Market access

Interstate Certification Assurance

Certification Assurance schemes were developed to allow a business to self certify its produce to allow interstate and intrastate trade by meeting the destinations quarantine requirements. Different produce and pests have different requirements such as chemical treatments or post harvest inspections.

What is Interstate Certification Assurance?

The Interstate Certification Assurance (ICA) scheme is a national system which allows accredited businesses to self-certify plants and plant products as meeting specific interstate quarantine restrictions.

The ICA Scheme is a national plant health certification scheme accepted by all States and Territories. The scheme is based on quality management principles. It provides a harmonised approach to the audit and accreditation of businesses throughout Australia and the mutual recognition of Plant Health Assurance Certificates (PHACs) issued by accredited businesses accompanying consignments of produce moving interstate.

A similar scheme, referred to simply as the Certification Assurance (CA) scheme, is in place for intrastate (within NSW) or interstate trade between NSW and one or more States and or Territories.

Benefits of an ICA and CA arrangement

The ICA and CA scheme provides a cost-effective alternative to traditional government issued plant health certification that involves a government inspector supervising the treatments and/or inspecting produce and issuing a Plant Health Certificate (PHC).

Fees apply for application, renewal and accreditation, however regular users of plant health certification usually find that an ICA provides considerable cost savings along with the flexibility of being able to self-certify product in accordance with business requirements.

The benefits obtained by individual businesses will vary according to the type of operation and the produce covered by the ICA or CA arrangement. In general the benefits for individual businesses are considerable:

  • increased flexibility of operations (since a business can plan and schedule operations without arranging for a Authorised Officer to be present)
  • improved awareness of quality issues (due to documented staff responsibilities and duties)
  • improved operational control (because procedures are well documented)
  • improved staff participation through structured and documented training
  • reduced certification costs

ICA and CA Arrangements

A business can apply to become accredited under any ICA or CA arrangement provided that it meets the requirements for interstate trade and the business has the ability to conform to the requirements of the particular arrangement.

The ICA and CA arrangement is an agreement between the business and NSW Department of Primary Industries.

An individual ICA or CA arrangement covers one business operating under one operational procedure at one facility.

To become accredited a business must be able to demonstrate effective in-house procedures which will be followed and documented to ensure that the produce meets all specified requirements.

Under an ICA or CA arrangement, the accredited business assumes responsibility for ensuring that all specified treatments and/or inspections previously supervised or completed by an Authorised Officer are completed by the business and that the process is documented and these documents are available at audit.

How do the schemes work?

The ICA and CA schemes are based on documented Operational Procedures that were developed by NSW Department of Primary Industries in conjunction with industry and interstate quarantine authorities.

Operational Procedures describe the management system, processes and process controls that must be implemented and documented by a business to allow them to become accredited to certify a specific ICA or CA (quarantine) requirement.

Each Operational Procedure details the:

  • scope of the procedure (including the pest, products and locations covered)
  • quarantine (ICA or CA) requirements to be met
  • responsibilities and duties of staff involved in managing or implementing the system
  • principles of operation, design features and standards applying to treatment or inspection equipment
  • processes and process controls that must be implemented
  • records and documentation that must be maintained by the accredited business
  • completion and issuance of nationally accepted Plant Health Assurance Certificates (PHACs)

How do I become accredited?

A business seeking to become accredited for an ICA or CA arrangement must complete and lodge an application for accreditation PDF, 1411.15 KB using the prescribed form. Completed applications should be sent to:

Biosecurity Certification
PO Box 232
Taree NSW 2430

Applications must be made by the individual, partnership, incorporated company, cooperative association or other legal entity that owns and operates the business to be covered by the arrangements.

Work instructions for Interstate Certification Assurance (ICA) and Certification Assurance (CA) Operational Procedures are provided to accredited businesses, where required.

The ICA and CA arrangement must be audited before the business can be accredited. Audits PDF, 249.94 KB are a systematic examination of the business, its staff, equipment and facilities to verify conformance with the requirements of the Operational Procedure covering the ICA or CA arrangement.

Regular scheduled audits are carried out on an ongoing basis. The number and frequency of audits will depend on issues such as the period of operation of the facility and the Operational Procedure.