• 2022.09.12
  • Crossing the border into Down Under
Anybody who has ever visited Australia or who has ever watched an episode of a border patrol show on TV will know that the Australian customs officers are among the strictest in the world and that is because they need to follow the Australian border law that is very rigorous.
If you are thinking about visiting Australia, you should know that the customs patrol is very strict for real and not only for what concerns illegal goods.
In fact, the rules and conditions for the importation of goods and personal effects are quite complex and characterized by meticulous inspections.
This, contrary to popular belief, is mainly due to the safeguarding of an ecosystem, such as the Australian one, which is unique and very delicate.
So, what is prohibited?
- Basically, all food products (except dry ones like biscuits or crackers) and fresh drinks.
Only packaged and sealed dry goods are allowed, and they must be of industrial origin, not homemade products.
Wine can be imported in minimal quantities, unless you are in possession of a regular import license and, more generically, importing alcohol is very much limited and regulated.
- It is illegal, although a bit hard to check even for the most rigorous officers, to bring into the country dirt or soil and therefore you could be asked to check the soles of your shoes or you may be questioned about your recent visit to a farm abroad.
- It is obviously illegal to bring into the country drugs of all kinds, counterfeit products and weapons without a special license but that it is true for most or all countries around the world I believe.
- Australians pay particular attention to untreated wood whether it’s part of a large piece of furniture or it’s a small accessory of a souvenir perhaps.
Any kind of untreated wood, leaves or vegetation is forbidden because it could be a threat to the Australian species, both fauna and flora.
If you take a flight to Australia and if you do not throw away before going through custom check or declare prohibited articles by Australian customs you risk a fine or, in some extreme cases, you could be sued and risk jail time.
We can all be wrong, so don't worry, if you have declared any kind of object and for an oversight you have brought some other prohibited items in Australia you will not incur any sanctions if you show good faith.
At this point, you will be given some choices.
The simplest is to have goods that cannot be imported destroyed for free.
Otherwise, you could have the items held at the airport until you leave.
In some cases, you can apply for special permits, pay taxes, and have the objects reclaimed.
Since Australians do not want to contaminate their environment, they will disinfect all those objects that can contain potentially threatening germs and microbes before releasing them.
It happened to me when I travelled to Bali and returned with some wooden puppets.
They treated the wood with some special product and returned it to me free of charge.
When it comes to medicine, drugs that require a medical prescription can be brought in with a supply of no more than three months together with their medical prescription from your doctor translated in English.
Before embarking on a plane bound for Australia, you will be required to fill out an Australia Incoming Card, which is used to collect your personal details, information on what you are going to do during your stay and what you are importing into the country.
Once you have landed in Australia, you will need to go through the Immigration Clearance, the agent will need to check the passenger's passport and card and after that you can collect your bags.
Then it is when an inspection is usually done for personal effects and luggage.


  • Alberto Ferrando
  • Jobcivil engineer

Hello everyone! I’m originally from Italy and I moved to Sydney, Australia, in 2012 after getting a job as a civil engineer. I love walking my dog along the beach, surfing and taking photos. I used to have a travel blog because I’m passionate about traveling and I love writing about it too. Sydney is my home base now and I wish to share how amazing it is to live here. I love to spend time outdoors and I’m always well informed about local events because my girlfriend works in event management.

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