Australian Government - Australian Customs and Border Protection Service

To protect Australia's borders and foster lawful trade and travel.

What are CEFs?

What are Customs and Border Protection container and cargo examination facilities (CEFs)?

CEF examination facility

The CEFs are examination facilities housing x-ray systems and other equipment to enable rapid physical examination of selected consignments. They assist Customs to detect prohibited goods, including illicit drugs, illegal firearms and other harmful goods as well as assisting in the verification of compliance with import and export requirements.

In excess of 2.2 million Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (TEU) are imported into Australia annually (as at July 2011). Approximately 70% of these are imported into Melbourne and Sydney which are the country’s busiest international container ports.

What are the benefits?

CEFs allow Customs and Border Protection to inspect a significant amount of cargo coming into Australia without slowing down processing times for the cargo industry. They enable more efficient detection and risk-management while allowing closer integration with industry processes.

They provide Customs with:

  • increased ability to detect prohibited, illicit and non-compliant goods in sea cargo
  • ability to sample trade for misreported consignments, revenue evasion, smuggling and fraud
  • rapid, safe and non-intrusive means of verifying container contents

while providing Australian industry with

  • faster clearance rates
  • a reduction in the time consignments remain under Customs control
  • enhanced compliance with increasingly stringent international demands for secure trade without a major impact on legitimate container traffic flow

Where are the CEFs and when did the CEFs begin operation?

Customs and Border Protection officer monitoring x-ray screens

The four major CEFs are located in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle. These facilities house container x-ray machines capable of x-raying up to four sea cargo containers at a single time. There are also smaller Cargo Examination Facilities in Adelaide, Newcastle, Darwin, Launceston and Townsville.

The Melbourne CEF started operations on 9 December 2002, Sydney on 3 February 2003, Brisbane on 3 March 2003, Fremantle on 24 November 2003 and Adelaide on 14 March 2005. The Darwin container examination building was opened on 14 July 2005. The facilities in Newcastle, Launceston and Townsville commenced operations on 1 July 2009.