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Bringing Food from Home: The Essential Guide to Carrying Food into Australia.

Trinity College Foundation Studies

Fri Mar 08 2019


Many international students in Australia experience homesickness in their first period away from home and would do anything to alleviate that loneliness of leaving their countries and families, including bringing home or traditional food to Australia.

While it is perfectly acceptable to bring in your favourite food, it must abide by the custom laws of the Australian Government. This is done to protect Australia’s residents, wildlife, nature and agriculture sector. Read on for a guide to help you understand the in’s and out’s of Australia’s border control.

What food can you bring?

Most foods are allowed into Australia if you declare it, a process where you inform the border security that you are carrying food items. However, there are items that will be deemed a danger to Australia and be disposed of.

For a list of food, products and materials allowed into Australia upon declaration, visit the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources factsheet on ‘Arriving in Australia’.

How do you package the food you are bringing?

Now that you know what foods you can bring through but there are also specific ways you should manage your food items. The most important thing is how to package the food in an appropriate way when you are passing the security check at the airport and successfully bring them on the plane. According to different food categories that can be brought to final countries by declaring, there are mainly two types of food with their different rules for packaging are provided below:

For dry food such as crackers, cookies and chips, do not open the packaging until you are already past the checkpoints in order to prevent spilling food debris. Place the food in a sealable container or in its original packaging to ensure no leakage happens.

For liquids like vinegar, oil, and honey, similar rules follows at security checkpoints. Each item must be 3.4 ounces or less, and has to be packed in a transparent container. Any amount of liquid style food is allowed in a checked bag but surround it with extra packaging to ensure it does not leak.

What is the declaring process?

Now that you have read through the list of food allowed and the consequences awaiting should you violate those rules, you might be discouraged and figured that you might just bring nothing at all. But students should not be discouraged as long as you declare your food, most of them should be allowed through especially if they are commercially packaged and available.

The declaring process is easy as well. Towards the end of your flight to Australia, you will be given an Incoming Passenger Card (IPC), on which there are questions regarding the items that you are carrying into this country. Tick “yes” if you are bringing the mentioned items, including food of all kinds.

When you are at baggage collection there may also be officers who would go around asking if you’ve got particular food items in your bags. It is important to say “yes I have” if you are carrying any food, especially if you are bringing food from the airplane!

You may be subjected to a bag scan after but if you have declared the food, students can rest assured that they will not incur fines. But in the event that they do find an item that is unsuitable to be brought into Australia, officers will dispose them.

Should they discover any undeclared food products, you will be subjected to civil penalties, prosecuted, fined or even imprisoned, depending on the severity of the offense.

Why do you have to declare? 

While you want to avoid being fined or jailed because of your undeclared items or prohibited goods, there are more underlying reasons behind the tight security by the Australian Customs and Borders Protection Service.

Some goods that are brought to Australia might be contaminated with disease and might be carrying micro-organisms, or unsafe chemicals that might threaten Australia’s residents, wildlife, natural and agricultural sector. It is the Australian security officers’s priority to prevent this in order to ensure public health and safety. So don’t forget to always declare the food and items you bring into Australia.

This story was produced by Media and Communication students at Trinity College Foundation Studies as part of Meld’s community newsroom collaboration. Education institutions, student clubs/societies and community groups interested in being involved can get in touch with us via

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