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Returning to Australia

Required documents and SmartGate

All travellers returning to Australia must have a valid passport and 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 and Water Resources biosecurity requirements

Australia has strict biosecurity requirements to help minimise the risk of exotic pests and diseases entering the country. All travellers must ensure they comply with biosecurity requirements before entering Australia.

You must declare certain food, plant material and animal products on your Incoming Passenger Card.  You can take declared goods with you to the inspection point, where they will be assessed by a Department of Agriculture and Water Resources biosecurity officer. Alternatively, you can voluntarily dispose of food, plant material or animal items in the bins located in the terminal before the inspection points. If you're caught carrying undeclared, regulated items you could be fined or prosecuted.

Luggage is screened using detector dogs, x-ray machines and baggage inspection. 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 may be seized for export or destruction.

Before travelling, check you can bring your items back into Australia on the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website. For detailed import conditions, visit the Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON) website.  

Department of Home Affairs requirements

Items that are restricted and must be declared on arrival include:

  • firearms, weapons and ammunition
  • performance and image enhancing drugs
  • medicines, including prescription medications, alternative and herbal medicines, vitamins and mineral preparation formulas
  • currency (AUD10,000 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 the Department of Home Affairs and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, many wildlife products require permits from the Department of the Environment and Energy to allow entry into Australia. 'Wildlife' includes (but isn't 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, find out if you need a permit. Without the correct permit, your product will be seized and you may be subject to penalties or fines.

More information

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

Customs and border protection processes and requirements:

Import and export of wildlife products and permits: