Military frequently asked questions

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What happens when I arrive in Australia?

On arrival in Australia you must present an Incoming Passenger Card. In it you must declare all items of interest to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and the Department of Home Affairs, such as food, items with seeds, medicines, and alcohol.

What if I am feeling sick or show signs of illness when I land?

Biosecurity officers monitor reports about the health status of passengers arriving in Australia by aircraft and ship to ensure that they are not suffering from diseases such as yellow fever, viral haemorrhagic fever or cholera.

The Travel Health Information section on the Department of Heath's website has general advice for travellers, including what to do if they fall ill after arriving back in Australia.

Items commonly brought to Australia

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Chewing tobacco and cigarettes

The department conducts biosecurity inspections of international passengers, cargo, mail, animals and plants or their products into Australia, and inspection and certification for animal and plant products exported from Australia.

The Department of Home Affairs regulates imports on items such as currency, alcohol, cigarettes, and medicines. Please consult the Department of Home Affairs website for information.

Ration packs/Meals ready to Eat (MRE's)

An import permit must be applied for prior to bringing ration packs/MREs to Australia. The department will assess the application and may decide to grant a permit subject to conditions necessary for safe importation, use, and disposal of the product. It should be noted that applying for a permit does not automatically result in a permit being issued. For further information about applying for an import permit for ration packs/MREs, please contact Imports or phone 1800 900 090.

Beef jerky/biltong

Canned/tinned food


Nuts/popcorn/trail mix/gorp and snacks

Different requirements exist for bringing nuts, trail mix and gorp into Australia. Please consult the Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON) and type the species of nut (for example cashews) and their country of origin into the search page of BICON which will show the requirements for bringing these items into Australia. Unpopped popcorn (for example microwave popcorn) is not permitted entry into Australia and must be destroyed or exported at the importer's expense

Water and water bottles

Commercially bottled water, mineral water, spring water, cordials, perfumed or scented waters (such as rose water or orange flower water), excluding Holy Water, may be brought into Australia, provided the water is free from solid material or contaminants.

Cakes, bread and biscuits

Dairy products and cheese

Can I bring food in from my ship anchored offshore?

When bringing items into Australia, whether from a ship offshore or an international aircraft, they must meet import conditions. Please consult BICON. On the BICON search page, type in the item and the country of origin of the item (for example ‘cashews’ from ‘United States’), where the results will detail the requirements for bringing that item into Australia. Any items that do not meet the import conditions must be treated, destroyed, or exported, at the importer’s expense.

What if my clothing/boots/webbing/backpack is dirty?

All personal military equipment must be clean before departure for Australia. On arrival all personal military equipment will be inspected, including tents and sleeping bags. Depending on the amount of dirt/contamination, the passenger may be required to clean the items or they will be re-exported at the passenger’s expense.

Can I bri​ng in prescription medicines/drugs?

Most prescription medicines are not a biosecurity risk if they are intended for human use. However they must be commercially prepared and packaged (for example capsules, tablets, vials for injection, liquid, powder and ointment) with a letter from a doctor or prescription notice. Up to three months’ supply can be imported. For a more detailed explanation consult BICON, by typing 'drugs' or ‘medicines’ into the 'Commodity name' field.

The Department of Home Affairs also has requirements for bringing medicines to Australia, which are available on their website.

Mailing items to Australia

Parcels sent to Australia are checked by the department at the international mail centres. Check the Passenger and Mail Inquiry form for information on importing food, plant or animal products or BICON.

If in doubt about any item/product, declare it to a biosecurity officer.

For more information about bringing items to Australia, please email Imports or phone 1800 900 090.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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