Seed imports to Oz

Coffee Camp
Fri, 26 Jan 2007 00:09:45 PST
My experience with AQIS is that Australia Post staff at the main Mail Sorting Office co-operate with the Customs Service by opening all postal articles with declared plant material or any package without at Customs Declaration.  The opened articles are then passed to AQIS staff based with the sorting office for inspection.  After inspection the consignment is passed back to Post Office staff for re-sealing with tape marked 'Opened by Australia Post for inspection by Quarantine' with the inclusion of a couple of leaflets as described by Bill Richardson.

However, I would clarify Bill's comment in response to Lee that we have 'no such restrictions'.  We cannot import any plant material listed as prohibited on AQIS's Import Conditions Database (ICON)…  These are mainly plants which naturalise easily to become weeds.  Also, we can only have one species in a packet and the seed must be clean (ie out of the berry/no dirt) and be labelled with the botanical name. Oh, and seeds cannot be sprouting...a bit tricky with some of the Amaryllis seeds.

I have had several consignments seized. When this happens, the addressee receives a letter from AQIS advising of the seizure and the reason.  The addressee has 30 days to 1) pay AQIS about $40 for them to return the seed to sender (a very well paid mail clerk!) or 2) pay AQIS about $40 for them to treat/fumigate the seed thus rendering it unviable (clever!) or 3) do nothing and they will destroy it after 30 days for nothing.  Clearly they want to destroy it.

I've had several consignments seized because the sender did not identify the seed as asked or used a common name instead of the botanical name.  In these cases I must write (fax as e-mail takes too long!) AQIS with the info and they then forward the seed to me by - wait for it - Registered Post at no charge. Recently, I had seed of  Merwilla plumbea from South Africa seized because it was unknown by AQIS.  I informed them that it was previously called Scilla natalensis which is an allowed import & suggested they update their database.  No problem, however, it was I and not AQIS staff who had to contact their Plant HQ in Canberra to request that the database be updated. This being done I received the seed.

Geoffrey in sub-tropical NSW


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