Customs & Excise

If in doubt declare it

Darwin, NT.  Photo credit: Tourism NT


Customs & Excise

All countries place restrictions on items you can bring with you. Australia is particularly vigilant in ensuring that food, plant and biological items are not brought into the country.

The obvious ones

Marijuana, cannabis, heroin, cocaine and amphetamines are classed as illegal drugs and must not be carried in or out of Australia

It’s also illegal to carry counterfeit goods, offensive pornography and firearms.

The less obvious ones

  • Declare currency over the value of AUD10,000.
  • If you need to take more than 3 months’ supply of medicine, declare it and make sure you bring a note of explanation from your doctor.
  • Souvenirs made from natural substances from outside the country are often refused entry. So is fruit.
  • You’ll find numerous bins to dispose of food items. Sniffer dogs patrol the lines of incoming passengers so don’t risk that smuggled banana. Bin it.
  • Customs will stop you if you’ve travelled to a farm prior to entry. Any muddy or wet footwear/camping gear will be disinfected to prevent the spread of disease.


Ignorance is no defence

Saying “I didn’t know” won’t prevent a hefty on the spot fine (or worse). Only carry what you know you can be accountable for. Don’t offer to carry anything for anyone else because you’ll be responsible for any problems with it.

If in doubt, declare it.

Take the cane toad...

Why is Australia so jumpy about letting anything ‘alien’ in?

Take the cane toad as an example. In 1935 around 100 toads were introduced to the tip of north-east Australia as an experiment. Sugar farmers believed they would feed on the cane beetle, helping protect crops.

The toads bred rapidly – and they migrated. Today, they’ve destroyed local wildlife, invaded almost the whole of Queensland (and beyond) and number around 2 billion.

And they didn’t even like the taste of cane beetles.

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