Importing and exporting food

container ship in the ocean
Know the rules about importing and exporting foods

Any business wanting to import or export foods into or out of Western Australia must be aware of the appropriate agencies involved and food laws that apply.

The following information outlines key agencies to contact about:

  • importing and
  • exporting foods

and the requirements for registering or notifying the food business with the appropriate enforcement agency. 

Importing food

General information about importing food into Australia can be found on:

Registering an imported food business

Businesses that import food into Western Australia are considered food businesses and therefore must register with the local government where the imported business is located. 

Read registration of a food business for information about how to register.

Food laws 

All food that is imported and sold in Western Australia must comply with Australian food law, including the Food Act 2008 and Food Standards Code. 

Read more about starting a food business for information on WA food laws. 


All imported foods must comply with Australian labelling requirements. Obtain copies of the food labels from the supplier to check they comply with the requirements of the Food Standards Code. 

Read food labelling for food importers for labelling requirements for imported foods.

Ingredients and additives 

To ensure that the food complies with ingredients and additive requirements, obtain the ingredient information documents and product specification sheets from the supplier. The ingredients and additives must comply with Parts 1.2, 1.3 and 1.4 of the Food Standards Code (external site).

Recall plan

Food businesses importing food must have a system in place to ensure the recall of unsafe food. The system should be outlined in a written document and the document should be available to an authorised officer on request. The food business needs to comply with the system when recalling unsafe food.

Read food recalls for information about food recall requirements

Help complying with food laws 

A food business importing food may not have the necessary expertise in house to determine how to comply with the food laws. Help may be required from a suitably qualified expert (for example a food consultant or lawyer). Please refer to starting a food business for tips on finding professional support.

Exporting food

Exporting agricultural food products

The Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (external site) controls export of agricultural products. Businesses that export agricultural products overseas must contact the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment for further information.

Additional advice may be obtained from Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (external site) in Western Australia.

Exporting food business – notifying the Department of Health

Food businesses that export agricultural products listed below must notify the Department of Health:

  • poultry
  • red meat tier 1
  • red meat tier 2
  • fish handling and processing
  • fish vessels
  • eggs
  • dairy processing and dairy stores.

Read registration or notification of a food business for information on how to notify the Department of Health. 

Exporting food business – notifying local government

Businesses that produce or process food for export and are not listed above must notify the local government where the exporting food business is located. 

Read registration or notification of a food business for information about notifying local government.

If the business also sells food in Australia they may need to register with the local government.

Monitoring of imported food

Food being imported into Australia is subject to monitoring and testing according to the Department of Agriculture Water and Environment Imported Food Inspection Scheme (external site).

Concerns about the labelling or composition of imported foods should be referred to the local government where the product is sold or purchased for further investigation if required. 

Last reviewed: 04-03-2021
Produced by

Environmental Health Directorate