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Help with making a certification choice

For the purposes of plant biosecurity certification and accreditation services, a biosecurity certificate is used to confirm that the consignment it accompanies meets the stated quarantine requirements. Biosecurity certificates are accepted by Biosecurity Queensland and the quarantine authorities of other Australian states and territories.

A biosecurity certificate may be either:

  • a plant health certificate (PHC), issued by Biosecurity Queensland (BQ) inspector
  • a plant health assurance certificate (PHAC), issued by an accredited certifier, accredited to operate 1 or more accreditation arrangements within a certification assurance scheme.

Reasons for choosing between the different means of certification will vary from business to business and depend on factors like cost, convenience and if the certification option is available, i.e. if there is an accreditation arrangement for the products needing certification.

It is the responsibility of the person seeking the biosecurity certificate to choose the certification option which best fits their needs.

Factors to consider if obtaining a biosecurity certificate from a BQ inspector

Inspection services are charged at an hourly rate plus travel, as shown in the schedule of fees and charges for plant biosecurity certification and accreditation services.

An inspector may not be readily available when the certificate is required, e.g. on weekends and public holidays.

The option of obtaining a certificate from an inspector is therefore best suited to businesses:

  • that require a certificate infrequently
  • aren't seeking a certificate outside normal business hours
  • where the accredited certifier option is not available for the products being certified.

Factors to consider if obtaining a biosecurity certificate from an accredited certifier

An accredited certifier can issue their own biosecurity certificates in the form of a plant health assurance certificate (PHAC) for their own produce.

The cost of becoming an accredited certifier depends on a number of factors, including the:

  • number of accreditation arrangements being sought
  • number and duration of audits required.

An accredited certifier may operate a number of accreditation arrangements. An accreditation arrangement is defined as an accredited certifier operating an operational procedure (accreditation system) at a single location (facility). Each arrangement requires a separate application form and application fee.

Accredited certifiers may need to undergo regular audits by an approved auditor. Audits of accredited certifiers are charged at an hourly rate plus travel. Read the schedule of fees and charges for plant biosecurity certification and accreditation services.

The benefits of becoming an accredited certifier include:

  • increased flexibility of operations - the businesses can plan and schedule operations without needing to arrange for a Biosecurity inspector to be present
  • improved awareness of quality issues (through the use of documented responsibilities and duties for your staff)
  • improved operational control (through well-documented procedures)
  • improved staff participation (through structured and documented training)
  • reduced certification costs.