Restricted Products for Shipping to Australia

Restricted Products for Shipping to Australia

Australia is a land of diverse landscapes, unique wildlife, and a rich cultural tapestry. It’s also known for its stringent import regulations. While Aussies love to explore the world and bring home souvenirs from their travels (which may even be true of people travelling outside Australia for the first time), there are several products that you may not be able to bring back to the land Down Under due to strict biosecurity and customs controls.

In this blog, let’s cover the reasons why Australians may face restrictions on what they can import and highlight some general product categories that could raise red flags at customs, excluding banned substances.

Import Controls 

Australia’s unique environment and biodiversity are vulnerable to threats posed by exotic pests, diseases, and contaminants. To safeguard the country’s natural assets, the Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) enforce stringent import controls. These controls aim to prevent the introduction of harmful organisms and hazardous materials that could jeopardise agriculture, public health, and the environment.

In a certain perspective, some people might have a little souvenir awareness through Seven’s Border Security: Australia’s Front Line TV show, where in many episodes, some passenger arrivals in Australia have their baggage searched by ABF officers to varying degrees of success.

Restricted Products

Let’s dissect the following product categories that might not be allowed to be brought into Australia, which may come to light when listed on your Incoming Passenger Card. In many cases, seized goods will be destroyed under controlled conditions.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Australia has strict regulations on fresh produce to protect against potential pests and diseases. Bringing fruits, vegetables, or plants from overseas may require permits and inspections; as such, any food items should be declared.

Meat and Dairy Products

Imported meat and dairy products can carry diseases that can harm Australia’s livestock and dairy industries. Such items are typically subject to tight restrictions, but there are some caveats – dairy products like cheese, butter, and milk must have come from a country listed free of FMD and are still sealed in their commercial packaging, and only for personal consumption. As for stored breastmilk, it must be in cold-storage containers and is meant for infants cared for by the person carrying the shipment – such as a mother travelling with her baby.

The FMD protocol also applies for meat products whether or not they are under the BICON (Biosecurity Import Conditions) list.

Seeds and Plants

Bringing in seeds, plants, or soil can introduce new species that may outcompete native flora or harbour pests. Special permits issued by the DAFF may be required for these items alongside a phytosanitary certificate from the exporting country, assuring the item is free of Trogoderma.

Live Animals and Pets

Importing live animals, including pets, can be complex and may require quarantine periods mandated by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service to ensure they are free from diseases. The DAFF also has a category listing of countries from which an import permit to Australia is required, including those declared rabies-free.

However, some specific dog and cat breeds are not allowed to be brought in Australia due to being threats of invasive species. For example, the Japanese Tosa’s stocky build as a dog fighter breed makes for a massive threat on the street and the American pitbull terrier has long been banned due to being a culprit in over 10.3 per cent of tallied dog attacks in NSW alone, per a Sydney Children’s Hospital study from Q1 2022. Any offspring that are mixed-lineage with the banned breeds will not be allowed as well.

Recently, Government Services/NDIS Minister Bill Shorten urged for the government to update banned dog breeds list to include Rottweilers in light of a mauling in Perth where a woman was savaged by her own pet Rottweilers – but not all Aussie Rottweiler owners and animal rights advocates are sold on his appeal.

Wooden Items

Wooden products like furniture and souvenirs can harbour wood-boring insects and will be evident when they show signs of bark or unnatural holes. These items are often subject to strict treatment and inspection requirements under BICON.

Leather and Animal Products

Products made from animal hides, such as fur or leather, may raise concerns about diseases and ethical sourcing, especially since some leather goods imported into Australia are from countries with allegedly ineffective animal welfare laws. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) governs the importation of animal by-products into signatory states like Australia.

Biological Samples and Research Specimens

Scientists and researchers importing biological samples or specimens must adhere to strict protocols to prevent the introduction of pathogens and pests. The importing process will require clearance from DAFF and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.

