When you’re travelling it can be tempting to buy all types of fun souvenirs as novelty gifts to give to your friends; however it’s important to know what you can and can’t bring back to Australia.
While novelty items like knuckle dusters and BB guns might make for a great impulse buy when you’re overseas, they won’t be allowed through customs due to the fact that they’re most definitely illegal here in Australia – and may end up causing you no small amount of trouble in the form of fines, or even criminal charges.
What are some items not allowed through customs?
According to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, some of the commonly-seized items during 2014/15 were:
Drugs & Medicine
Whether they’re recreational, performance/image enhancing, or medicinal in nature, you won’t be getting any drugs past customs unless you can provide a prescription provided by a medical practitioner. On top of that, the amount you’re carrying cannot exceed three months’ supply at maximum dosage, and the prescription must either be in English, or you must be able to present a copy translated into English. The only exception to these rules comes in the form of a permit issued by the Minister for Health.
This includes, but is not limited to, poorly through-through purchases such as: knives, throwing stars, nunchakus, blow pipes, arm-braced catapults, laser pointers, pepper spray, crossbows, and guns/ammunition. There aren’t any caveats or exceptions to this one, unless you have express permission from either the Police Firearms Registry (for daggers, throwing knives, blades, and axes) or from the Minister for Immigration (for everything else).
Goods that may legal in other countries
Just because you can legally purchase knuckle dusters, electric shock devices, and BB guns in America for example, doesn’t for a second mean that you can get them past customs. Different countries have different laws.
Certain animal products
Regular ol’ cow leather is fine, but if for some reason you procured any cat or dog fur, or products made from cat or dog fur, you might find yourself in a spot of trouble. As with some varieties of weapon mentioned above, the permission to import this variety of restricted good comes from the Minister for Immigration; we can’t see too many permits being handed out for this one though.
This one can be a little harder to pin down, but if customs officials can determine that any of your belongings are counterfeit or infringing on trademarks or copyrights, they can then seize those goods. And look, if you buy a knockoff Gucci belt at a market you probably won’t be pinged for that, but you never know; companies such as Givenchy, Rolex, Apple, and Bvlgari have lodged Notices of Objection with Australian customs, which give customs officials express permission to inspect (and potentially seize) goods coming from, or said to be coming from the brand in question. So maybe think carefully about buying knockoff luxury goods next time you head overseas?
It’s worth noting that financial penalties for bringing prohibited items into Australia can be steeper than you might think, and can even potentially become to criminal charges for certain items and quantities. As we mentioned, some of these are importable with written permission, but as an average citizen on holiday you probably won’t have said permission, so staying away from them is a good idea.
So if you’re planning on going overseas these holidays, make sure to pay a quick visit to http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Ente/Brin/Can-I-bring-it-back and get a good idea of what you can and can’t bring back to Australia. Being at least reasonably familiar with what items are not allowed through customs may well save you a few headaches at the border, along with a hefty sum of money.