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AQIS has developed operator guidelines for vessels less than 25 metres and vessels greater than 25 metres arriving in Australia to assist masters, agents and owners to comply with quarantine requirements. It is the responsibility of the user to check that they have the latest version and to ensure compliance with legislation.
See www.aqis.gov.au/shipping for the latest versions.
The AQIS Seaports Program is responsible for the quarantine clearance of all incoming overseas vessels, vessel waste, crew, passengers and their accompanied goods. Quarantine controls at Australia’s borders are governed by the Quarantine Act 1908.
Approval for vessel to enter Australia
Overseas vessels must enter an Australian first port of entry. Permission to enter an alternative port must be formally approved by AQIS prior to arrival. To obtain an application form please visit www.aqis.gov.au/shipping
Quarantine pre-arrival reporting requirements
Vessels which are less than 25 metres are required to report prescribed information to an AQIS officer 96–12 hours before the estimated time of arrival at an Australian port. The information can be provided verbally or in writing. If the information changes after it is given, an update of the changes must be provided again as soon as possible.
Prescribed information includes:
- vessel particulars such as name, identifiers, voyage-related details including the number of persons onboard
- health questions highlighting illness and/or death of persons onboard the vessel
- details of any animals onboard.
Vessels which are greater than 25 metres are required to report prescribed information on the Quarantine Pre-arrival Report (QPAR) to an AQIS officer 96 –12 hours before the estimated time of arrival at an Australian port. If the information changes, after it is given, an update of the changes must be provided again as soon as possible.
Prescribed information includes:
- vessel particulars such as name, identifiers, agent and voyage-related details
- health questions highlighting illness and/or death of persons on board the vessel
- proposed crew and passenger movements
- details of animals onboard.
The master of a vessel must notify AQIS if a person onboard displays a prescribed symptom or disease.
Prescribed symptoms include: temperature over 38 °C; unexplained skin rashes, persistent vomiting or diarrhoea, bleeding from the eyes. Prescribed diseases include: cholera, influenza, malaria, measles, rabies and yellow fever.
A yellow quarantine flag must be flown upon entry until pratique (clearance) is granted. Granting pratique includes providing the master of the vessel with a formal certificate on an approved form at their first port of arrival. Under no circumstances are any persons permitted to leave nor board the vessel prior to pratique being granted.
Upon arrival in an Australian port AQIS will board the vessel to review documentation and perform a physical inspection.
Interview with the master
The interview with the master provides the QO with the opportunity to verify the health status of the vessel, people and animals (where applicable) onboard.
On arrival at a first port of entry the vessel will be subject to a physical inspection by an AQIS officer. The inspection may include:
- assessing the health of persons onboard
- inspection of foodstuffs, personal effects/articles
- removal of waste
- assessing biofouling risks
- inspecting timber components
Goods that can and can’t be brought into Australia
For a list of goods that are not permitted into Australia, please visit the AQIS website at: www.aqis.gov.au/canttake
For further information on what goods can be brought into Australia, please refer to the AQIS import conditions database, ICON – Click Here
The following contains examples of items you must declare upon arrival, it should not be considered an exhaustive list:
- all food—cooked and raw food and ingredients
- animal products
- seeds and nuts
- live animals and animal products
- plant material
- used freshwater watercraft, sporting or fishing equipment
Overseas vessels that carry pets are considered high risk therefore require increased surveillance whilst in Australian waters. Prior to arrival at an Australian first port of call, the master must notify AQIS of the presence of animals onboard the vessel.
Where evidence of timber pests (particularly termites) exist the vessel may be ordered in to quarantine and be subject to further inspection, possibly with termite detector dogs.
Refits are ideal times to inspect for termites. Make sure you also inspect the timber that you bring on to your vessel. AQIS must be contacted for approval prior to any refits while in Australian waters.
Since 2005, AQIS has been conducting a voluntary biofouling management regime for overseas vessels less than 25 metres in length arriving in Australia.
It is anticipated that the Australian Government will move towards mandatory risk-based biofouling management requirements for all overseas vessels arriving in Australia and that the requirements will remain consistent with AQIS’s current recommended cleaning practices. These include:
- Application of an effective anti-fouling coating suited to the operation of the vessel
- inspecting, and if necessary, cleaning your vessel including niche areas (including but not limited to internal seawater systems, sea chests, rudder stock and propeller shafts) anchors, chains and other ancillary gear immediately prior to arrival in Australia
- Once inspected and cleaned at an overseas port, departing immediately and travelling directly to Australia to minimise re-contamination
- Maintaining a voyage and biofouling maintenance log and other documentation that supports any biofouling mitigation activities undertaken.
Under the requirements, the focus will likely be on whether the operator’s maintenance regime has been effective in minimising the biofouling accumulation on the vessel, to guard against the presence of quarantinable biofouling pests.
As such, in-water inspections of vessels to determine the level and nature of biofouling present will be a component of the requirements. This may be either as a pre-arrival preparatory action by the vessel owner/operator or an on-arrival inspection. AQIS is proposing that a list of appropriately qualified divers be available for vessel owners to perform these in-water inspections.
The AQIS website will be updated when implementation of these requirements can be confirmed.
While in port, all vessel waste on deck must be secured so that it is inaccessible to birds or animals i.e. bagged and in lidded deck bins. No items are to be taken off the vessel without prior permission from AQIS.
Vessel returning from the Torres Strait
Australia’s quarantine laws are designed to manage the risk associated with the introduction of exotic pests and diseases entering the Torres Strait, or spreading from the Strait to mainland Australia.
If you’ve visited or operated in the Torres Strait you must contact AQIS to arrange a vessel inspection—preferably at Thursday Island before you leave the Strait, or you can report to another AQIS office up to four days before you first make landfall on the mainland. You can contact AQIS via phone, email, VHF (channel 16) or through local harbour authorities.
Importing a vessel into Australia
If the vessel is being sailed, motored or towed into Australia, the vessel must obtain pratique clearance from the first port of entry. For the latest information on importing vessels please refer to the AQIS import conditions database, ICON – Click Here
Contact an AQIS Regional office here to arrange an inspection prior to the vessel arrival.
To obtain information on duties and tax payable, contact the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note: Customs brokers in Australia and overseas will also be able to assist with the procedures on the importation of yachts. Please be advised there will be costs incurred for this service.
Fees and charges
All vessels that enter Australia are subject to fees as outlined in the AQIS Fees and Charging Guidelines.
For further information on fees and charging or to obtain a copy of the AQIS Seaports Program fees schedule please visit the AQIS website at www.aqis.gov.au/shipping