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We look at the key things everyone wants to bring back from their overseas trips…and what you should actively avoid packing for your return trip. Many of these items are regularly confiscated by our Department of Immigration & Border Control.


Unsurprisingly, you’ll struggle to bring items into the country that could be used as a weapon – regardless of the amount of damage they can do. Commonly confiscated weapons include:

  • Blades
    • switchblades, flick knives
    • concealed blades (e.g. pen knives, umbrella swords)
    • daggers
    • throwing blades/stars
  • Other weapons (projectile or otherwise)
    • batons (particularly the extendable kind that riot police use)
    • knuckle dusters (e.g. brass knuckles)
    • nunchakus
    • pepper spray
    • slingshots with an arm brace (depending on the state or territory you’re from)
    • firearms (e.g. BB guns, paintball guns, actual firearms, replicas)
    • stun guns, cattle prods

Many types of swords can be brought back in, so long as you declare them.

Food and drink

Most people are surprised that they cannot bring in foods that were completely safe to consume from the country they just departed. But foods are an ideal incubator for viruses, diseases, and more, which is why our Border Control treats them with intense scrutiny.

As a rule, the following will be difficult to pass through quarantine:

  • fruit
  • vegetables
  • meat

That said, goods that are clearly marked with the country of origin may pass through customs (depending on what it is), so there may be hope for anyone wanting to bring back some cheese from France. It also means jerky is pretty safe to bring back, so long as it’s in a sealed packet.

Medicines and drugs

Many of us travel with medication for the sake of our health. Things like insulin for diabetics and inhalers for asthmatics aren’t going to make security stop for pause (although you may need a doctor’s note for the needles)…but this isn’t the case for all substances.

If you don’t have a letter from your doctor, or you’re bringing in more than a certain amount, you may struggle to bring back certain medication from overseas. Additionally, certain drugs/substances are outright banned – you’ll need to check the Australian Customs website to be sure. In particular, though, the following substances are most often confiscated at our airports:

  • hormones
  • sedatives
  • steroids

Illegal & pirated DVDs / Blu-ray discs

As a general rule, if it’s illegal in Australia, don’t bring it home. That rule certainly applies for certain video discs obtained overseas.

Laser pointers

The Australian Government has previously legislated against laser pointers stronger than 1mW. Essentially, if you can see the laser in broad daylight, it’s probably not allowed back into Australia.

Animal and natural products

If your animal/natural product purchases are not clean and in new packaging, you may struggle to get them through border control. Additionally, your natural fibre products better be free of bark, insects, holes, etc.

Avoid bringing back…

  • leather (if it’s not fully tanned)
  • fur
  • horns
  • bones
  • wood and/or woven items

Guess what? We’ve written plenty more hot tips for restless travellers, Or consider comparing travel insurance if you’re still planning your trip.


  • http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Ente/Brin/Can-I-bring-it-back/Can-I-Bring-It-Back-Top-20
  • http://www.ebay.com.au/gds/Laser-Pointer-Buying-Guide-/10000000177629596/g.html

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