Passengers using SmartGate © Australian Border Force

Passengers using SmartGate © Australian Border Force

Australian Customs and Biosecurity FAQs

Travelling to Australia

Before coming to Australia, you should have a valid passport and if required, a valid tourist visa. It is strongly advised that you have adequate health insurance, which is a mandatory requirement for some visas. You must also ensure you have enough money to support yourself for the duration of your visit, so research the costs associated with accommodation, transport, food and essential items, tours and activities.

All passengers (with the exception of Australian and New Zealand citizens) coming into Australia (by air or sea) will be required to present the following documents upon arrival:

  • A valid passport or other accepted travel document
  • A valid visa or authority to enter Australia (this may be electronic)
  • A completed Incoming Passenger Card (this will be provided by your cabin crew)

Be sure to keep your documents at hand as you pass through immigration and customs, as you will be required to produce them for both immigration officers and biosecurity officers.

All arriving passengers are required to complete an Incoming Passenger Card which will be given to you by your cabin crew before landing. Alternatively, they can be found near the customs and border patrol area and are available in different languages. If you have an eligible ePassport, you can use SmartGate for faster processing.

Customs and biosecurity

Once you have completed passenger arrival processing, proceed to customs declarations. A Border Force officer will collect your Incoming Passenger Card and may ask you questions about what you have brought with you. It is imperative that you truthfully declare the items you are bringing into Australia as failure to do so may result in penalties. There may be detector dogs present and you may be required to place your luggage through an X-ray machine and have your belongings searched.

Australia's customs laws prevent you from bringing drugs, steroids, weapons, firearms and protected wildlife into Australia. Penalties may apply, so before travelling, check the Australian Government website for information on prohibited goods, item declaration and penalties.

Declaring your goods

When entering Australia from overseas, you must declare if you are carrying any of the items in this list:

  • Prohibited or restricted goods including medicines, steroids, illegal pornography, firearms weapons or illicit drugs.
  • Goods purchased overseas or duty/tax free in Australia with a combined total price of more than AUD $900 per adult (18 years or over); AUD $450 per child. This includes items purchased as gifts.
  • Alcohol: Up to 2.25 litres (0.5 imperial gallons or 0.59 US gallons) of alcoholic beverages (liquor, wine and Champagne) per adult.
  • Tobacco: 25 cigarettes or the equivalent of 25 grams (0.88 ounces) of smokeless tobacco products per adult.
  • Goods or product samples for business or commercial use.
  • AUD$10,000 or more in Australian or foreign currency equivalent.
  • Meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy, fruit, vegetables.
  • Plants or parts of plants, including grains, seeds, nuts, bulbs, straw, wood, and traditional herbs or medicines.
  • Animals, or animal products including pet food, specimens, birds, fish, insects, shells, and bee products.
  • Soil, items with soil attached or used in freshwater areas e.g. sports/recreational equipment, shoes.

You must declare or dispose of any prohibited or restricted goods before you reach customs. Even if you do not declare any goods, your baggage is subject to inspection by a biosecurity officer. X-ray machines and detector dogs may be used. If you fail to declare or make a misleading or false declaration, your items may be seized and you may be subject to penalties such as fines or even imprisonment for criminal offences. You will not be penalised if you declare all your goods, even if they are not permitted in Australia.

Goods that you declare will be inspected by a biosecurity officer, who will assess the level of risk associated with the goods. In most cases, goods are low risk and will be returned to you after the inspection. However, if a biosecurity officer deems the goods to have some risk you can pay for the goods to be treated, pay to export the goods, or voluntarily dispose of the goods.

The same biosecurity laws, and customs and security processing requirements apply when arriving by cruise ship as they do when arriving by plane. You will be given a Customs Declaration Form to complete which Customs and Immigration officers will review upon disembarkation. You will also undergo security screening and passport processing. If you have purchased goods on board, be sure you are not over the allowance limit for items such as alcohol and tobacco and keep all receipts as proof.

Strict biosecurity laws apply when travelling to different parts of Australia, with restrictions on what you can and can’t bring. This includes interstate travel and travel to Australia’s external territories. Plant and food items such as fruit, vegetables and honey are not permitted, but there are also other items that are not allowed between certain state borders so it’s highly advised to check any restrictions before you travel. If you are carrying any restricted items, there are disposal bins located at airports and cruise terminals.

Assistance and accessibility

Australia’s airports and cruise ports provide services for people with disabilities which assist with getting on and off the plane or ship, getting around the terminal, customs processing and baggage handling. Some airports also offer a shuttle system, moving walkways, and curbside baggage check-in to make things easier for less-abled travellers. People with disabilities and any assistive device must go through the same security screening and customs processing as everyone else. Special assistance is also available for people with vision, hearing and other sensory impairments and is best arranged through your airline. For more information visit the People With Disability Australia and Tourism Australia’s Accessible Tourism websites.

For information on foreign embassies and consulates in Australia visit the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.