and brokers need to do?

When making an import declaration importers and or brokers need to accurately enter the government certificate details into the relevant fields below in the Integrated Cargo System (ICS) via their third party software application.

AQIS Document type: NZ PHYTO and AQIS Document number: NZ phytosanitary certificate number.

Please contact your software provider if you are unsure or have difficulties with these fields.

Lodging declarations via Customs Interactive

The Department would like to provide information in regards to a known issue whereby wildcard symbols, for example: “/#” will not be accepted if you lodge the declaration via Customs Interactive.

The solution to this issue is for an Importer/Broker who is lodging the declaration via Customs Interactive to submit the NZ Phytosanitary certificate number in the NZPHYTO “AQIS Document Number” field and use a single ‘space’ where a ‘/’ is used in the certificate number.

For example: “NZL2012/ABCD/123456 will need to be entered in the Customs Interactive as “NZL2012 ABCD 123456”.

Please note: The above solution is not applicable to brokers lodging via third party software as they are able to quote the ‘/’ in the certificate number field.

The below table details how to enter certificate details

Lodgement TypeAQIS Document Type Field AQIS Document Number Field
3rd Party Software NZPHYTO NZL2015/ABCD/123456
Customs InteractiveNZPHYTONZL2015 ABCD 123456

Additional information

Importers and brokers will no longer need to submit a paper version of the New Zealand phytosanitary certificate for clearance purposes because the department will have immediate access to the certificate from New Zealand.

Country and Commodities

Currently Exchanging

The below table details what countries and commodities are currently exchanging with Australia

New Zealand

Plant and Plant based Products (Phytosanitary)

Future Exchanges

The department is currently working with the Netherlands and the United States of America for future exchanges to Australia.

Contact

Please email the eCert imports team or phone 1800 900 090​