What is biosecurity?
Biosecurity (sometimes referred to as quarantine) is the principles and preventative measures taken to reduce the risk of the introduction, spread and establishment of diseases, pests or invasive species which may adversely affect the natural environment, agricultural production or human society.
Biosecurity is regulated by the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture (Biosecurity Australia) at the national level, and by Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment (Biosecurity Tasmania) at the state level.
Sam Poynter, Biosafety and Biosecurity Officer
|Approved Arrangement||A biosecurity containment facility for which an approval is in force under paragraph 406(1)(a) of the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth).|
|Approved Quarantine Place||A place, or part of a place, that has been approved by Biosecurity Tasmania as meeting containment standards suitable for storage and use of plant material under biosecurity control.|
|BICON||The Department of Agriculture Biosecurity Import Conditions Online system.|
|Biosecurity Event||The detection or uncontained presence of a disease, pest or invasive species (Biosecurity Act 2019 (Tas))|
|Biosecurity Industry Participant||A person or organisation who is the holder of the approval of an Approved Arrangement with DA under the Biosecurity Act 2015.|
|Biosecurity Material or Matter||Any material which may pose a risk to Australia or Tasmania’s natural environment, agricultural production or human society, and is regulated by DA or Biosecurity Tasmania. This includes any carrier of such material.|
|Biosecurity Tasmania||Tasmanian biosecurity regulator; part of DPIPWE.|
|Corrective Action Request||Notification provided by a regulatory authority to the manager of a certified facility regarding the detection of a regulatory nonconformity and advice for action to rectify the non-conformity.|
|DA||Commonwealth Department of Agriculture; responsible for enacting the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth) and subordinate regulations.|
|DPIPWE||Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment. Responsible for enacting the Biosecurity Act 2019 (Tas) and subordinate regulations.|
|TBIRD||Tasmanian Biosecurity Import Requirements Database.|
The University has several Approved Arrangement facilities of varying classes which may be used for activities involving material under biosecurity control. The table below lists the location of these facilities and the relevant Facility Managers.
Facility Managers must provide approval prior to commencing work with biosecurity material in their facilities.
|Approved Arrangement Contacts|
|Location||Facility Manager||Approved Arrangements|
|Plant Science, Sandy Bay||Valerie Hecht||T0067, T1299, T1300, T1301, T1304, T1314|
|IMAS Waterfront||Pam Quayle||T1262, T1270, T1325|
|Central Science Laboratory||Leesa Borojevic||T1233, T1275, T1276|
|Medical Science||David Steele||T1237, T1294|
|IMAS Newnham||Mel Leef||T1048|
Process for importing material to the University
This flow chart describes the necessary steps to import biological material which may pose a biosecurity risk to Australia or Tasmania.
Please note that Australian and Tasmanian regulations are different, and it is important that you understand what your obligations are when importing and using biosecurity material. This includes being familiar with the conditions of Import Permits you may be using.
If you are unsure of your obligations, or require assistance, contact the Biosafety and Biosecurity Officer.
- Step 1
- Step 2UTAS has a number of Import Permits available for use. Find out if you can use one, or if you need to submit a new application
- Step 3You may need a Tasmanian import permit, exemption or special authority in addition to an Australian import permit
- Step 4
- Step 5Submitting Notification of Intent to Import
- Step 6Entry numbers, directions and inspections
- Step 7Release from biosecurity control (or contained use of high-risk materials)
Step 1: Is my material subject to Australian biosecurity restrictions?
- An import permit is required, and the material remains under biosecurity control and must be used in an Approved Arrangement containment facility.
- An import permit is required and the material can be released from biosecurity control on arrival.
- An import permit is not required, but conditions or restrictions apply on the material.
- The material is not a biosecurity risk and no conditions apply.
If you determine that an import permit is not required, but conditions or restrictions apply, it is your responsibility to ensure that any conditions are met. There are significant civil and criminal penalties for breaching Australia's biosecurity laws and regulations.
