Ascension Island Government


About Biosecurity

Biosecurity regulations are in place to reduce the risk of new species arriving in Ascension that could negatively affect public health, the environment and the economy. Ascension Island is a unique and special place and with everyone’s help it can be safeguarded.

This webpage provides guidance for people travelling or importing goods to Ascension Island. Import Health Standards (IHSs) are biosecurity requirements that certain items must meet before they can be imported. Some higher risk articles may also need a licence to be imported. For a breakdown of which imports require extra measures, visit the Requirements tab. The Documentation tab contains all the documents you will need to understand and comply with the import requirements.

Incoming vessels and aircraft that intend to land cargo or baggage, or disembark passengers or crew, must meet the relevant specification and complete a declaration form prior to arrival. These can be found in the Documentation tab. Passengers will also be asked to fill out a personal biosecurity declaration when they arrive alongside the existing customs declaration. These forms will be provided upon arrival.

To find out more you can view Ascension Island’s biosecurity strategy and relevant biosecurity legislation.

To view biosecurity information for our sister Island of St Helena, visit their government website.

Don't risk it!


In order to import certain items to Ascension, importers will either be required to meet certain Import Health Standards (IHSs) or possibly apply for a licence. The table below summarises the IHSs that need to be followed by importers for all imports in these categories and also highlights where a licence to import is required.

If a licence is required, it must be applied for in advance.

For all other imports listed below, it is the importer’s responsibility to ensure that the IHSs are met and any necessary documentation is in place, but they do not need to contact Ascension Island Government in advance.

For other types of import which are not listed below, there are no additional requirements.

A full list of IHSs, guidance and licence application forms can be found in the Documentation section.

Type of Import


Fresh fruit and vegetables
For packages of most fruit and vegetables of less than 50kg the importer needs to make sure the product arrives clean of dirt/soil and pests, that they are labelled and declared either to the shipping company or to customs on arrival at Ascension. For imports of fruit and vegetables over 50kg, a certificate will be required from the country of origin to say that it has been inspected on departure and is free of pests.

Anyone importing more than ten boxes of stone fruits (plums, apricots, cherries) must make sure that they are treated to kill fruit flies.

For more unusual types of fresh produce, a licence will be required. To find out which fruit or vegetables need a licence refer to the Import Health Standard in the Documentation tab.

Live plant material
Commercially-packaged seeds and cut flowers that meet the requirements of the import health standard DO NOT require a licence to import. They must be clearly labelled, commercially prepared and packed in original unopened packaging, and in a pest-proof container. All other plant material including whole plants, bare rooted stock, bud wood, cuttings, bulbs, tissue culture and non-commercially packaged seeds need a licence to import. In addition to meeting the requirements of the import health standard, the conditions of a licence may require further measures tailored to reduce the specific risks the type of plant may boast.

Live animals
All live animals need a licence to import. This is likely to be granted for cats, dogs and freshwater fish as long as the licence conditions are met. Licences for any other animals are unlikely to be issued, and the import of primates and parrots is prohibited.

Compost and peat
Any compost and peat supplied in commercial plastic packaging must be in the original unopened bags and free of any pests. Any compost or peat supplied in loose bags requires a licence to import and must be treated to kill pests. Compost from South Africa carries the risk of spreading foot and mouth disease so all imports from this country need a certificate saying the compost comes from a disease free area.

All imports of soil and manure require a licence to import and strict conditions need to be met to allow the import of this high risk material.

Timber products DO NOT require a licence to import. All timber must be free of any signs of external pests, soil and mud contamination and any bark or leaves. All poles, piles, rounds and sleepers must be treated prior to shipment and proof of that treatment provided.

Vehicles, machinery and tyres
Vehicles, machinery and tyres DO NOT require a licence to import. All vehicles, machinery and tyres must be thoroughly cleaned before shipment and be free of all pests, leaves, seeds, mud and other debris. They must be dry with no standing water that could harbour insect larvae.

