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To help protect Australia's agricultural industries and unique environment, Department of Agriculture officers screen incoming air and sea passengers, baggage, mail and cargo using x-ray machines, detector dogs, physical inspection, questioning and profiling.

If you are entering Australia to holiday, study or live permanently, or if you are an Australia resident planning an overseas trip it is a good idea to know what can't be brought into Australia.

You must declare certain  food, plant material including wooden articles and animal products when you arrive in Australia. You make this declaration on your Incoming Passenger Card, which is handed to you by the airline before you land. You must complete this card truthfully – it is a legal document.

Declared items are inspected to ensure they are not carrying any pests or diseases. If biosecurity concerns or pest and diseases are found, products may require treatment (at your cost) such as fumigation or gamma irradiation to make them safe. Items that cannot be treated will be seized and destroyed.

If you have items you don't wish to declare, you can dispose of them in bins in the terminal. 

If you fail to declare or dispose of any biosecurity risk items, or make a false declaration:

  • you could be fined $340 on-the-spot, or
  • you could be prosecuted and fined more than $66,000 and risk 10 years jail.

You will not be penalised if all items are declared, even if they are not allowed into Australia. If you are not sure, ask a Department of Agriculture officer.

Last reviewed:
16 Apr 2014