The overseas countries and ports where sea containers and break bulk cargo are loaded on to vessels may expose these goods to contamination with animal or plant material or soil, or allow pests of biosecurity concern to hitchhike a ride to Australia.
Sea containers and breakbulk cargo from countries and ports identified as having documented high levels of contamination or high risk pests are considered as high risk pathways by the department.
As a result, sea containers and breakbulk cargo arriving from or transhipping though these high risk countries and ports are subject to mandatory inspection by the department.
We refer to these high risk countries or ports as Country Action List (CAL). Sea containers and break bulk cargo originating or transhipping through these countries and ports are known as CAL cargo.
CAL cargo is inspected at the wharf of arrival. This minimises the risk of introducing pests or contaminants to Australia.
High-risk pests and contaminants include:
- giant African snail (GAS) and other snails
- black-spined toads
- exotic bees and ants
- soil, plant or animal material.
Make sure you are aware of Country Action List requirements.
Plan ahead. There may be actions you can take to reduce intervention at the wharf.
Check the Country Action List
Be aware of the countries we consider high risk. Check the list before you ship or tranship CAL cargo.
Countries on this list include:
- American Samoa
- Brunei Darussalam
- Burkina Faso
- Central African Republic
- Christmas Island
- Congo (Democratic Republic)
- Cote d'Ivoire
- Equatorial Guinea
- French Polynesia
- Micronesia (Federated States of)
- New Caledonia
- Northern Mariana Islands
- Papua New Guinea
- Solomon Islands
- Wallis and Futuna
- West Papua
The cargo reporter for the cargo must report discharge details for CAL cargo in the Department of Home Affairs Integrated Cargo System (ICS).
When this must be lodged:
- For a voyage longer than 48 hours — minimum 48 hours before the vessel is estimated to arrive at its first port in Australian territory.
- For a voyage shorter than 48 hours — minumum 12 hours before the vessel is estimated to arrive at its first port in Australian territory.
Empty container destination details
Avoid delays in clearing empty containers.
A biosecurity officer at the wharf will conduct external inspections. The process for internal inspections depends on the facilities at the discharge port.
For ports with an empty container park AA site, empty containers must be moved directly to an empty container park for internal inspection. This happens after external inspection by a biosecurity officer.
Each shipping agent lodging an ICS cargo list report for empty CAL containers must tell us which empty container park is receiving the containers. Email details to Container NCC.
- create an entry in our system for each cargo list reporter
- send a movement direction requiring empty containers to be moved to the nominated empty container park
- issue invoices for fees as per our charging guidelines to each cargo list reporter.
For ports with no empty container park AA sites, a biosecurity officer at the wharf of discharge will conduct internal inspections of empty containers at the same time as the external inspections.
Stevedores are responsible for manging CAL cargo on arrival. CAL cargo must be:
- managed in accordance with the First point of entry biosecurity standards (ports)
- stacked and stored separately to non-CAL cargo and salt ringed (or other department-approved control) to minimise pest movement and cross contamination
- held on the discharge wharf until released by us in the ICS.
All cargo not reported in the ICS must be segregated until reported in the ICS. This means it cannot be released without the appropriate inspection.
Stevedores must provide our biosecurity officers access to CAL cargo storage areas. They will confirm salt ringing or other approved barriers are in place and there is adequate separation from non-CAL cargo.
All CAL cargo must be inspected at the first Australian port of discharge, prior to release from the discharge wharf.
Inspections consist of:
- a six-sided external inspection for all containers
- an external inspection of break bulk cargo
- an internal inspection of empty containers conducted by either
- accredited industry staff at empty container park AA sites
- biosecurity officers at the wharf of discharge in ports without empty container park AA sites.
If we detect biosecurity risk material, it will be removed at the time of inspection (if possible) and destroyed in a biosecurity approved manner.
If it cannot be removed, the CAL cargo may be directed to an AA site for:
- cleaning and reinspection
- other approved treatments.
See the biosecurity risk treatment guide for types of contamination and their treatment options.
In the event of cross contamination, further action may be required on surrounding cargo. Surrounding cargo may include in-contact cargo or cargo in close proximity.
We determine if cross-contamination has occurred.
We issue directions to shipping agents to:
- outline biosecurity requirements
- manage CAL inspections
- prepare charging invoices for each discharge port.
We manage this through our an electronic system, the Agriculture Import Management System (AIMS).
Biosecurity directions must be complied with. Failure to comply with biosecurity directions is treated seriously and may result in civil or criminal sanctions being applied. This can range from fines to terms of imprisonment. Other action may include suspending, varying or revoking approved arrangements.
Shipping agent responsibilities
The principal shipping agent:
- will be sent directions to secure all CAL cargo on the wharf for inspection
- must ensure wharf-based inspections are completed within direction timeframes
- is responsible for all department fees related to CAL inspections.
Charges associated with empty container park inspections, third party treatments and cleaning are applied by the relevant service provider.
Collecting your cargo
Electronic holds are automatically applied in the ICS to any cargo originating from or transhipping through a CAL country or port. Held CAL cargo cannot be moved from the wharf until we lift the hold electronically in the ICS.
We will lift the ICS electronic holds on the cargo report or cargo list when:
- we have inspected the cargo
- it is no longer subject to biosecurity control.
If your cargo is imported from a CAL country or port, make sure you check the status of your cargo with the relevant stevedore before you arrange collection.
This applies at all Australian ports of discharge.
Reduce intervention on imported containers
The Sea Container Hygiene System (SCHS) supports voluntary arrangements between:
- us (the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment)
- industry entities that perform offshore management of biosecurity risks associated with sea containers.
This system recognises entities that demonstrate consistent CAL container cleanliness by reducing intervention rates on subsequent container shipments.
Ongoing compliance to the system can result in a reduction of on-arrival inspection rates from 100% to as little as 5%.
Transhipped cargo is goods that are:
- landed but not imported into Australia
- reloaded on to an on-carrying vessel for delivery to an overseas port.
If certain conditions are met, CAL cargo that is to be transhipped to an overseas destination may be allowed to do so without inspection by us.
To request CAL cargo be transhipped without inspection:
- download and complete the CAL cargo transhipment form
- email your form to Container NCC
- at least 1 full business day before vessel arrival.
Fees will apply. Check our charging guidelines.
The requesting party must advise the CNCC immediately if any of the details of transhipment change after the request has been granted (e.g. departure date or vessel change).
You must meet these minimum requirements:
- cargo must be reported in the ICS as having an overseas final destination
- transhipment forms must be submitted to us at least 1 full business day before vessel arrival
- cargo must be segregated from other cargo on the wharf and surrounded by an uninterrupted salt barrier or other department-approved barrier
- cargo must be loaded directly aboard the stated on-carrying vessel and shipped directly overseas from the wharf of arrival (cargo moved between wharves in the same port may not be considered)
Other biosecurity risk factors will be taken into consideration on a case by case basis.
If we allow you to move transhipped cargo without department inspection, the cargo:
- will be subject to random verification inspections on the wharf to verify their compliance with Australia’s biosecurity requirements (prior to transhipping) and any biosecurity risks detected may result in further intervention on a fee-for-service basis
- may be directed for further intervention at any time if any of our requirements are not met.
Transhipping empty containers generally do not require internal inspection, unless advised otherwise by a biosecurity officer (e.g. live pests detected on container surfaces).