Sawdust, woodchip, bark, straw and hay
Sawdust, woodchip, bark and hay DO NOT require a licence to import. All sawdust, woodchip, bark, straw and hay must be free of pests, seeds and any other material such as animal faeces and soil. It should be packaged for shipment so that no pests can enter during transit and the packaging must be original and unopened.


Import Health Standard (IHS) Guidelines and Licence Application Forms

Import Health Standards (IHSs) are biosecurity requirements that certain higher risk items must meet before they can be imported. Guidelines have been developed to accompany the relevant IHS and should be used in junction with each of these. If the consignment you are importing needs a licence (this will be stated in the IHS) an application must be filled out and a licence granted before shipment takes place.

Composts and peat

Fresh produce

Plant material

Rock, stone, sand, and pebbles

Sawdust, wood chips, wood shavings, bark, straw, and hay

Shipping containers and wood packing material

Timber import guidelines

Vehicles, machinery, and tyres

Live animals
Guidelines / Licence Application

Live ornamental fish

Declaration Forms

The master of an incoming vessel or aircraft, who intends to land cargo or baggage, or to permit the disembarkation of passengers or crew members, requires biosecurity landing clearance in order to do so. These declarations are necessary to ensure compliance with protocols designed to reduce the biosecurity risk posed to Ascension by the arrival of a vessel or aircraft to an acceptable level.

Further reading

Frequently Asked Questions

We recognise that individuals will want to understand how the biosecurity system will affect them and as such answers to the most common questions we receive are below. If anyone has further questions or would like more detail, please call into the Conservation Office in Georgetown or contact us by telephone on 00 247 66359 or by email through

Only in exceptional circumstances. The primary aim is to control the threat posed by the item and then work with the importer to stop it from happening again. If somebody is sent a bag of muddy potatoes, the response will be to wash them and to ask the individual to get in touch with the person who sent them to make sure they clean them first next time. If that happens multiple times for the same person and they are clearly taking no action to try to follow the rules, then it may be necessary to take firmer action.

The response to finding something will depend on what it is and what cargo it is on. Treatment varies from spraying with insecticide to full fumigation. At all times authorities will be trying to make sure the threat is destroyed without damaging any goods, but this will not always be possible.

Some inspections need to be carried out to ensure that the rules are being followed, but not everything that comes in is inspected. Inspections are done in a similar way to customs inspections and often at the same time, by the same people, to make it more efficient.

The only licences which attract a charge are those to bring in cats, dogs and other animals. There is no cost for any other licences required.

Items of low risk, which is most goods, do not need any special action and individuals just need to follow the standards with no need for paperwork. However the highest risk imports, such as live animals and plants, will require a licence application.

Yes. They will just need to make sure they meet the standards that are on the website for certain types of goods and ensure that they declare these. For example, someone sending a package of clothes or frozen food would not need to follow any import health standard as these items are not controlled articles. However, if they were sending fresh produce (a controlled article) they would need to make sure it was clean of mud and pests, packaged and clearly labelled. If people are sending live plants or plant cuttings, they would need a licence in advance.

Yes. St Helena prohibits the import of honey because they want to protect their bee hives from diseases that can be spread through honey. Ascension has no beekeepers and no native bees so there aren’t any restrictions on importing honey.

Other than parrots or monkeys very few other imports which are prohibited completely. There are other things that can only be brought in with a licence, such as live animals for example, and whilst the import of cats, dogs and freshwater fish are permitted, it is unlikely the import of other animal species will be.

Yes. Fresh food is precious and we don’t want to stop anyone brining it in. There is a risk that animals like spiders, flies and ants will arrive with the fruit, but by taking sensible steps this risk can be reduced. If individuals are bringing in less than 50kg of common fruits and vegetables, all that is required is that it is clean of any dirt and mud, that it doesn’t have any pests on it, and that it is labelled and declared on the form when they arrive in the same way they would for alcohol and tobacco. For companies that will be bringing in more than 50kg, proof that they have treated the produce so that it is free of pests will be required.