- You can save a BICON case by selecting 'Save/Print' from the Case Options menu on the right side of the page.
- BICON groups commodities into cases. Each case defines the broad conditions which apply to the commodity, and is built based on the answers you provide during the search process. Examples of common cases include:
- Plant material for research purposes
- Water (including sea water and ice cores)
- Microorganisms and infectious agents
- Animal fluids and tissues
- Use the Quick Search tab to look for your commodity. Use generic terms for your search, avoiding the use of scientific names if possible.
- Most commodities allow use of imported material for in vitro use only, or allow in vivo use in laboratory animals. Special permission must be obtained if you wish to use your imported material for in vivo research in non-laboratory animals.
- Imports of plant material (including seeds, cuttings, bulbs and foliage) is considered high risk due to the potential impact a disease outbreak may have on the Australian environment and economy. Conditions for imports of plant materials are strict. If you want to import plant material and are unsure of the implications of import conditions, contact the Plant Science Facility Manager or the Biosafety and Biosecurity Officer.
Step 2: Using or applying for an Import Permit
The University of Tasmania holds a number of Import Permits for frequently imported materials. If you have determined that a permit is required for your material, contact the Biosafety and Biosecurity Officer or the Biologicals Users Group (BUG) to determine if a permit is already held for your material.
If you determine that you will need to apply for a new permit, it is requested that this process be managed through the Biosafety and Biosecurity Officer, who has a central UTAS account with the Department of Agriculture and can negotiate appropriate permit conditions based on how you intend to use the imported material.
Please note that the application process may take up to 14 weeks, and lodgement fees are payable to the Department of Agriculture
Step 3: Checking Tasmanian biosecurity conditions
Biosecurity Tasmania also apply conditions to the import of biological material from interstate. Check their quick guide to find out if restrictions apply.
Biosecurity Tasmania publishes a list of Animals and Invertebrates with unrestricted entry requirements. Please note that there are no entry requirements for laboratory rodents being imported from mainland Australia.
Plants may be imported from mainland Australia, although many have specific Import Requirements because they pose a threat to Tasmania's biosecurity. Consult the Plant Biosecurity Manual and/or Biosecurity Tasmania TBIRD database to determine if Import Requirements apply to your material.
Step 4: Obtaining access to an Approved Arrangement
Many imported materials must remain under biosecurity control after their arrival in Australia. This generally implies that they must be stored and used within an Approved Arrangement (AA; formerly QAP) containment facility. To obtain access to an appropriate AA, you will need to complete and induction (and potentially a Fit and Proper Person declaration) through the Facility Manager.
Some materials must also be used within an Approved Quarantine Premise (AQP) under Tasmanian legislation. If you determine this is necessary, contact the Biosafety and Biosecurity Officer or relevant Facility Manager for information on how to access these facilities.
Step 5: Pre-arrival tasks
As a general rule, all imported material should be packed in new, inert packaging such as ziplock bags. Samples must be free of extraneous material (e.g. soil or vegetable material) which could carry microorganisms.
It may be necessary to obtain a phytosanitary certificate or other evidence that your material is free from risk material prior to import. Consult the conditions of your Import Permit to determine if this is necessary.
Notification of Intent and Importer's Declaration
If you are importing plant material, you will need to submit a Notification of Intent to Import to the Department of Agriculture and Biosecurity Tasmania. This must be received by the recipient at least 5 business days prior to the arrival of your consignment.
You may also need to prepare an Importer's Declaration or Manufacturer's Declaration to accompany your material depending on the conditions of your Import Permit.
The Notification of Intent forms and a Declaration template can be found on the Forms page.
Material arriving on research vessels
Special arrangements are in place for importing biosecurity materials on research vessels. These arrangements must be put in place prior to voyage departure, and involve the preparation of a sample manifest by voyage personnel. Contact the Biosafety and Biosecurity Officer for further information.
Material sent through the mail
If you are posting material, please ensure your package is clearly marked with the Import Permit number (if applicable).
