UNSW Quarantine & Biosecurity

The Biosecurity Act 2015 came into effect on 16 June 2016 to replace the Quarantine Act 1908 as the primary piece of biosecurity legislation in Australia.

The new legislation provides UNSW Sydney with the opportunity to centralise the management of all Biosecurity sites with one annual licence fee to cover multiple Approved Arrangements.

For further information please contact Dr Ted Rohr, Director Research Ethics & Compliance Support, via M: 0417 844 054 or E: quarantine@unsw.edu.au.

**RECS is working with the relevant committees and regulators to facilitate the fast-tracking of important research proposals related to COVID-19 projects where time lines are urgent to contribute to the global research efforts. Researchers should contact RECS to discuss on an individual basis.

For overarching UNSW Guidelines regarding return to campus please visit https://www.covid-19.unsw.edu.au/.

Import Permits

To help protect Australia's unique environment from unwanted pests and diseases, the Department of Agriculture regulates products imported into Australia. You can use the Biosecurity Import Conditions System (BICON) to determine whether the goods intended for import into Australia: 

  • is permitted
  • is subject to import conditions
  • requires supporting documentation
  • requires treatment 
  • needs an import permit

Click here to Launch BICON 

At UNSW Sydney, individual schools or research group apply directly to the Department for import permits. In most instances, your school or research group would already have an import permit to which you just need to add your material onto the goods list. Contact your group's head or school's administration staff for details. If not, email us at quarantine@unsw.edu.au for details.  

Your materials' import permit would indicate whether you need to store and handle the materials under an Approved Arrangement (AA).

Importation of certain goods are also subject to the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Amendment Regulations 2019 which is administered by the Australian Border Force. Importation of goods over the the exemption limit such as tobacco would, therefore, require an import permit from the Department of Home Affairs which is separate from the permit issued by Department of Agriculture above. More information on the prohibited goods list and how to obtain the import permit can be found here

Approved Arrangements

Previously called Quarantine Approved Premises, AAs are understood as contracts between the organisation and the Department that allow the organisation to manage the biosecurity risks arised from the materials at their specific premises, facilities, equipment and people.   

At UNSW Sydney, applications for new Approved Arrangements and subsequent monitoring inspections are managed by RECS. The application process is time-consuming and involves multiple site inspections. Hence, you should contact us as soon as it is determined that you need a new Approved Arrangement and ideally prior to your facility's construction or refurbishment. Alternatively, we may be able to connect you with currently active AAs depending on your materials' import conditions and those AAs' availability. 

The following flowchart summarises the workflow for certification of a new Approved Arrangement: 


Requirements for operating Approved Arrangements

Depending on your materials' biosecurity risks and the proposed activities, you may be required to handle your imported material under a specific class of Approved Arrangement. At UNSW, common Approved Arrangement classes are either 5.1 or 5.2. Click on the header for more information.

 Class 5 Approved Arrangement

  • Used for research, analysis and/or testing of imported biological material including micro-organisms, animals and human products and soil. This type of site includes microbiological facilities, animal facilities and plant laboratories
  • Depending on the biosecurity risks to humans, animals or plants, Class 5 AA is further divided into 4 biosecurity containment levels, from lowest risk (5.1) to highest (5.4) 
  • Facilities that fall under the Class 5 AA of higher containment level must also meet requirements of all lower containment levels. As such, AAs of biosecurity containment level 5.3 must meet requirements of levels 5.2 and 5.1

For each of the AA subclasses, there are guidelines of requirements that need to be fulfilled to obtain & maintain approval. It is important to download these documents and go through the check list in preparation for the site audits. The Department might decide to amend these guidelines without notice, so please refer to the Department's website for the most updated information:  http://www.agriculture.gov.au/import/arrival/arrangements/requirements    


Imported biological goods used in vivo

Biological goods are goods that contain or are made using any material originating from an animal, plant or microbial (including viral) source. Research materials imported using an Import Permit are subject to conditions of use. This may include restrictions on how the imported materials may be used (e.g. for in vitro use only) or the species that may be exposed to the imported materials (e.g. approved for use in laboratory species such as guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, rats, rabbits or microorganisms only). 

In planning for research projects, it is important that researchers identify all biological material they intend to use and whether the material has been imported into Australia. Researchers must familiarise themselves with all conditions of use on imported biological goods prior to commencement of their research project. This includes materials sourced from a commercial supplier or research colleague in Australia. Conditions on use apply to imported biological materials even after the importer has sold the material or shared the material with another entity in Australia. 

If it hasn't been included in your original import permit conditions, you need to apply to the Department for a separate application for In Vivo Approval (IVA) in order to conduct an in vivo study of the imported biologicals. Please contact us for more details. 

Approved Arrangement accreditation training

It is a requirement in most AAs that biosecurity activities are undertaken by an accredited person. 

There are two ways to get accreditation training through the online fee-paying courses provided by Australian Industry Training Group on Biosecurity or WiseTech Academy

In-house training is also recognised as appropriate for AA accreditation given that the training must include the following topics: 

  • responsibilities of accredited persons
  • management of biosecurity risk (containment, treatment, disposal, storage)
  • security and isolation
  • hygiene
  • inspections (where applicable)
  • waste disposal
  • record keeping

In addition to the above, in-house training material must be based on what accredited persons must do to ensure compliance with the requirements of the classes they are approved for.

More information on training requirement can be found on the Department's website.


Incident reporting

All incident involving materials required containment in an Approved Arrangement must be reported as soon as possible to the AA Senior Manager at quarantine@unsw.edu.au 

Security Sensitive Biological Agents

Certain biological agents have the potential to pose significant risks to Australia, either by providing risks through terrorism or by posing infectious disease risks for the Australian public or plants and animals. These agents are called Security Sensitive Biological Agents (SSBAs) and are administered through the Australian Government Department of Health via the SSBA Regulatory Scheme

For information on the SSBA Regulatory Scheme and a current list of SSBAs please visit the Department of Health SSBA website. Please contact Dr Ted Rohr, Director Research Ethics & Compliance Support, via M: 0417 844 054 or E: quarantine@unsw.edu.au if you consider to conduct research involving SSBAs.