Australia’s continued growth in wine export requires exporters and would-be exporters to understand the regulatory framework. The regulations and legal requirements exist to protect the reputation of Australian wine. They recognise Australia’s abundant source of regionally distinctive wines and emphasise maintaining the integrity of the region where the wine was produced.

Wine exporters are required to comply strictly with these regulations and legal obligations. Failure to do so may result in the cancellation of your license to export and, in extreme cases, to prosecution. So what exactly are the regulations wine exporters are required to comply with?

What is the Regulatory Framework for Wine Export?

Australia’s wine regulatory framework comprises the Food Standards Code (‘the Code’) and the Australian Grape Authority Act (‘the Act’). The Food Standards Code underpins how the wine is made. All wine and wine products submitted for export must comply with Australian wine standards as set out in the Code. The Australian Grape Authority Act determines how producers and exporters can describe wine. Importantly, all products need also to comply with the law of the country of destination.

How is Compliance Monitored?

Compliance with these regulations is monitored through two key activities:

  1. Label Integrity Program: The label integrity program requires making and keeping records throughout the supply chain. This is to ensure claims made about the regional, varietal or vintage origins of the wine can be substantiated.
  2. Sampling and chemical analysis of samples: A statistically valid sample of the wine is sampled to ensure compliance with the Code. 

What is the Application Process?

Australia’s wine regulations exist foremost to protect the reputation of Australian wine, to assist operators in the Australian wine sector to comply with international regulatory requirements, and to monitor compliance with the relevant elements of Australian law.

All wine shipments over 100 litres require export approval, and the process to obtain approval involves three steps:

  1. License to export
  2. Product registration
  3. Export permit

License to Export

Wine exporters must be licensed. Before granting a license to export, the Australian Grape and Wine Authority (‘AGWA’) considers each application against the following criteria:

  1. The applicant’s financial standing,
  2. Whether the applicant has a place of business in Australia,
  3. Whether the applicant can obtain grape products,
  4. Any matters that may adversely affect the export trade,
  5. Any other matters relating to the promotion of Australian wine,
  6. Whether the applicant has had a license cancelled, and
  7. Whether a related company has had a license cancelled.

The application fee is non-refundable if you decide to withdraw your application or if the AGWA decides not to grant it. Licenses are not transferable and are renewable annually, subject to the payment of the renewal fee. The AGWA can also suspend or cancel a license if the application/license holder breaches the regulations. You can complete the license application form online on the AGWA website.

Product Registration

You must register your wine with the AGWA before export. To obtain approval, you must submit a ‘Continuing Approval Application’ for each product. This application requires the sample analysis details for each wine and the compositional details of the vintage, variety and geographical location of the wine. Each registered product is then issued a ‘Continuing Approval Number’.

Wine Export Permit

The final step is submitting a Shipping Application for each consignment of wine leaving Australia. Each application notifies the AGWA of the intention to export, and should be lodged 10 days before the date of departure. It will include all of the shipping details, as well as a list of products with their continuing approval numbers. The AGWA will then issue an Export Permit Number. This is required to obtain an Exit Declaration Number from the Australian Customs Service.

Exemptions

There are specific exemptions to these requirements, namely:

  • Shipments under 100 litres, or
  • Wine contained in the personal luggage of a traveller, or
  • Commercial samples for a prospective buyer, or
  • Wine displayed at a trade fair. 

Consequences of Non-Compliance

Non-compliance with these regulations can result in severe consequences. These include AGWA instructing you to re-label the non-compliant product, cancelling your license to export and, in extreme cases, prosecution.

 Conclusion

Australia’s regulatory framework exists largely to protect our enviable reputation in producing quality wine. This commitment is reflected in the possible consequences, which exporters may face if they fail to comply with the regulations. To ensure you do not fall foul of these strict requirements, you should first talk to an experienced lawyer. If you have any questions about wine export, please call LegalVision on 1300 544 755 and talk to us about how we can best help you.

Claudette Yazbek

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