Documents required for Customs clearance
If you are departing, have the following ready for Customs clearance:
- outgoing passenger card
- boarding pass
Items you must declare on departure
Prohibited and restricted items
It is illegal to carry drugs including marijuana, cannabis, heroin, cocaine and amphetamines in and out of Australia.
Counterfeit goods and offensive types of pornography are also banned.
Other items may be restricted. You will need a permit to carry these items in and out of Australia.
See the following table for a summary on what you can and can't carry and what you need to declare on your Incoming and Outgoing Passenger Cards. There are penalties for not declaring illegal and restricted items and for making false declarations on your Incoming or Outgoing Passenger Card.
Contact Australian Customs or the consulate or embassy of the countries you're visiting before you travel, for more advice about importing or exporting illegal and restricted items.
What do I have to declare?
Firearms, weapons and ammunition
You must declare all firearms, weapons and ammunition including real and replica firearms and BB air guns that discharge a pellet by means of compressed gas, commonly purchased as "toy" guns. Other weapons such as paintball markers, blowpipes, all knives, nunchukas, slingshots, crossbows, electric shock devices and knuckle dusters must also be declared. Some of these items may require a permit, police authorisation and safety testing before importation.
Performance and image enhancing drugs
All performance and image enhancing drugs must be declared on arrival. These include human growth hormone, DHEA and all anabolic and androgenic steroids. These items cannot be imported into Australia without a permit.
There is no limit to the amount of currency you can bring in or out of Australia. However, you must declare amounts of A$10,000 or more in Australian currency or foreign equivalent. If asked by Customs you must also fill in a Bearer Negotiable Instruments (BNI) form if you're carrying promissory notes, travellers cheques, personal cheques, money orders or postal orders.
Food, plants, animals and biological goods
Declare all food, plant and animal goods, equipment used with animals, biological materials, soils and sand to Quarantine on arrival. If you don't, you could be given an on-the-spot fine or face prosecution.
You need to declare all drugs and medicines including prescription medications, alternative, herbal and traditional medicines, vitamin and mineral preparation formulas to Customs. Some products require a permit or quarantine clearance and/or a letter or prescription from your doctor describing your medication and medical condition.
Prescription medicines are financially subsidised by the Australian Government under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). You can only take out of Australia the amount of medication you need. Carry a medical or dental practitioner's letter or complete a PBS Medicine Export Declaration available from Medicare Australia.
Australia's strict laws control the import and export of protected wildlife and associated products. This includes traditional medicinal products and regulated products such as coral, orchids, caviar, ivory products and many hunting trophies.
You need to apply for a permit to import or export heritage-listed goods including works of art, stamps, coins, archaeological objects, minerals and specimens.
Declare all veterinary drugs and medicines. This includes products that contain substances prohibited without a permit.
Defence and strategic goods
Permits are required to import or export defence and strategic goods. For more information on which goods fit into this category, refer to Customs Export controls for defence and strategic goods factsheet.
Declaring restricted items
Carrying expensive items
If you are departing Australia with expensive items (such as computers, cameras and video cameras) and you intend to bring them back to Australia, register these items on the Goods Exported in Passenger Baggage form at the end of this section. You cannot use this form if you intend claiming a refund under the Tourist Refund Scheme. The goods registered must be easily identifiable; serial numbers etc must be included.
If possible, goods are to be carried in hand baggage and the officer who performs your immigration clearance at the outwards control point will check the goods and validate your form by signing and stamping it. If items are too large to be carried and must be included in your hold baggage, contact the closest Customs office for advice on where the goods may be inspected.
Once registered, you do not need to declare these articles to Customs on your return to Australia but you should keep the registration form handy in case Customs has any questions.
For jewellery and other goods not readily identifiable, carrying proof of ownership in the form of receipts or insurance documents will help if you are questioned about the goods on return.
You may take any personal goods out of Australia without having to pay duty/tax on these goods when you return (other than items that you purchased duty/tax free in Australia before your trip and which are in excess of your duty free concession).
Goods purchased duty or tax free in Australia must be taken with you and inspected at the departure point. You may also need to declare these on your return (See Duty free Concessions)
Goods exported in passenger baggage form (12 kb)
Did you know?
If you are taking medications, you should contact the consulates or embassies of countries to be visited well before departure to confirm that the medicines and the quantities to be carried are permitted. It might also help in your dealings with Australian and overseas authorities if you have a prescription and a doctor's letter explaining your medical condition and the medications, prescription and otherwise, that you are taking for it.
Caution - Taking prescription medicine subsidised under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) overseas that are not for your personal use or for the use of someone travelling with you, is illegal. A $5000 fine and/or a two-year jail sentence is the penalty for dealing with PBS medicine in a way other than which it was meant. For more information, phone Medicare Australia's Travelling with PBS medicine inquiry line: 1800 500 147, or visit www.medicareaustralia.gov.au.
It is illegal to take or send out of Australia, without a permit, items identified as important to Australia's cultural heritage. For information on requirements and permits, contact the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts on phone (02) 6271 1610, fax (02) 6271 1122, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.dcita.gov.au
The export of firearms and ammunition requires a Restricted Goods Permit obtained from Customs before export. Certain goods with dual military/civilian uses are also subject to restrictions. Contact the Defence Export Control Office to see if a permit is required.
The export of Australian native animals and plants, or products made from them, is either prohibited or restricted. For further information on the applicable prohibitions and restrictions, and the requirements which must be met to obtain a permit, contact Environment Australia on 02 6274 1900 or visit www.biodiversity.environment.gov.au/wildlif.
You should protect yourself from infectious diseases and see your doctor early about medications and vaccination, as some vaccinations need time to take effect. Read the Travelsafe pamphlets for information on how to protect yourself from infectious diseases. These pamphlets are available at Customs offices.
There are severe penalties for Australian citizens or residents who engage in child prostitution activities overseas. For further information about the law, get a copy of the Ending Child Sex Tourism pamphlet available at Customs offices.
Customs officers no longer stamp Australian passports as a matter of course but should you require evidence of travel you may ask the officer to do so.
If you are receiving a payment through Centrelink, call them on 131 021 before you travel overseas. Your payment may be stopped while you are away or you may have to pay money back if you do not contact Centrelink before departure.
If you are a temporary resident, you might have money in Australia you don't know about.
If you earn more than $A450 in a calendar month while working in Australia, your employer is required by law to contribute to your retirement by paying money into a "superannuation" account.
To find out more about the Departing Australia Superannuation Payment (DASP), visit the Australian Taxation Office's superannuation website.
Copyright piracy and trade mark counterfeiting are illegal.
By buying pirated or counterfeit items, not only could you end up with a flawed product, you are supporting an illegal trade that could involve serious criminal activity.
You can play an important role in combating copyright piracy and counterfeiting of trade marks by not bringing pirated or counterfeit goods into Australia. In some circumstances pirated and counterfeit goods imported into Australia are liable to seizure by Customs and people importing such goods may be subject to civil litigation or criminal prosecution.
Bribing of foreign officials
As part of the Australian Government's efforts to promote a high standard of integrity in international business transactions, Customs reminds travellers that the bribing of foreign officials is a crime prosecutable under Australian law. The criminal penalties are significant, and include the possibility of imprisonment. For more detail on this issue, visit the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department's foreign bribery web site at www.ag.gov.au/foreignbribery