Coronavirus Latest CBFCA Update  (NNF 2020/022)

I am sure you have been receiving numerous updates on the Coronavirus from various sources, however here is our latest update for your information.

Further to NNF 2020/019 the position has not changed much and it's clear that the coronavirus will have significant impact on Chinese and global supply chains, markets and economies.

At this point the aviation and tourism industries are most impacted and no signs of any border and biosecurity restrictions on imported cargo at the Australian border.

China developments 

As you are aware many provincial governments in China have announced that the Lunar New Year holidays have been extended until Feb 9th with most offices currently due to resume work on February 10th. The Wuhan and Hubei governments at this stage however are in lock down and there is every possibility that the lock down may extend beyond February 9th.

We hear many of the airline carriers will be ceasing their import and export operations to/from China up until March 1st, however this is subject to change at anytime.

Ocean carriers have not advised on any changes to their current export scheduling ex China to Australia, however it has now been confirmed that there are restrictions being applied to the arrival of vessels from China into Australia. Some carriers and publishing blank sailing and this may be due to reduced container volumes at the affected Chinese ports.

Impact on vessels

We have been informed that any ship departing China on or after 1 February will not be allowed to enter port until 14 days have elapsed.  There may be some exemptions granted if a ship can provide evidence that they did not have any contact with locals without protective covering during their port visit  but this will be difficult to prove.  Pilots are permitted to join ships within the 14 day period but are advised to wear basic personal protective equipment (gloves and a mask).  Ships are routinely required to make a health declaration as part of their MARS Pre Arrival Report and some ports and State Authorities have added a requirement for additional declarations, such as their last 5 ports and the date that any crew members last visited China. 

Impact on cargo

We have been advised there is no border and biosecurity restrictions on imported cargo at the Australian border.

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (the department) has confirmed there is no risk of disease transmission via cargo. The department understands industry concerns that restrictions on movement of people and business activities due to the Coronavirus outbreak may impact access to required documentation for goods that were shipped around the time of Lunar New Year.

You should continue to assess documentation under the class 19 Approved Arrangements, answer community protection questions in ICS and lodge import declarations as per all normal procedures. Where this means the cargo will be held pending documentation, movement of goods to an appropriate class of Approved Arrangement site can be requested, as per usual process.

The department will closely monitor the impact of any delays and will touch base with departmental staff posted in China to determine the likely timeframes and areas subject to any restrictions that will affect availability of documentation e.g. GACC certificates. Please provide any written correspondence where issues obtaining documents are directly attributed to the Coronavirus restrictions to [email protected] This will help the department keep informed of the issue and make decisions should the need arise.


If you are missing original bill of lading for goods in transit from China, you can explore the bank guarantee option or telex release if the contracted parties agree to such arrangement. Also work with your shipping line to negotiate extension to free container detention period for containers affected due to the unexpected disruption.

If you are missing country of origin certificates the Australian Border Force has advised using the duty refund process currently available.

As to Chinese treatment certificates the Department of Agriculture will accept copies of certificates for assessment purposes but reserve the right to request originals, as required.

We encourage you to stay in contact with your clients, suppliers and overseas offices / agents to commercially work through the supply chain disruptions, that will significantly impact on the Australian trading community.

More information about the coronavirus can be found on the following websites.

World Health Organisation

Australian Government, Department of Health


Zoran Kostadinoski
Head of Border and Biosecurity

Regional Manager VIC | TAS | SA, CBFCA