Australian Customs: What can you bring into Australia?

Australia is famous for being strict on what you bring into the country. Early settlers once imported rabbits, which unsettled the local fauna and flora. Authorities are very wary of the risks of new products.

As Danny and I slowly prepare our 2020 Australia – New Caledonia – Vanuatu – Fiji cruise with Princess Cruises, it is a good thing to look at what you can bring into Australia.


Declare it

An online brochure provides more information. “You will be given an Incoming Passenger Card before you arrive in Australia. You must comply with the requirement to provide this information. Giving false or misleading information is a serious offence.”

“You must mark YES on your card if you are carrying goods that may pose a biosecurity risk. These goods include plant material, animal products and certain food.”

“A Department of Agriculture and Water Resources biosecurity officer may inspect declared goods during your border clearance. A biosecurity officer may inspect your baggage, even if you do not declare any goods. They may use X-ray or a detector dog. You must declare or dispose of any goods with a biosecurity risk before inspection.”

Not complying can result in penalties and prosecution. And it will ruin your trip. So declare what you bring in.

The web page of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources gives examples of what you should declare:

  • Fresh food such as fruits and vegetables;
  • Baked, cooked, packaged food;
  • Rice and noodles;
  • Plants and seeds;
  • Live animals;
  • Snacks;
  • Herbs and seeds;

What happens to goods you declare?

Goods will be inspected by a biosecurity officer who will determine the level of biosecurity risk associated with the goods. “You may be required to provide information or documents to enable the biosecurity officer to determine the risk. In many cases goods you declare will be of low risk and the biosecurity officer will return them to you after inspection. However, any goods that may present an unacceptable level of biosecurity risk will be managed in accordance with the Biosecurity Act 2015.”

This means your goods can be treated to be imported, at your expense. You can be forced to export them, also at your expense. Or you can destroy them.

Have you been to Australia? What are your experiences with customs in Australia?

Bottom line is: declare what you bring. Also: clean your (hiking) shoes.

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