503 - 12/06 - AQIS Inspection Requirements - Australia

The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) requires information in relation to cabotage issues where foreign registered ships have a single or continuing voyage permit to move domestic cargo between Australian Ports. All cargo moved within Australia under these arrangements is subject to Quarantine in accordance with Section 74D of the Quarantine Act 1908 (which relates to directions to the movement of goods subject to quarantine).

A previous notice relating to cabotage was issued in 2003 by the Australian Government and can be viewed at


During the first port inspection, the ship's master will be required to declare if the ship has a single or continuing voyage permit and/or licence to carry domestic cargo.

International ships intending to carry bulk cargoes such as fertiliser or grain (actionable cargoes), require an empty hold assessment for level 1 (L1) vessel classification or inspection by an authorised quarantine officer prior to loading for cargo holds designated for the carriage of domestic cargo.

L1 vessel status is an element of the 'Imported Bulk Cargo Fertiliser Inspection Protocols' and is administered under the Quarantine Act 1908.

L1 rating is given to a ship when:

· An 'all holds inspection' has been conducted and passed by authorised AQIS officers for Fertilizer Imports in an Australian Port; or

· When an 'all holds inspection' has been conducted and passed by authorised AQIS officers for prescribed grains / goods exports in an Australian Port under the PPPO's / Export Control Act; or

· From a third-party marine surveyor under supervision by AQIS officers who will ensure the surveyor uses a man lift and checks all areas of the hold structure.

The ship retains L1 status as long as:

· Actionable cargo (see list below) is not transported since the issue of L1 status; or

· The issuance of a loading permit by an accredited and authorised AQIS officer.

For more information on the L1 rating, please contact the National Coordination Centre (bulk) at


AQIS inspections are only available in ports where accredited AQIS officers are based and available. These ports include: Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Gladstone, Brisbane, Newcastle, Port Kembla, Melbourne, Geelong, Adelaide, Wallaroo, Port Lincoln, and Perth. For ports in Tas, WA and NT please contact the AQIS Regional Office.

If a hold inspection is not conducted prior to the ship loading bulk domestic commodities (actionable cargoes) in that hold, it will result in the cargo undergoing a full inspection prior to discharge. If these inspections are not undertaken, AQIS can order the domestic product into quarantine if contaminated with goods subject to quarantine from the ship.

For information on fees and charges for assessments and inspections visit


Agents are required to notify their local AQIS office prior to the ship's arrival, of the intention to load bulk actionable domestic cargo and make arrangements for the hold inspections on the ship.

In terms of quarantine contamination, actionable cargo includes, but is not limited to the following items, dependant on their origin:

· Grains and cereal crops, e.g. wheat, barley, oats, maize, sorghum

· Leguminous crops, e.g. beans, peas, soybean, lucerne

· Meals and/or stock feed

· Oilseed crops

· Rice (raw, unpolished, with husks on)

· Sugar cane

· Sand

· Soil

· Contaminant plant material, e.g. leaves, weed seeds, twigs, woodchips, bark, etc

· Other quarantine items identified in the Quarantine Act 1908 and other related legislative and regulative documents

· Animal material, e.g. feathers, bird excreta, etc.

International ships that intend to carry non-actionable cargo


within Australia

do not

require an L1 vessel inspection.

Further enquiries should be directed to the local AQIS seaports office or the National Coordination Centre (Bulk) in Newcastle (02496 24450).

Source of information:

Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service



Staff Author