Australia has recently introduced new requirements which require an importer to certify that their product does not contain asbestos.

Australia is one of the few countries in the world that has an absolute ban on asbestos. While many countries permit products that contain low levels of asbestos and, as such, can be labelled as ‘asbestos free’, this is not the case in Australia.

Although the asbestos ban has been in place in Australia for over 10 years, it is now being strictly enforced by the Australian Border Force due to the increasing number of imported products identified as containing asbestos.

In addition, the Australian Border Force are specifically inspecting ‘high risk’ products, such as building products, electrical items and mechanical devices from countries such as China. The Australian Border Force are also targeting shipments from suppliers who have been previously been identified as sending asbestos containing products to Australia.

What happens if a shipment product is targeted?

If the Australian Border Force suspects that a product contains asbestos, they will impound it until the importer certifies that it does not contain asbestos. Australian Border Force may also require the importer to provide results from an accredited laboratory certifying that their product does not contain asbestos.

If the product contains asbestos or if the importer is found to have falsely stated that it did not contain asbestos, then the importer has committed a criminal offence which is punishable with a maximum fine of over US$100,000. The product will also be confiscated and subsequently destroyed by the Australian Border Force.

How to prevent your shipment from being targeted?

Importers must have documentation to support their certification that their product does not contain asbestos. In respect of “high risk” products, importers should also consider obtaining certification from an accredited laboratory stating that their product does not contain asbestos.