Whether travelling to Australia for the first time or frequently visiting the Land Down Under, you must know, understand, and comply with Australian customs and biosecurity.
All arriving passengers must fill in the individual Incoming Passenger Card handed by the cabin crew before their plane lands, or they can get one near the customs and border patrol area.
Once you have completed the passenger arrival processing, your next stop is customs declaration. This is where a Border Force officer will collect your filled-up Incoming Passenger Card and then conduct a short interview, explicitly asking about the things you brought to Australia. You must be honest in declaring the items, as failure to do so may cause you to incur some penalties.
There are also detector dogs and x-ray machines, should the authorities deem the need to search your belongings.
So what items can you confidently bring to Australia?
- Pastries, biscuits and pastries, Christmas cake, and pudding—except for cheesecake—for personal consumption. These pasties should be fully cooked, have no meat, and be shelf-stable, meaning refrigeration is unnecessary.
- Commercially prepared chocolate and confectionery, including licorice, marshmallow, and toffee. All these should be free of meat.
- Miscellaneous and commercially manufactured cosmetic products for personal use not exceeding 10 kilograms or 10 litres.
- There is no limit on the amount of cash you bring in and out of the country, but if the money you have exceeds AUD 10,000 in Australian currency or its equivalent, you need to declare it.
- The country does not prohibit golden syrup, maple syrup, and treacle.
- You may carry vegetable and seed oils into the country so long as the goods do not contain any contaminants that can include but are not limited to seed debris, plant or animal debris, and soil.
- Personal items like footwear, clothing, and articles for hygiene and grooming, except fur and perfume concentrates.
- Roasted coffee, except for Kopi Luwak or Civet coffee, is also typically allowed for personal use. If you are planning to bring green coffee, secure its phytosanitary certificate.
- Cheesy mite, Marmite, Vegemite, peanut butter, and Nutella are allowed.
- Fruit and vegetable juices and soft drinks are also allowed, as long as they are in hermetically sealed containers.
- Butter, cheese, and other dairy products are usually allowed, especially if it was commercially prepared and packaged and came from an approved FMD-free country. It should also be for the sole purpose of human consumption and not exceed 10 kilograms or 10 litres.
The best thing you can do is declare anything you’re not sure is safe to bring. Items like the ones listed below are best declared. Although they will be inspected and possibly destroyed or exported, at least you comply with the customs regulations.
- All kinds of alcohol
- Dried herbs, including the leaves, roots, spices, and crushed nutshells, are again usually allowed so long as they are finely chopped and don’t exceed 1 kilogram.
- Nuts and food containing any nut should also be declared and are usually inspected upon arrival.
- Medicines, including natural and manufactured human growth hormones, controlled prescription medicines, sedatives or prescription medicines from the benzodiazepines group, and anabolic and androgenic substances or steroids, must be declared.
Weapons, firearms, concealed blades, fireworks, food from the plane or ship, fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade foods, soil, mud or clay, and live plants are some examples of things better left at home.
You must declare your items and have them cleared after assessment because not doing so and being found non-compliant can cause you to get penalized up to AUD 2,664 or ~$1,728.
This may also subject you to a civil penalty proceeding or prosecution for a criminal offence. This could lead to imprisonment or a maximum penalty of AUD 1.1 million and having your visa cancelled. You may even be refused entry to Australia.
It pays to thoroughly check the items and review the Australian Border Force information page beforehand, so you won’t experience any inconveniences upon arriving in Australia.