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The export approval process explained

Answer these questions to determine if you’re ready to export wine to new markets.

Wine export approvals: 4 key steps

There are four key steps in the wine export approval process, with a few considerations to factor in along the way.

By clarifying each step one by one, you will know the correct path to follow to ensure you remain compliant with export rules and regulations – in both Australia and your chosen export markets.

The four key steps, known collectively as the ‘export controls’ include:

  1. Getting an export licence
  2. Product registration
  3. Shipping approval
  4. Additional export documentation

Licencing and Compliance Guide

For detailed information on regulatory requirements for the production, sale and export of Australian wine, read Wine Australia’s Licensing and Compliance Guide.

Which products are captured by the export controls?

The export controls apply to grape products as defined in the Act and the Regulations and includes:

  • wine manufactured in Australia from prescribed goods (fresh or dried grapes or grape juice of single strength or concentrated)
  • brandy distilled in Australia
  • grape spirit manufactured in Australia suitable for the fortifying of wine or the manufacture of brandy; and
  • a product that includes wine, is derived in whole or part from prescribed goods (fresh or dried grapes or grape juice of single strength or concentrated) and to which an Australian standard applies (i.e. ‘wine products’, ‘wine-based beverages’, low-alcohol wines, alcohol reduced wines).

Non-alcoholic grape products that contain zero alcohol are not captured by the export controls. Click here for more guidance on exporting light, low and no alcohol wines

Step 1. Getting an export licence

You can apply for an export licence through WALAS (Wine Australia Licensing and Approval System) once you have created an account. Instructions and an overview of the WALAS platform can be found here.

The application will ask whether you are a Wine Grapes Levy Payer, which is a person who pays a levy based on the volume of grapes crushed at a winery. Wine Grape Levy Payers are eligible for a reduced licence fee in the first year. You will need to include your ABN to be eligible for the reduced fee. If you are not liable to pay the Wine Grapes Levy, select ‘no’.

Allow five business days for review and processing of your licence application. If your export licence is granted, you will receive an email notification with a link to a downloadable PDF document. You will also be assigned a Licence ID number, which you will need for all interactions with WALAS.

More information on getting an export licence

Step 2. Product registration

Once you are a licensed exporter, you can apply to Wine Australia through WALAS for product registration and label registration.

To complete the application you will need: 

  • Certificate of analysis – your supplier may be able to provide this, if not the product will need to be submitted to a laboratory. Do a quick Google search to find a suitable lab in your area, or search NATA for an accredited supplier. 
  • Label Integrity Program record (LIP) / product composition – this record verifies the vintage, variety, and geographical indication (GI) of the wine. If you have a supplier, they will be able to provide you with this.
  • Label images – exporters are required to upload images of labels (front and back view, if applicable) into WALAS as a precursor to gaining shipping approval. Learn more about requirements in the Licensing and Compliance Guide.
    • Multiple back labels can be uploaded against a singular front label.
    • The image of the wine label must be either .JPG, .PNG or .TIFF format.
    • The image size must be a minimum of 600 pixels x 600 pixels with a minimum resolution of 72 DPI.
    • A photograph of the original artwork on the bottle will be accepted, provided it is in the correct file format.
  • The application must also indicate whether the label makes any organic or biodynamic claims as such products must comply with the Export Control Act 2020 administered by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (see Organic goods certificate).

If labels are to be applied in the destination market, exporters can voluntarily upload labels after they are applied to ensure they appear in ELISS (Export Label Image Search System), which is a publicly accessible label directory maintained by Wine Australia. The platform allows brand owners to identify potential breaches of intellectual property rights and provides a platform through which consumers can verify whether a label has originated in Australia.

More information on product registration, associated exporters and Food Standards Code exemptions

Step 3. Shipping approval

To complete the export-approval process, licensed exporters must submit a shipping application to Wine Australia via WALAS for each consignment of wine leaving Australia (in excess of 100 litres).

The application must include:

  • shipping details, including the date of export, destination country and consignee (obtained from the freight forwarder)
  • a list of product labels identified by their product approval numbers
  • volume in litres and FOB values that make up the consignment; and
  • an organic goods certificate (if applicable). Learn more about organic wine export requirements here.

If the consignment complies with all requirements, Wine Australia will issue an Export Permit Number (WBC number). This will be sent by email, which can be forwarded to the freight forwarder. The permit number is required to obtain an Export Declaration Number from Australian Border Force.

Step 4. Additional export documentation (if applicable)

Some customs authorities or importers require additional certification for wine imports. Refer to the Export Market Guides for country-specific information.

Wine Australia is authorised to issue VI-1 documents for exports to the EU and UK and Certificates of Origin for most markets. Wine Australia can also issue Certificates of Free Sale. Certificates of Origin for Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore need to be obtained via the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Exporters can apply for most export documents online via WALAS.

More information on export documentation.

Procedures for bulk wine (if applicable)

In preparing bulk wine exports it is recommended that exporters comply with the Bulk wine loading, unloading and transportation procedure. Bulk exports include containers such as Flexitanks, ISO tanks, kegs or barrels that are 60 litres or more, with a volume of 55 litres or more.

Wine Australia's role

Wine Australia is a statutory authority governed in accordance with the Wine Australia Act 2013 (Act). Our regulatory framework includes:

  • administration of the export controls on wine exported from Australia in accordance with Part 3 of the Wine Australia Regulations 2018 (Regulations) by issuing licences, export approvals for grape products, and export certificates
  • ensuring that grape products exported from Australia comply with the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (Food Standards Code)
  • ensuring that exported products comply with the laws of the importing country
  • Maintaining the Register of Protected Geographical Indications and Other Terms in accordance with the Act; and
  • ensuring the truth of claims made on wine labels about vintage, variety and origin through administration of the Label Integrity Program in accordance with Part VIA of the Act.

Under the Regulations, all wine shipments over 100 litres require export approval from Wine Australia. Unless an exemption has been granted by Wine Australia, grape products exported from Australia must comply with the Food Standards Code. The Food Standards Code prescribes permitted additives and processing aids for wine and products containing wine. It also sets out mandatory labelling requirements such as those pertaining to allergens, standard drinks, alcohol content and lot identification.

It is an offence under section 44 of the Act to export a grape product from Australia without the following being issued at Wine Australia’s discretion in accordance with the Regulations:

  • a licence to export grape products from Australia (which can be refused, cancelled or suspended by Wine Australia);
  • approval of grape product for export (which can be refused, suspended or revoked by Wine Australia); and
  • an export certificate (more commonly referred to as a ‘shipping approval’) in relation to individual shipments (which can be refused or revoked by Wine Australia).

The maximum penalty is two years imprisonment.

In making decisions in relation to licences, approval of grape products and export certificates, Wine Australia must have regard to the relevant criteria set out in the Regulations.

You can find a list of Wine Australia’s export fees here

This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.

Levy payers/exporters
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This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.