Medications and Pharmaceuticals

Even over-the-counter medications can be subject to scrutiny. Australians should ensure they are carrying a personal supply and have the necessary documentation for prescription medications, particularly English-language papers by licensed practitioners in countries where English is a second language. Exercise caution as well if you bought a small stock of OTC medicines in countries that already have high pharmaceutical industry standards. A crosscheck of BICON before flying to Australia may help identify whether your medicines are cleared, including those with plant-based ingredients.

Weapons and Firearms

Importing weapons, firearms, and related items is tightly regulated for obvious safety and security reasons. There’s also the possibility that the customs authorities at your port of embarkation might flag and confiscate them before you get on the plane.

The Department of Home Affairs also prohibits the importation or carriage of non-weapon items but still have sharp edges, including ski poles.

Some may ask if the weapons import ban also applies to airsoft weapons. The team at advocacy group Airsoft Australia states that due to their realistic appearance, they are not allowed for sale across the country. NT, however, allows for ownership, provided the owner has the appropriate firearms licence and importing them will require filing a B709A Importation of Firearms application. As for gel-blaster weapons, only Queensland allows importation under B709A and sale under licence, but they cannot be sold to customers outside the state.    

Counterfeit Goods

Bringing counterfeit items into Australia infringes on IP rights and may lead to legal consequences. The ABF is legally mandated to inspect and seize potential shipments of counterfeit goods.

Cultural Artefacts and Antiques

Certain cultural artefacts and antiques may be subject to restrictions to prevent the illicit trade of stolen or culturally significant items. The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications, and the Arts states that any artefacts from the country you bought them from must be allowed for export under their own cultural property laws, and the ABF will ask you to furnish the associated papers.  

Vehicles and Machinery

Importing vehicles, machinery, and heavy equipment can be complicated due to compliance with Australian safety and emissions standards.

What Happens if You Attempt to Bring Restricted Products?

Attempting to bring prohibited items into Australia can have serious consequences. The ABF and DAFF work in tandem to enforce customs regulations.


Prohibited items will be confiscated, and you may lose the goods permanently. In the case of biohazardous materials, the authorities will set them aside in special containers and burn them in incinerators elsewhere in the facility.

Fines and Jail

You could face substantial fines and prison terms for attempting to import prohibited items, and the amount and duration may depend on which product category the items are from. Counterfeit goods, for example, will warrant up to five years’ prison and fines of up to $115,500, per the Trade Marks Act 1995. 

Legal Action

In some cases, serious breaches of import controls may result in legal action and criminal charges. The ABF can also ask an arrival to be detained for more strenuous questioning about items they may have not declared. If that arrival is not an Australian permanent resident or citizen, their visa will be cancelled and they will be sent home on the next available flight. 

Environmental Impact

Importing harmful species or contaminants can have detrimental effects on Australia’s environment, agriculture, and ecosystems.

Avoiding to Import Restricted Products

To avoid running afoul of Australia’s import regulations, follow the guidelines below.

ABF and DAFF Websites

Visit websites of the Australian Border Force and Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to familiarise yourself with the latest regulations and restrictions.

Declare All Items

When returning to Australia, declare all items you’re bringing with you, especially those you’re unsure about. It’s better to declare an item and have it inspected than risk penalties.

Research Destination Regulations

Before purchasing items overseas, research the import regulations in both the destination country and Australia to ensure compliance.

Travel with Documentation

Carry any necessary documentation for items like prescription medications or valuable items to prove their legitimacy.

Purchase Souvenirs Mindfully

Be mindful when purchasing souvenirs. If you’re uncertain about an item’s eligibility for import, consult customs officers or the respective government agencies.

Use Quarantine Bins

Dispose of any prohibited items, such as fruits and uneaten food, in quarantine bins provided at airports and ports of entry. If you were served an inflight meal but you didn’t eat it and preferred to take it off the plane, you will be asked to dispose of it.  


Australia’s strict import controls are in place to safeguard its unique environment, agriculture, and public health. While it’s natural to want to bring home memories from your travels, it’s essential to do so within the bounds of the law. It’s better to err on the side of caution and prioritise the preservation of Australia’s natural beauty and biodiversity.

DISCLAIMER:  This article is for informational purposes only. 2 Ezi has no relationships with any border security or immigration office, or any import-export business.

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