Guidance for importers

Importing goods containing asbestos into Australia is prohibited under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956, except under very limited circumstances.

Asbestos can only be imported for research, analysis or display purposes, and in all cases a permit has to be approved by the Minister.

If you are an importer, or if you are importing any goods into Australia, there are some important things that you should be aware of before you bring your goods into the country.

Even if you believe that the goods you are importing do not contain asbestos, there could be a chance that they do.

This section can help you to work out the likelihood that your goods contain asbestos, and who to contact to import samples for testing to make sure that they don’t.

If you do want to import asbestos samples for research, analysis or display purposes, this section also provides information on the steps to take to apply for a permit.

Your responsibility

It is the responsibility of the importer to make sure that goods do not contain asbestos before they are imported into Australia. If your goods are found to contain asbestos they will be seized at the border by the Australian Border Force (ABF). More information on this can found on the ABF website.

Listed below are the steps you can take to make sure that your goods are asbestos-free before you import them:

  1. Get a certificate, declaration or test result from an overseas supplier that confirms the goods or materials are asbestos-free.

    NOTE: The Australian Border Force (ABF) cannot always rely on these kind of documents as confirmation that the goods being imported are ‘asbestos free’. Sometimes, more documentation is needed to confirm that the tests that have been undertaken are equal to Australian standards.

    It is also important to note that the definition of ‘asbestos free’ varies between countries, so it is important that all documents provide details on what is considered ‘asbestos free’ (i.e. some countries consider up to 1% of asbestos within goods to be ‘asbestos free’).

  2. Organise with a current permit holder to have a sample of the goods imported for testing in Australia.

    For further information, visit the asbestos section of Department of Home Affairs website, or refer to their asbestos importation fact sheet which outlines:

    • how the importation of asbestos is regulated at the Australian border
    • products that are at particular risk of containing asbestos
    • how to make sure that materials being imported do not contain asbestos
    • The documents that importers can use to show that imported materials do not contain asbestos.

The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency does a lot of work in order to raise awareness on the risk of importing goods containing asbestos. Recently, the agency worked with the ACT Government (ACT Asbestos Taskforce) to host a seminar designed to raise awareness about the risk of importing goods containing asbestos. The agency will be working with other state and territory regulators to hold similar seminars in other capital or major cities across Australia.