Human Biosecurity Measures at Australia’s Border

With the speed of air travel, an outbreak of an infectious disease may occur on the other side of the world and an infected traveller may bring that disease into Australia within hours. Effective human biosecurity activities are an essential part of protecting Australia from these diseases.

Page last updated: 04 October 2017

Minimising the entry and spread of infectious diseases into Australia is achieved through a continuum of management strategies which operate pre-border, at the border and post-border.

Pre-border strategies primarily include the provision of information for travellers through social media, websites ( and and targeted communication campaigns. Post border strategies include the use of state and territory public health systems to identify and treat diseases not intercepted through the border processes.

The process at the border for screening, and assessing the presence of, Listed Human Diseases involves four main mechanisms:

  • Pre-arrival reporting of illness or death by operators of aircraft and vessels
  • Pratique (permission to unload passengers and cargo)
  • Administration of the Traveller with Illness Checklist, and
  • Referral to a Human Biosecurity Officer for medical advice or assistance

As a party to the International Health Regulations (2005), Australia also has programs to assist with the prevention of the international spread of infectious diseases:

  • Aircraft disinsection on arrival of aircraft, and
  • Ship sanitation certification.

Pre-arrival reporting of illness or death

Refer to information on Reporting travellers with illness


Pratique is a term for the permission granted to arriving international vessels and aircraft entering Australia allowing for things to be unloaded from, and persons to disembark from the aircraft or vessels. By requiring pratique to be granted, human health issues can be identified and managed before the vessel or aircraft is unloaded or disembarked.

Aircraft and vessels meeting the requirements under the Biosecurity Act 2015 are automatically granted pratique, known as positive pratique. Aircraft and vessels not meeting these requirements must be granted pratique by a biosecurity officer on arrival in Australia. Pratique granted by a biosecurity officer is known as negative pratique.

More information can be found on the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website

Ship Sanitation Certificate Scheme

The Ship Sanitation Certificate Scheme is a requirement of the International Health Regulations 2005 (IHR), to which Australia is a signatory. Legislated under the Biosecurity Act 2015, Australia’s Ship Sanitation Certificate Scheme provides for the inspection of ships and issuance of internationally recognised Ship Sanitation Certificates, and establishes a scheme for addressing any human biosecurity risks associated with international vessels.

The scheme seeks to control the international spread of disease by inspecting for and controlling animal vectors (rodents and mosquitoes), preventing the discharge of untreated ballast water, checking certification of potable water and sewage, and applying biosecurity measures for human carriers of disease.

More information can be found on the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Website