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What can and can’t be taken into Australia

There are tight restrictions on what can and can’t be taken into Australia, so it’s vital to check the rules and regulations before you start packing your bags – or that shipping container you’ve ordered. This section goes through some of the basic rules and provides handy links to more information about the process and to help you stay on the right side of the law.

Australian Customs Regulations and General Import Conditions

Arriving at the airport in Australia

There are very strict regulations about what can and can’t be taken into Australia. Most of these customs and quarantine regulations relate to food stuffs and plant and animal products, which risk bringing foreign pests and diseases into the country.

It might seem trivial but the customs and quarantine officers you meet at the airport will take these matters very seriously. You must fill in a declaration certificate with a checklist of banned items before you land in Australia (it will be provided on the plane) and your baggage may be searched at the airport. If you have failed to declare an item you could be fined or even prosecuted – not the nicest welcome to your new home.

It’s worth looking at the restrictions at the Australian Customs and Border Protection website, before you pack. For example, it’s essential to understand the different regulations governing the importation of things like:
  • Firearms
  • Drugs (including prescription medications)
  • Currency worth more than A$10,000
  • Heritage-listed items
  • Animals
The link also has contact details for the relevant Australian authorities if you have any questions about specific items. If you’re unsure, it is best to get in touch with them. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Shipping possessions to Australia

It is possible to ship your personal effects – such as furniture and other household items – to Australia from your home country, by either air or sea. You’ll need to contact your airline or a shipping company and enquire about shipping prices.

There’s a fair bit of paperwork involved so it might be worth using a customs broker or agent to ensure you don’t fall foul of the law.

The Australian Government has tight restrictions on what can and can’t be taken into Australia as cargo. Getting it wrong can mean you’ll face a fine, prosecution, or be hit with an expensive bill if the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) deems they’ll need to fumigate some of your items to ensure you’re not introducing exotic pests and diseases. This often happens with items of furniture, for instance, because they contain insects like European wood borer.

A terrific resource is the AQIS database where you can simply type in the name of an item to see if there are any restrictions on its importation. It also has great tips and general advice including how to clean your personal effects, the rules about numbering boxes and providing exacting lists to Australian Customs, and any taxes or duties you might need to pay.

Visit our Life in Australia section for more articles related to the subject Moving to Australia.
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