Moving to Australia - What is AQIS?

Old Jan 4th 2013, 9:11 am
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Default Moving to Australia - What is AQIS?

We quite often get asked about the AQIS charges by customers who are moving to Australia, so we thought we'd explain a bit better - hopefully it helps:

What is AQIS for?

The Australian government are naturally keen to protect their environment and important agricultural industries from pests and diseases being bought in from other parts of the world which is a risk when importing personal effects for example from outdoor furniture concealing timber pests or contaminated soil or animal products containing diseases that can be transmitted.

For this reason all household goods shipments entering Australia will be assessed and potentially inspected by AQIS before they are released for delivery. You must provide an inventory of goods within your shipment and identify any specific items that may be of concern. If AQIS have concerns they may undertake inspection before release and they may also request items be treated before release, if treatment is not possible they may seize and destroy any prohibited items or ask that they are re-exported.

Below we’vewe'veummarised some of the key information provided by the AQIS which we hope will be of use in preparing for your move.

What common items are of quarantine concern to AQIS?

AQIS have two main areas of concern - any item that originated from an animal or a plant (including timber), or contains part of an animal or a plant AND any item that has been in contact with animals, plants, water, food or soil.

With regard to specific items the Australian government has noted may be of concern you can check out a list on the DAFF website here:

What can’t I take to Australia? Prohibited goods:

AQIS will not allow the importation of the following items as personal effects:
  • fresh fruit and vegetables
  • live plants and bulbs
  • prohibited and restricted seeds
  • unidentified seeds, which can include some foods, including spices
  • live animals (including pets) that require an import permit
  • biological products including some plant based, herbal medications
  • unprocessed goods of plant or animal origin
  • soiled items, or items containing organic residues
  • items knowingly infested with pests or a disease.
If you are in doubt of an item and want to determine if the item is prohibited by AQIS, check the AQIS import conditions database—ICON. ICON identifies if an item is permitted entry, any treatement/permits required and any additional concerns.

What should I do to avoid AQIS issues when packing?

Preparation is an important key to packing up your household goods to ensure a successful move. When packing, take the time to prepare household goods for AQIS inspection upon arrival. Using a professional moving company to pack your belongings will reduce the risk of any problems during your AQIS inspection and your crew should be trained to identify and rectify and potential issues.

Cleaning your household goods and garden items for AQIS inspections

Before packing, AQIS requires that any items that have been in contact with food, soil, plants, animals, or their products, are thoroughly cleaned and free from any contamination.

This includes, but is not limited to:
  • all used equipment and machinery—drain all standing water, and ensure the equipment is free from contamination
  • garden furniture, tools and implements—make sure all soil, animal and plant debris are removed and all surfaces are thoroughly cleaned
  • animal bedding and grooming equipment—wash and vacuum animal bedding, and clean grooming equipment to ensure all residual pet hair has been removed
  • waste bins, brooms, vacuum cleaners—make sure all waste is removed and the equipment is thoroughly cleaned
  • fresh water sporting equipment—make sure reservoirs are completely drained and dry, and that equipment is dry on arrival, including wetsuits, gumboots and fishing tackle.
Other tips:
  • Check surfaces of your timber items for any signs of insect infestation (sawdust–like powder, fresh holes, chewed timber or tunnels).
  • If you find signs of insect infestation, consider either not bringing the item, or treating it for the timber pests prior to shipment.
  • Kitchen goods—do not pack half opened packages of dry foods, herbs and spices that may be harbouring insect pests that are difficult to see.
  • Consider whether you really need to ship any natural plant or animal product that has not undergone some form of manufacturing process. These items may need expensive treatments, at your own cost, to mitigate quarantine risks on arrival in Australia. Cheap tourist souvenirs made of untreated plant or animal products, subsequently requiring treatments in Australia, can end up costing more than you would expect.
Packing List for the AQIS assessment:

You will be required to provide a detailed inventory of your shipment including clear labelling. If your moving company are providing packing services we will complete this on your behalf and provide you with a copy.

If you are doing this yourself ensure you label your boxes and reference these on the inventory with a list of items contained in each box.

If you have identified any items that AQIS may be interested in it is a good idea to pack these items together and separately from the rest of your items that are not of concern. This way the inspectors do not need to unload/unpack your entire shipment to perform their inspection.

If you are using your own packing boxes be sure that these do not pose a concern for AQIS – for example used food packaging that may have been in contact with organic substances and do not use straw/sawdust or wood products for packing or filler.

Ensure any previous labelling on boxes is removed or covered if you are using second hand boxes to avoid misunderstandings or confusion during inspection.

What is the AQIS Process?

If you are using a moving company on arrival of your belongings in Australia they will normally handle the process of clearing through customs and AQIS inspection on your behalf. They will ensure before departure that we have all the correctly completed paperwork required to reduce the time taken and risk of any issues. Once this is complete they will deliver your goods to your new home.

If you are handling customs and AQIS processes independently of your moving company/shipping company then visit to find out what is involved.

What does an AQIS inspection cost? Quarantine fees and charges

Many moving companies may inform you that this charge is not included in your quotation and that this is payable locally, the reason for this is that it is not a fixed fee and can vary depending on your individual shipment and AQIS decisions.
More information on Quarantine fees associated with the clearance of personal effects can be found on the AQIS fees and charges for import clearance web page.

Quarantine fees that you will be required to pay up front include the creation of a manual quarantine entry and documentation screening charges. Depending on the region you are having your goods processed in, you may be required to pay a minimum ½ hour up front inspection fee.

Quarantine inspection fees are based on a ½ hour unit of inspection time. Your final quarantine inspection fee will be dependent on the time it takes for an AQIS officer to inspect your goods. Additional charges will apply if your goods require treatment prior to release.

How can I keep costs of my AQIS inspection down?

Quarantine inspection charges are based on the amount of time it takes to inspect your consignment. You can keep costs to a minimum by:
  • following the advice on the AQIS website
  • not packing anything that is prohibited entry into Australia
  • not packing anything that will require a treatment of some kind, unless that item is of particular significance and you are willing to pay treatment fees
  • ensuring your packing list is accurate and clearly identifies contents and matches the numbered boxes
  • packing items subject to quarantine inspection in the same box
  • clearly identifying boxes that may contain items of quarantine concern
  • ensuring that items that have been in contact with animals, plants and soil are thoroughly cleaned and free of quarantine risk material before they are packed. AQIS officers will still be required to have a look at them to check them for any quarantine risk material and subsequent treatment.
If you've got any hints and tips for the AQIS inspection please feel free to share them here!
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