Importing therapeutic substances, foods and dietary supplements

All therapeutic substances, foods and dietary supplements must be declared on arrival in Australia. Many of these products must be accompanied by an import permit. Further certification or endorsements may also be necessary and the import permit will outline these additional requirements. For specific details, please refer to the BICON database prior to import.

  • Foods derived from animals, micro-organisms or partly processed plant materials, such as dairy drinks and muscle-building drinks, are a biosecurity concern and can only be imported if they meet specific import conditions.
  • Oriental herbs and medicines may contain prohibited materials. These substances generally require an import permit.
  • In general, any synthetic substances - that is, completely man-made substances such as aspirin - are not a biosecurity concern. Sufficient documentation should be available to prove the synthetic nature of the material.
  • Commercially manufactured and packaged therapeutics are permitted entry without an import permit if they meet the following requirements:
    • The article is for human therapeutic use only.
    • The product is imported into Australia (whether personally or by post) by a person who intends to use it for their own personal use.
    • The product is commercially prepared and packaged (eg. capsules, tablets, vials for injection, liquid, powder*, ointment, etc.). This includes commercially packaged probiotics eg Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium spp.
    • The product is imported in a quantity to provide no more than three months supply.

Three months supply can be determined by:

  • the label dosage advice or
  • a letter in English from a medical practitioner, naturopath or alternative health provider or
  • a statutory declaration by the importer stating that the product is for personal use only and is less than three months supply.

* Consignments of products containing ganoderma, bee pollen or slippery elm bark must be in capsules, tablets, vials for injection, liquid or ointment form to be exempt from the requirement for an import permit. Products containing ganoderma powder, bee pollen powder or slippery elm bark powder must be accompanied by a valid import permit.

  • Commercially prepared vitamins, minerals and amino acids are permitted but must be declared on arrival. These goods may be inspected.

All of these goods must be declared and will be inspected by Australian biosecurity officers.
More information about importing therapeutic substances can be obtained from the Therapeutic Goods Administration. There are limits to the amount of foods and dietary supplements that can be imported for personal use. The Australian Border Force can supply information on banned substances.

Last reviewed: 28 September 2020
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