Returning to Australia

Required documents and SmartGate

All travellers returning to Australia must have a valid passport and a completed Incoming Passenger Card.

If you hold an Australian or New Zealand ePassport and are aged 16 years or over, you are eligible to use SmartGate when arriving at Australian international airports. SmartGate allows you to self-process through passport control using ePassport data and facial recognition technology. This is a simple way to go through customs and immigration checks usually done by an officer.

Department of Agriculture biosecurity requirements

Australia has strict biosecurity requirements in place to help minimise the risk of exotic pests and diseases entering the country. All travellers must ensure that they comply with biosecurity requirements before entering Australia. Luggage is screened using detector dogs, x-ray machines and baggage inspection. If you are caught carrying undeclared prohibited items you could be fined or prosecuted.

You must declare certain food, plant material and animal products to a Department of Agriculture officer. If you have items you don't wish to declare, you can dispose of them in bins in the airport terminal.

In many cases the goods you declare will be returned to you after inspection. Some items may require treatment to make them safe. Items that are prohibited because of the risk of pests and disease will be seized and destroyed.

Australian Customs and Border Protection Service requirements

Items that are restricted and must be declared to Customs and Border Protection include:

  • Firearms, weapons and ammunition
  • Performance and image enhancing drugs
  • Medicines including prescription medications, alternative and herbal medicines, vitamins and mineral preparation formulas
  • Currency - AUD $10,000 or more in Australian currency or foreign equivalent
  • Protected wildlife such as coral, orchids, caviar, ivory and hunting trophies
  • Agricultural and veterinary chemical products
  • Illegal pornography
  • Heritage-listed goods - such as works of art, stamps, coins, archaeological objects and specimens
  • Defence and strategic goods

In addition to approval from Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Agriculture, many wildlife products require permits from the Department of the Environment to allow entry into Australia. 'Wildlife' includes (but is not limited to) any whole, part or derivative of a plant or animal, either living or non-living. For example wood, seeds, insects, leather/fur, pills/medicines, faeces, teeth, meat, live plants, fresh or dried flowers.

If you buy wildlife products overseas, you should find out if you need a permit. Without the correct permit, your product will be seized by Customs and Border Protection and you may be subject to penalties or fines.

More information

Bringing in food, animals, plants, animal or plant materials or their derivatives:

  • Visit the Department of Agriculture website
  • Phone the Department of Agriculture on 1800 020 504 within Australia or +61 2 6272 3933 outside Australia.

Customs and Border Protection processes and requirements:

The import and export of wildlife products and permits: