The ease of shopping from the comfort of your home – and the convenience of being able to shop internationally – is one of the reasons online shopping is popular in Australia and around the globe.
However, similar to when you purchase items when travelling overseas, goods that you buy online are also subject to Australia’s biosecurity laws. These laws are in place to protect our environment, agricultural industries and economy from harmful pests and diseases prevalent in other parts of the world.
There are a number of ways you can ensure your online shopping is safe and does not pose a risk to Australia.
Understanding what happens if you do not comply
When your goods arrive at the Australian border they will be assessed as to whether they can be imported. This assessment includes the use of detector dogs and X–ray machines at international mail centres around Australia.
If our biosecurity officers find that your goods may introduce a pest or disease into Australia, they immediately direct your goods for export to reduce risk.
This may incur a fee that you will be billed for. If any attempt has been made to conceal the goods, for example, requesting the supplier to pack goods in a manner designed to hide or make them difficult to identify, you may be subject to an investigation and possible criminal prosecution.
Knowing what food you can buy
It can be tempting to buy exotic food online, however 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 brought through the airport or mailed to Australia for private use. The following items are restricted:
- eggs and egg products
- dairy products
- uncanned meat
- seeds and nuts
- fresh fruit and vegetables.
Rather than running the risk, visit your local markets or international grocer to find the same or similar products.
Alternatively, you can find out more on our website.
Knowing what plants you can buy
If you’re purchasing goods online for your garden, especially seeds or unusual plants, you need to check whether they can be brought into Australia legally.
Imported plants and seeds can introduce exotic plant pests and diseases that could be harmful to Australia’s environment, agriculture and economy. To protect against this risk, the department sets conditions for the safe import of plants and seeds to Australia. Some plants and seeds may only be imported under an import permit granted by the department.
Before you place your order, check what you can and cannot bring in to Australia. You can use the department’s Biosecurity Import Conditions database (BICON) to search for information on particular goods and the conditions under which they can be imported. Alternatively, if you are unable to locate the required information on BICON you can submit an online Passenger and Mail Import Enquiry form.