Research Division

Importing biological material

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: Is my material subject to Australian biosecurity restrictions?

The Department of Agriculture's BICON system provides definitive information on conditions which apply when importing material from overseas. Performing a BICON search will reveal if:
  • 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.

BICON tips
  • 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

Sample cleanliness

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.