expat network

Beware What You Take With You To Australia

Australia has a rigorous approach to protecting its agriculture and tourism industries from pests and diseases brought from abroad.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources manage the arrangements and you can see full details on arrangements on arrival in Australia on the website.

All those entering the country are given an Incoming Passenger Card before arrival in Australia and are required to complete this form. Giving false or misleading information is a serious offence and it is important to confirm if you are carrying goods that may pose a biosecurity risk.

These goods include plant material, animal products and certain foods. Declared goods may be inspected by a biosecurity officer and even if no goods are declared, baggage may be searched to confirm.

The biosecurity officers make use of X-rays and detector dogs. Before inspection any goods with a potential biosecurity risk must be declared. If a false declaration is made on the Incoming Passenger Card the passenger may be subject to civil penalties or prosecution with heavy fines and imprisonment for up to ten years.

You can apply for an import permit for any goods prior to your arrival in Australia. Import permits may be issued, but these may be subject to conditions and on arrival they will be assessed to ensure that they comply with these conditions.

If all goods are declared, even if they are not allowed into Australia, there will be no penalty.

What happens to goods you declare?

A biosecurity officer will determine the level of biosecurity risk associated with the goods.  Information or documents may be required to enable them to determine the level of risk. In many cases declared goods will be of low risk and will be returned to you after inspection. However, any goods that potentially present an unacceptable level risk will be managed in accordance with the Biosecurity Act 2015.

The options will depend on the risk assessed, you may:

  • Pay for the goods to be treated to reduce the biosecurity risk (for example fumigation, gamma irradiation).
  • Destroy the goods or pay to have the goods exported.

Fees and special conditions may apply and although every effort will be made to minimise the risk of damage caused by any treatment, no liability is accepted for any damage that may be incurred during treatment or export.

Examples of goods that must be declared include:

  • Food, including airline food and snacks, dairy and egg products, meat, poultry and seafood products, seed and nuts
  • Plant material, including live plants, dried plant material and seeds
  • Used camping, sporting, boating and fishing equipment.

A fuller list of examples can be seen here: https://bicon.agriculture.gov.au/BiconWeb4.0