Advice to travellers

​​​​​​​On arrival your baggage may be screened by x-ray, detector dog or inspected by a Department of Agriculture and Water Resources​ officer. If you fail to declare or dispose of any biosecurity risk items, or make a false declaration:

  • you could be fined $360 on-the-spot or 
  • you could be prosecuted, fined more than $66 000 and risk 10 years jail and a criminal record.

You will not be penalised if all items are declared, even if they are not allowed into Australia.

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Birds and bird products (bird flu and exotic avian diseases)

What is the risk?

Birds, poultry meat and poultry products can carry serious diseases, including bird flu (avian influenza), exotic strains of Newcastle disease and infectious bursal disease.

Bird flu (or avian influenza) is a highly contagious disease of poultry. It is caused by a virus, some strains are highly lethal.

Newcastle disease is one of the most serious of all infectious bird diseases. It is a devastating virus that can spread rapidly.

Infectious bursal disease (IBD) is a highly contagious viral disease of domestic​ fowl. The virus can remain infective in the environment for long periods and is resistant to many disinfectants.

Why is it is a problem for Australia?

Newcastle disease has the potential to kill thousands of bird species, and severely damage Australia’s egg, chicken, bird meat and aviary industries.

Harmful strains of bird flu affecting parts of Asia in recent years could devastate the Australian poultry industry and harm native bird populations.

Highly virulent IBD is a serious threat to production in commercial poultry flocks.

Items that present a risk

When returning to Australia from overseas, you MUST declare for inspection:

  • any poultry meat and products (including raw or cooked chicken and duck)
  • fresh or preserved eggs or egg products (including all whole, dried and powdered eggs)
  • mooncakes containing egg, and egg products such as mayonnaise
  • egg products including noodles and pasta that are not commercially manufactured)
  • feathers and items containing feathers, bird nests, stuffed birds, bird cages, poultry vaccines, and
  • any other animal products, plant material and certain food.

Treatment

Poultry meat and products are not allowed into Australia and will be seized and destroyed.

Other items will be inspected, and may be returned to you, sent for treatment at your expense or seized and destroyed. Check that you can bring the item back before travelling, refer to the Biosecurity Import Conditions (BICON)​ system.

Measures

  • When returning to Australia from overseas, don’t bring poultry meat and products. If you do, you MUST declare for inspection.

For more information:

The department's website contains up-to-date information questions and answers​ about avian influenza as well as information for international travellers, including the brochure 'Arriving in Australia - Declare it!'.

The Department of Health website provides further information on bird flu including latest news and an information hotline.

Fishing and water sports (risk of Didymo)

What is it?

Didymo (Didymosphenia geminata) is a cool, freshwater algae that forms thick mats which smother river beds.

It can have a significant environmental impact and limit the use of the waterways for recreational activities.

Equipment used in fresh water, such as fishing lines, canoes, and waders pose a serious risk of carrying the ‘Didymo’ algae.

Why is it is a problem for Australia?

Didymo is almost impossible to eradicate and takes just a single live cell to establish and spread.

While not present in Australia, it has invaded rivers and lakes in Europe, Asia, North America and New Zealand.

Didymo is made up of cells that cannot be seen with the naked eye until a large colony is formed. Special care is therefore required when bringing equipment into Australia that has been used in fresh water overseas.

Items that present a risk

Didymo can survive in damp conditions and is often carried on items such as:

  • fishing equipment – rods, reels, bags, rope, nets, knee guards, gaiters and waders
  • recreational and water sport equipment – wetsuits, neoprene socks, waterskiing and wakeboarding equipment, buoyancy vests, watercraft, paddles, spray decks, spray skirts, soft foam handles, hiking gear and swimwear.

Items that may need treatment

All items exposed to overseas freshwater rivers, lakes and streams must be thoroughly cleaned to remove any algal clumps, and be completely dried for inspection in Australia.

Articles and equipment not complying with these requirements or those articles that cannot be inspected to verify that they are clean and completely dry will be required to undergo mandatory treatment.

Options for Didymo treatment are limited and an external commercial treatment provider may be required. Commercial treatment is at your expense and may take several weeks.

Where treatment is not possible, goods may be destroyed or exported at your expense.

Measures

If you bring any items exposed to overseas freshwater rivers, lakes and streams into Australia ensure they are thoroughly cleaned and dry, and free of reservoirs of water.

Declare it and present all freshwater equipment to a Department of Agriculture and Water Resources officer for inspection when you arrive in Australia.

Top Tip: Hire equipment when overseas to avoid treatment costs a​​nd delays.

Soil and manure (risk of foot and mouth disease)

What is the risk?

Foot and mouth disease is a highly contagious viral disease of animals and is one of the most serious livestock diseases. It affects cloven-footed animals, such as cows and sheep.

Why is it is a problem for Australia?

An outbreak of Foot and mouth disease could devastate Australia’s livestock industries, affect the economy and threaten jobs.

Should an outbreak occur in Australia, it has been estimated to cost the Australian economy $50 billion over 10 years.

An incursion of this disease would lead to a loss in production of meat and milk, cessation of trade and require the slaughter of many animals in order to control the disease.

Items that present a risk

Items that present a risk include:

  • Shoes and boots, clothing
  • camping equipment, backpacks
  • mountain bikes and other sporting equipment that have been used in rural areas, markets and zoos or near susceptible animals, and have soil or manure attached.

Items that may need treatment

You should clean your equipment thoroughly before you travel to Australia.

If you bring items into Australia that have soil or manure attached, they may require treatment.

In many cases, items you declare will be returned to you after inspection.

Where treatment is not possible, goods may be destroyed or exported at your expense.

Measures

  • If you bring these types of items listed above into Australia ensure they are thoroughly cleaned and are free from soil and manure.
  • You must declare on your Incoming Passenger Card if you have visited a rural area or been in contact with, or near, farm animals in the past 30 days.
  • Declare it and present anything that presents a possible foot and mouth disease risk to a Department of Agriculture and Water Resources officer for inspection on arrival in Australia.

Wooden articles (risk of timber borers, insect pests, bark and pathogens)

What is the risk?

The biosecurity risks associated with the importation of timber and wooden items include:

  • infestation with insects or snails
  • contamination with soil, bark, plant material, animal residues and/or seeds, or
  • disease pathogens

Some of the more damaging pests that threaten our biosecurity include Asian Longhorn Beetle, Burnt Pine Longicorn Beetle, Japanese Pine Sawyer Beetle, Asian Gypsy Moth, termites, auger beetle, powder post beetles and wood wasps.

Bark presents a risk in that it may carry disease spores and/or mask the presence of insects.

Why is it is a problem for Australia?

If these pests and diseases establish in Australia they could have a devastating impact on our agriculture and forestry industries, natural environment, food security and economy.

Items that present a risk

When returning to Australia from overseas, you MUST declare all wooden articles including antiques, toys, instruments, statues, carvings, picture frames and wooden artefacts on your incoming passenger card.

All timber and wooden related articles must be inspected by a department officer before being permitted into Australia.

Items that may need treatment

If biosecurity concerns are found during the inspection, a department officer may give you the option of treating the product (at your cost) following which they will be returned to you. Articles that cannot be treated will be seized and destroyed.

Measures

  • Ensure all wooden articles that you are importing are clean, free of bark, timber insects, soil or other contaminants.
  • Look closely for holes and sawdust as this may mean that your wooden article contains insect pests.
  • Declare it and present all wooden articles to a Department of Agriculture and Water Resources officer for inspection when you arrive in Australia.
Last reviewed:
15 Mar 2016