Bringing bak kwa through Australian customs

There is nothing worse than landing in Australia from a long flight and having to go through Australian customs. Only to find out that all the food you brought back with you can’t be taken into the country. Knowing what I knew now could have saved a lot of delicious food and presents for family and friends being thrown away.

Australia has very strict custom laws beautiful and delicate and can easily be thrown out of balance with the unwanted introduction of plant, animal and bacterial species. Australia also has a massive agriculture and breeding industry such as for cattle and horses. An outbreak of disease would severely cripple our export economy.

The prime example of upsetting the ecosystem is the Cane Toad, an invasive species introduced last century for the purpose of eating Cane Beetles (bugs that ruin sugar cane crop).

What is allowed?

Things like meat, fresh fruit and vegetables, is firmly denied entry into Australia. Products such as steak, chicken, poultry, pork, jerky, biltong and salami will usually all be confiscated at the border. When bringing items back into Australia if a customs officer sees that the product has been manufactured, packaged and labelled properly they will be more likely to allow the package into the country. Anything else is up to the customs person.

Should I try and sneak it past Australian customs?

Every passenger passing through customs at an Australian port may have their baggage assessed by x-ray, detector dog or a biosecurity officer even if they have nothing to declare. If you are found to be carrying prohibited goods that you have not declared you face penalties for:

  • making a false declaration on your Incoming Passenger Card
  • failing to declare prohibited items
  • failing to dispose of prohibited items

The penalties are severe. They range from

  • on the spot fines of up to $340 (AUD)
  • criminal prosecution with fines of $66,000 (AUD)
  • up to 10 years imprisonment

A basic rule of thumb anything you eat means you declare it. At worst if you declare they take it off you. If you don’t declare then you start getting into fines and what not.


From talking to other people who have gone through Australian customs each person’s experience was a little different. It ultimately depends on the customs persons experience and their mood. If your wanting the best chances of getting your bak kwa through customs. Always declare and bring in the pre-packaged product with proper labeling.

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