Biosecurity refers to the federal and state governments’ efforts to prevent and respond to pests and diseases that threaten the economy, environment, and security of the nation and state.

This includes quarantine (under the Biosecurity Act), Security Sensitive Biological Agents (regulated by the Department of Health), and Defence Trade Controls (under the Defence Trade Control Act).

Import permitAn import permit allows the importation of biological materials and other risk goods. Import permits must be carefully read to ensure you comply with the post-entry conditions specified for the imported material. The conditions of importation may include restrictions whereby the goods may only be used and contained within facilities approved as Quarantine Approved Premises (QAPs).

To check import conditions:

  • Check whether an import permit is required by searching the biosecurity import conditions database (BICON). BICON lists the import conditions for thousands of commodities. It is important that you read and check that the conditions specified will suit the work planned.
  • There are task cards and e-learning modules available to assist with the use of BICON.
  • Up to date information on BICON can be found here.
  • If you are unable to find the material or 'commodity' in the BICON database, please email a detailed description of what you would like to import to the Biosafety Office and they will provide further guidance.

To apply for an Import Permit:

  • If you wish to import biological materials you will need to self register for a BICON account by requesting to join a multiple user account within BICON.
  • Instructions for this can be found on the support page as a BICON 'Task Card'. NB: You will need to specify ‘The University of Western Australia’ as the organisation name and '[email protected]' as the associated email.You will be issued with an Import Permit which will stipulate specific conditions affecting the imported goods. Make sure that the description of the goods on the import permit matches that of the goods you plan to import. Report any discrepancies the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources immediately to avoid problems at the time of importation.

Important additional information to note:

  • Note 1: The Department issues a large number of import permits that restricts the use of the imported products to in vitro or in vivo use in laboratory animals only. These permits direct users of the imported product to apply for specific In Vivo Approval from the department if they wish to use the product in non-laboratory animals e.g. sheep, cows, ferrets or invertebrates. If your research involves in vivo use please refer to the Departments page on In Vivo Approvals.
  • Note 2: The Department for the Environment has a List of specimens (including plants and animals) considered to be suitable for live import into Australia. Live specimens or reproductive material may only be imported if they appear on the live import list. Those specimens in Part 2 of the list, require a permit from the Department of the Environment in addition to the Department of Agriculture permit. List of specimens taken to be suitable for live import.
  • Note 3: Check the CITES species list to see whether the species that you intend to import live also requires a CITES permit.

AA facility AA is a facility approved by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR)  (formerly Dept. of Agriculture) for the purpose of receiving, storing and dealing with materials that are subject to quarantine. Not all imported goods require AA containment. The Import Permit 'conditions' will state whether the goods must be held in an AA as well as the level of containment required. Clarify these post entry conditions first.

  • The approval process for a AA application may take several months so it is imperative to plan well in advance!
  • Although the requirements are similar, an OGTR-certified Physical Containment facility is not the same as a AA and certification by one agency does not necessarily guarantee certification by the other.
  • If a AA is required, there are transport, training and record keeping requirements that must also be met.
  • There is a requirement that only disinfectants that have been assessed and approved by the Dept. of Agriculture and Water Resources are used in particular classes of AA. Alternatives will be considered by the Department if they are shown to be effective and address the quarantine risk.

Approval process

You should liaise directly with the WA AA Officer

The approval process:

  1. Review the application process information provided by the Department here.
  2. Check that the facility complies with the appropriate Containment Criteria. The Containment Criteria set out the requirements for containment facilities which are to be used for research, analysis and/or testing of imported biological material including micro-organisms, animal and human products and soil. Included in criteria are microbiological, animal and plant facilities. The Quarantine Containment Level required will be stipulated on the Import Permit.
  3. Arrange a third party assessor to conduct an inspection of the facility (note that this is not required for QC1 facilities). If the facility passes the physical (construction and engineering) assessment a Third Party Assessor Compliance Certificate will be issued.
  4. Send an Application for Approval of a Place for Performance of Quarantine to Dept. of Agriculture and Water Resources.
  5. The premises and your documentation showing how you will comply with the containment criteria will be assessed by a Department of Agriculture and Water Resources inspector. If you meet the criteria, an AA approval certificate will be issued.

Security Sensitive Biological Agents

In January 2009 a new regulatory scheme was implemented by the Department of Health to improve the security of biological agents that could potentially be used in acts of bioterrorism.

The University of Western Australia is not a registered entity on the National Register to handle SSBAs or suspected SSBAs.  If you wish to work with and or store any SSBAs you will need to get a permit. Please contact the Biosafety Office to discuss requirements. 

The list of regulated agents includes bacterial and viral toxins and agents that pose a danger because of their ease of transmission and/or the severity of illness they cause. The list is divided into two parts: Tier 1 agents pose the greatest risk, while Tier 2 agents are rated as less likely to pose a security risk.  

Defence Trade Controls