Importing and exporting chemicals and chemical products

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For general information, on preparing to import or export, products, you should refer to the importing and exporting page at business.gov.au.

Are you aware that there are certain chemicals that are banned or restricted in Australia and in certain countries as well as prohibited from being exported, imported or manufactured?

Some chemicals are restricted or prohibited from being imported, manufactured or exported to, in or from certain countries around the world because of their risk to public health and the environment, or the potential for use in chemical weapons programs. The United Nations Security Council(UNSC) sanctions regimes and Australian autonomous sanctions may also prohibit the import, manufacture or export of certain chemicals. It is important that you are aware of which chemicals and which countries such restrictions apply to.

Australia is a signatory to a number of international conventions and participates in trade agreements and export control regimes which create obligations and restrictions for Australia:

  • The Stockholm Convention — protects human health and the environment from persistent organic pollutants through committing governments to a range of measures aimed at reducing and ultimately eliminating their releases.
  • The Rotterdam Convention — lists chemicals and pesticides which require prior informed consent before they are traded.
  • Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) — bans the development, production, possession and use of chemical weapons, and requires the destruction of existing weapons. You should refer to the CWC Guide for Australian Industry Producing, Using or Trading Chemicals for further information.
  • The UNSC sanctions regimes in relation to Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) prohibit the supply of proliferation-sensitive goods and the provision of related sanctioned services. The UNSC sanctions regimes and Australian autonomous sanctions in relation to other sanctioned countries prohibit the unauthorised supply of military items and related services, and may be applicable to the export of certain chemicals. The supply of sanctioned goods and related services is prohibited unless authorised by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is the relevant regulator for sanctions.
  • The Australia Group lists chemical weapons precursors and dual-use chemical manufacturing facilities and equipment which maybe subject to export controls. The Australia Group is an international export control regime chaired by Australia which seeks to ensure that exports do not contribute to the development of chemical or biological weapons.

The export of any item listed on the Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL) is prohibited, unless permission has been granted prior to export. Defence Export Control (DEC) is responsible for administering and updating the DSGL and has delegated authority from the Minister for Defence to grant permission to export DSGL-controlled goods.

A detailed summary of Australia’s international position in relation to agricultural or veterinary chemical products can be found at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources' website.

Work health and safety laws prohibit or restrict the use of some chemicals. Refer to the list of restricted or prohibited chemicals in the WHS regulations. For more information, contact the relevant WHS agency in your state or territory. A list of these contacts is available at the end of this checklist.

Do you know about the requirements for importing chemicals or chemical products?

All importers of relevant industrial chemical products must register their business with NICNAS regardless of the amount of industrial chemical involved. This includes importers of bulk chemicals as well as packaged cosmetic, consumer, industrial and commercial products.

The first step, if you are importing a chemical or chemical product, is to check whether the chemical is on the Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances (AICS). If it is on the AICS, the chemical may be imported in accordance with any relevant conditions. If the chemical is not on the AICS, the chemical may need to be notified to NICNAS before importation.

Work health and safety laws impose the same duties on importers as those on Australian manufacturers including the duty to classify and label chemicals. For more information refer to the WHS regulations in your state or territory. A list of WHS agencies and contact details are at the end of this checklist.

Unless otherwise specified, all imported agricultural and veterinary chemical active constituents and chemical products must be approved or registered with the APVMA or receive import consent, prior to their importation into Australia.

All chemicals listed in the Schedules of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) require an import permit from the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO).

Importing chemicals from countries subject to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanction regimes or Australian autonomous sanctions may be prohibited without authorisation from the Minister of Foreign Affairs. For more information, contact the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Do you know about the requirements for
exporting chemicals, chemical products, or chemical manufacturing facilities and equipment?

If you are planning to export chemicals and chemical products from Australia to another country you may be required to meet certain requirements within both Australia and the destination country. For example, potentially hazardous products will be required to meet all relevant labelling and packaging requirements before they are eligible to be exported. This includes providing a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) with the product to be exported.

If you are exporting to another country and you want to find out about Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) labelling requirements in that country you can refer to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation GHS Reference Exchange and Tool (G.R.E.A.T). This tool enables you to translate Australian GHS labels or pictograms into their local equivalent or the local language in other Asia Pacific countries.

For agricultural and veterinary chemical products many countries have importing requirements which the APVMA may be able to assist with through issuing an export certificate for registered products. If you are exporting an unregistered agvet chemical product then you need to apply to the APVMA for an export permit to transport your product to the border.

If the chemical or chemical product is classified as a dangerous good and is being transported by sea it will need to comply with the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code(IMDG). These requirements are regulated by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

If the chemical or chemical product is classified as a dangerous good and is being transported by air it will need to comply with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air. These requirements are regulated by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

All chemicals, chemical manufacturing facilities, equipment and components (as well as test, inspection or protective equipment) which are listed on the Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL) require a permit from the Defence Export Controls (DEC) before the item can be exported from Australia.

Exporting chemicals to countries subject to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanction regimes or Australian autonomous sanctions may be prohibited without authorisation from the Minister of Foreign Affairs.


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