News How to Avoid Getting Your Souvenirs Confiscated at Customs

All articles

How to Avoid Getting Your Souvenirs Confiscated at Customs

Australia is a sensitive landscape where customs agents place anything coming in under serious scrutiny. At Skyscanner Australia, we'll help you clear customs with ease by highlighting the items you should bring along and the items you should leave behind.

If you’re going on holiday and want to bring back the perfect souvenir, make sure you follow the guidelines to make sure it makes it with you past customs.

Below are some of the most common items asked about, with guidelines true as of January 2020.

Personal use

All goods brought into the country must be for personal use unless you have a permit otherwise. For many items, the limit is 10kg/10 litres, but you should always check government policies (and check regularly).

Duty-free goods

Most common goods (such as clothing) will not be subjected to tax if they’re being brought into the country for personal use. This is limited to AU$900 for adults and AU$450 for those under 18.

There are also strict limits on duty-free alcohol and tobacco: 2.25 litres of alcohol per adult passenger and 25 grams of tobacco (roughly 25 cigarettes, not including one open packet).

If you have more than this, it’s your duty to declare it. In this case, you’ll have to pay tax on the amount you’ve gone over the limit. If you don’t declare the excess, you’ll have to pay tax on all of it.

Wooden items

Wooden items are generally allowed into Australia so long as they don’t have bark, insects or signs of insect damage.

These must always be checked at customs and if they don’t get approved they will either need to be treated, exported or destroyed.

Some souvenir stores overseas will provide ‘customs guarantees’ or the like, but these are generally meaningless. Even if your wooden item has a stamp of treatment or approval, it may still be confiscated at customs.

Food and drink

Meat is a touchy subject. The general rule is that if it needs to be kept in a fridge, you can’t bring it in. Tinned meat is normally okay, however meat in products like chocolate is not. Likewise, seafood (including prawns) is generally not allowed unless canned. 

Meat from New Zealand is a bit more flexible, but anything from a bird or pig is banned. Likewise, any jerky or biltong type products derived from pig are no longer allowed.

Fresh fruit and veg is also a no go, but fruit juice or pickled veg is okay.

As a general rule, most products (including tea, spices and nuts) must be packaged in a commercial manner and not have been opened at any point.

Live animals

Whether you’ve been volunteering at a sanctuary or you’ve fallen in love with an animal you’ve never seen before, there are very strict guidelines about who you can bring into the country.

Many animals (including cats and dogs) can only be brought in from approved countries (while others, like birds and rabbits, only from New Zealand) so long as they meet other requirements. To come into Australia, many animals may have to undergo a quarantine process.

Other animals, including reptiles and amphibians, cannot be brought into Australia as a pet under any circumstances. 

For animal products – such as leather, feathers and teeth – you need to make sure that these are clean, in packaging and, in the case of leather, that it has been properly treated.

Foreign contaminants

If you’ve been hiking, fishing or enjoying the great outdoors, you have to make sure that your items are clean and dry when you arrive in Australia.

Any soil, plant matter or seeds can contain harmful diseases, so any items with evidence of this on them may be denied. Check your shoes for caked mud and give them a thorough clean before you pack them into your baggage.

Risky things

You won’t be allowed to bring in anything is illegal or is commonly used as a weapon (or looks like it is). The weapons rule is a bit strange in that swords are generally permitted, but replica guns are not.

Thankfully, much of what is allowed into the country is common sense. You can keep up to date with changes in the rules on the government website here.


Read more