Some materials (such as seeds) must be addressed to the Victorian Regional Office (cnr Grant and Centre Roads, Tullamarine VIC 3045) for on-arrival inspection. Check the conditions of your Import Permit prior to addressing your package.
Material carried as accompanied baggage on an international flight
If you are returning from overseas with biosecurity material, you must carry a paper copy of your Import Permit (and possibly an Importer's Declaration depending on permit conditions) with you for presentation to Australian Border Force or Biosecurity Officers on arrival.
Step 6: On-arrival tasks
Entry number and directions
Material entering Australia which is under biosecurity control will require the issue of an entry number by the Department of Agriculture. The entry number will be accompanied by directions, which state what must happen to your material before you can use it. The directions may simply be a movement direction, which requests that the material is moved to an AA, or they may involve inspection by a Biosecurity Officer, fumigation or other treatment processes.
An entry number and directions should be issued prior to the arrival of your material in Australia, but it is possible that your material may arrive without them. If you believe this to be the case, a manual entry request must be lodged through the Biosafety and Biosecurity Officer.
Material carried as accompanied baggage on an international flight
If you are returning from overseas with biosecurity material in your baggage, it must be declared on your Incoming Passenger Card. You will be required to present the material to Australian Border Force or a Biosecurity Officer on arrival at the airport, along with a copy of your Import Permit and any other paperwork required as a permit condition.
It is important that you request that an entry number be provided to you when you declare your biosecurity material at the airport.
Receiving biosecurity material
Once your material arrives at the University, it should be stored and used only in compliance with the conditions of your Import Permit.
Step 7: Post-arrival tasks
After your material has arrived, you may need to undertake additional tasks depending on the directions issued with your entry number.
Arranging an inspection and performing treatments
Some biosecurity material must be inspected by a Biosecurity Tasmania Officer on arrival. To arrange an inspection, complete the Biosecurity Tasmania inspection request form. If you need to arrange fumigation of your material, or perform other treatments, contact the Biosafety and Biosecurity Officer for advice and details of preferred service providers.
Request release from biosecurity control
Some material may be released from biosecurity control once treatments have been performed. To apply for release, complete the Application for Transfer or Release of Biosecurity Material form.
Comply with permit conditions
It is important that you comply with any conditions of the Import Permit used when your material was imported. These conditions continue to apply even after the permit has expired (provided that the material has not been released).
There are strict penalties for non-compliance with Australia's biosecurity laws. If you are concerned that you cannot comply with the conditions of your Import Permit, contact the Biosafety and Biosecurity Officer immediately.
The central point of contact between the University and biosecurity regulators is the Biosafety and Biosecurity Officer.
Please submit completed forms to the Biosafety and Biosecurity Officer (email@example.com).
|Application for Transfer or Release of Biosecurity Material||Department of Agriculture form for movement of biosecurity material between Approved Arrangements, or release of biosecurity material.|
|Importers Declaration||Template for creating an Importers or Manufacturer's Declaration to accompany imported samples.|
|In vivo approval||Application for approval to use restricted imported biological material in vivo.|
|Import Notification - nursery stock||Department of Agriculture form to provide advice of import of nursery stock (including plant tissue culture). Must be completed and submitted at least 7 business days prior to anticipated arrival.|
|Plant Research Material Questionnaire||Department of Agriculture form required as part of new applications for plant research material import permits.|
|Standard Laboratory Microorganisms||List of standard laboratory microorganisms which can be imported from overseas without remaining under biosecurity control (non-GM strains only).|
|Biosecurity Tasmania NoI - grains and seeds||DPIPWE Notice of Intention to import grain or seed from interstate and/or overseas.|
|Biosecurity Tasmania NoI - plant material||DPIPWE Notice of Intention to import plant material from interstate and/or overseas.|
|Biosecurity Tasmania inspection request form||DPIPWE form for booking an inspection of imported plant material.|
As part of the development of an operations framework to guide biosafety and biosecurity at the University, the Biologicals Users Group (BUG) is an open-access forum which aims to cultivate an active and engaged community of staff and students who work with biological materials.
What do I get from participating in BUG?
BUG aims to provide members with a means to:
- Share experiences and resources
- Seek help for operational issues and solve problems
- Extend skills and knowledge
- Remain up-to-date on regulatory and legislative obligations
- Engage with the Institutional Biosafety Committee
This will be supplemented by a regular information bulletins, and opportunities for involvement in group events and training activities.
BUG is live!
BUG is a predominantly online forum, and maintains a presence through the Microsoft 365 platform, which includes Teams and Yammer pages for communications and a SharePoint site for distributing news, details of upcoming events, and relevant forms, information and training materials.
How do I join BUG?
Visit the BUG page on Microsoft Teams to join the conversation. Please share the page with your colleagues and students who may be interested!
Got any questions?
Please contact Sam Poynter (Biosafety and Biosecurity Officer) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that Import Permits can take up to 14 weeks to be issued, and incur an application fee. This should be factored into the milestones and budget of your project.
An Approved Arrangement (AA) is a containment facility which is approved by the Department of Agriculture for performing activities involving biosecurity material. AAs were formally known as QAPs.
An Approved Quarantine Place (AQP) is a facility approved by Biosecurity Tasmania for containment of plant and soil imported from mainland Australia. It is not the same as an AA.
BICON is the Department of Agriculture's Biosecurity Import Conditions Online system. It contains a database of conditions which apply to the import of various commodities and their end uses.
Consulting BICON is the first step when importing material from overseas. If you determine that you need an Import Permit, please contact the Biosafety and Biosecurity Officer, who maintains a central University account. It is requested that all permit applications are processed through the central account.
The University holds import permits for a variety of commodities including:
- Human therapeutics for clinical trials
- Animal tissues from certain species
- Seeds and plant material from certain species
- Soil and water
If you would like to use any of these permits, please contact the Biosafety and Biosecurity Officer.
Rats and mice for research may be imported into Tasmania without specific entry requirements. Please discuss your proposal with Animal Services or the Biosafety and Biosecurity Officer.
Plants and plant products pose a significant risk to Tasmania's biosecurity. To determine the import requirements that may apply when importing plants from mainland Australia, consult the Tasmanian Biosecurity Import Requirements Database (TBIRD) for further information.
Yes, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) may be imported to Tasmania, but additional conditions may be imposed, and permits will usually be required from the Department of Agriculture and Biosecurity Tasmania.
A dealing application to work with GMOs must be submitted to the University of Tasmania Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC). It is recommended that the dealing application is submitted prior to applying for an import permit, as a Record of Assessment is usually required to support a permit application.
Tasmania maintains a moratorium on the commercial release of GMOs to the Tasmanian environment. This may impact your research proposal. Please contact the Biosafety and Biosecurity Officer for more information.
It is recommended that invoices from the Department of Agriculture are paid using credit card via the Department's secure online payment portal as DA enforce a 28 calendar day payment cycle and you may incur a 20% payment penalty if overdue.
Notify your College, School or Institute Finance and Administration representative prior to submitting a credit card payment.
If you are collecting marine samples from within Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ; 200 nautical mile limit) on an Australian-flagged vessel (such as RV Investigator or RSV Aurora Australis), your samples do not need an import permit. Please note that the SOTS buoy is outside the EEZ.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) stipulates that biosecurity containment facilities must establish a systematic approach to the management of goods subject to biosecurity control which takes into account traceability, reconciliation and information management in accordance with the Biosecurity Act 2015, subordinate legislation and any other directions given by the Department.
A project is underway to implement a management system for tracing biosecurity-regulated materials imported to Australia and/or Tasmania by University staff and students. There will be opportunity for consultation during development of the system.
For further information, please contact the Biosafety and Biosecurity Officer.
The Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) is the University authoritative body regarding gene technology, biosecurity-regulated materials and biologically-hazardous materials.