Steps to get a sea or air container facility approved

Transitional and containment facilities must meet standards and be approved by MPI. Find out what you need to do to get a facility that accepts air or sea containers approved.

Follow the steps 

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Check you're eligible to submit an application

MPI has some core requirements you must meet before submitting your application.

Facilities covered by this process

This process covers steps to get a facility approved to receive goods in containers. If you want approval for a facility to receive goods that aren't in containers, there is a different process to follow (some facilities may need both processes).

Answer these questions to find out if you're ready to apply

1 Have you passed your transitional facility operator course?  

We can't process your application if you haven't done the operator course.

Find out what you have to do

2 Do you have accredited persons?  

Accredited persons must be on your site to check containers.

Find out about getting accredited


Does your hardstand meet MPI specifications?

  • Is there at least 3 metres clearance around the hardstand?
  • Is it sealed (asphalt, concrete, or similar)?
  • Can it be easily cleaned?
  Without the right hardstand, you can't become a transitional facility. 

Can you meet all onsite security requirements as explained in the:

   You must be able to meet all onsite security requirements.
5 Will you receive more than 10 containers a year?  

We're unlikely to approve a new facility getting fewer than 10 containers a year.

Find out more

Note: You will be charged for the costs and time involved processing your transitional facility application whether or not it's approved. It's in your best interests to ensure your application is complete before you send it to us.  

When you can answer 'yes' to all 5 questions, you're ready to start making your application. You can proceed to Step 2 

Low container volumes

MPI considers container volumes when approving new transitional facility applications. This is because facility operators and staff who process low volumes of goods each year can find biosecurity requirements to be burdensome or confusing. This can lead to compliance issues and disproportionate costs for MPI.

We'll consider facilities that are likely to receive less than 10 containers a year on a case-by-case basis. We'll take into account things like special requirements for imported goods (for example, if imported equipment needs specialised handling or specialised unloading gear).

Importers handling low-risk containers should consider applying for approval of a Multi-site Transitional Facility (MTF) System.

Find out about the approval process

Where to find requirements for getting your facility approved.

Get advice from MPI

Contact your local biosecurity inspector for information on setting up a facility before applying for approval.

You can also request a facility approvals information pack from the national facilities team.

Review the relevant facilities standard

To gain and maintain approval for your facility, it must meet specific requirements outlined in the relevant facilities standard.

For facilities receiving sea containers or general risk goods use the Standard for transitional facilities for general uncleared risk goods (TFGEN).

For all other types of facility, search for the relevant standard.

Requirements for multi-site transitional facilities

Importers who bring in low-risk sea containers – and don't want to have their own transitional facility – can apply for approval of a Multi-site Transitional Facility (MTF) System. This allows them to have containers delivered to their business subject to certain conditions.

Facility approval costs

You'll be charged a minimum of:

  • $887.70 (+GST) for processing an approval of a facility and facility operator 
  • $887.70 (+GST) for processing an approval of a change of operator.

You'll be charged:

  • $102.27 (+GST) per hour for inspection and auditing services
  • an annual fee of $298.05 (+GST) for an approved facility.
Prepare documentation

Complete forms and prepare supporting material.

Complete the required forms

You will need to complete an Application for approval of an MPI transitional or containment facility and/or operator regardless of your type of transitional or containment facility.

Additional documentation that you will need to send with your application will depend on whether you are applying for:

  • approval of a new facility
  • a change in approval (change in facility location or type of goods)
  • a change of ownership or name of a facility.
Checklist of other required documentation

The application for approval form has a checklist of other required documentation, which may include the following forms:

Provide facility operator details

Every facility must have an approved operator who has overall responsibility for the facility.

Operators of transitional facilities approved to the Standard for general transitional facilities for uncleared goods and Post-entry quarantine for plants must complete a training course to be an approved operator.

You will need to provide the following operator details with your application for facility approval:

  • copy of the operator certificate of training, if required
  • operator's residential address, country of birth and phone number
  • copy of operator's photo identification (such as driver's licence or passport).

Prepare a facility operating manual

You will need to provide a facility operating manual with your application for approval of a facility. Check the relevant facility standard for guidance on preparing an operating manual.

For transitional facilities approved to the Standard for general transitional facilities for uncleared goods (TFGEN) or Post-entry quarantine for plants, MPI has guidance material to help you develop your operating manual.

Apply for facility approval

Send documentation and find out processing times.

Check you have completed all the application requirements by completing the checklist on the application for approval form.

Send your completed documentation to your local inspector and the national facilities approvals team.

What happens next?

Only completed applications can be processed. Applications with all the required information will be placed into the queue for processing. The approval process can take up to 6 weeks.

MPI will contact you to organise a site visit. Following completion of any recommended actions, you will be notified whether your facility has been approved or not.

Incomplete applications

If you don't provide everything we need, we will contact you to request the missing information. We won't start processing your application until we receive the remaining information.

You will need to provide the remaining documentation to MPI within 10 working days from the request from MPI.

If you don't provide everything we need, we'll decline your application and tell you why. You'll need to re-submit the entire application.


Who to contact

To send an application for approval, change of approval, or to get advice about a facility, contact the national facilities team:

To talk to MPI about facility approvals:

  • phone 0800 22 20 18 (Option 5)


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