Getting out to see the world is a fantastic opportunity to explore and learn more about other cultures. However, it is important for the government to screen for pests, diseases and weeds which may have travelled with you.
To help protect our agricultural industries, unique environment and the health of all Australians, the Department of Agriculture screens incoming air and sea passengers, baggage, mail and cargo using X-ray machines. We also use detector dogs, physical inspection and interviews to protect Australia from biosecurity risks.
Unsure? Just declare it
You must declare certain food, plant material (including wooden articles) and animal products on your Incoming Passenger Card. Anything you declare will be assessed by a biosecurity officer, who will determine the risk associated with the goods and whether an inspection is required.
If you are unsure, just declare it.
Depending on the risk, you may be required to:
- pay for the goods to be treated (for example, fumigation or gamma irradiation)
- pay to export the goods from Australia
- give up your goods for destruction.
You will not face a penalty if you declare all goods, even if they are not allowed into Australia.
Be alert, look for dirt
While abroad, many travellers participate in recreational activities such as hiking, fishing and camping. The equipment used during these adventures, such as fishing rods and hiking boots, can collect soil, plant material and water.
Before returning to Australia, make sure this equipment and clothing is thoroughly cleaned and dried. You must still declare these items to a biosecurity officer for inspection when you arrive in Australia. One way to avoid treatment costs and delays is to simply hire equipment when overseas.
Equipment and clothing that may pose a risk include:
- shoes, boots and clothing, especially if it is holding soil, plant material or water
- camping equipment, including backpacks
- mountain bikes and other sporting equipment that has been used in rural areas, markets and zoos or near susceptible animals, and have soil or manure attached
- all wooden articles
- fishing equipment, including rods, reels, bags, rope, nets, knee guards, gaiters and waders
- recreational and water sport equipment, including wetsuits, neoprene socks, waterskiing and wakeboarding equipment, buoyancy vests, watercraft, paddles, spray decks, spray skirts, soft foam handles, hiking gear and swimwear or other clothing or equipment that has come into contact with water such as from rivers, lakes, ponds and swamps.
If you are unsure, just declare it on your Incoming Passenger Card.
Collect memories, not souvenirs
There are certain foods, plant material (including wooden articles) and animal products that you can bring back from your travels. However, there are also many items that are not permitted due to the risk of them containing pests and diseases.
Rather than risking treatment fees or destruction of certain souvenirs, consider taking a photo and use the money you have saved to experience the local cuisine and culture.
Knowing what food you can bring
It can be tempting to bring food with you when you visit or return to Australia, but the risk of foods containing pests and diseases is great. All imported food must meet biosecurity requirements to be allowed into the country. Restrictions apply to many raw foods and certain processed foods (even if they are commercially packaged). The following items are restricted:
- eggs and egg products
- dairy products
- uncanned meat
- seeds and nuts
- fresh fruit and vegetables
- honey and bee products