Crossing the Australian Border: What to Expect

  If it’s your first time to enter the Australian border, it is understandable for you to have mixed emotions that range from excitement to fear. After all, life in Australia can be oh so different from what you have gotten used to in the Philippines.   One look around and you’ll definitely come to the realization that this is far from the adobo-smelling home that you have come to know so well. Because of all these changes, might as well get to know everything there is to know about what you have to expect the moment you go through the border.   Documents Needed   An important thing on your checklist would be your set of travel documents. Make sure you have everything handy the moment they are needed, because missing out on even one of the documents required could be a cause for your Australian dream to be cut short.  
  • A valid passport

  • A valid Visa (electronic Visas included)

  • A completed and signed Incoming Passenger Card

  • Health and character declaration
  The Incoming Passenger Card is something that you accomplish before being cleared by Immigration. If you feel that you might have a few problems completing the form, you can actually download a printable sample version and practice before leaving for Australia.   Items to be Declared   It is important to consult this list of the things that you need to declare before entering the Australian border. This way, you can avoid bringing any of the restricted items on the list and save yourself from the inconvenience of having to rescue yourself from an embarrassing situation.   Here is an overview of prohibited and restricted items. Some items on the list may be given written permission to be brought over the border, but only under valid circumstances.  
  • Firearms, weapons, and ammunition

A written permission would have to be obtained in the event that you feel the need to import them. These may also be subject to safety testing. Note that even things that you would usually consider as toys, like air soft pistols and paintball markers, would have to be declared as well.

  • Performance and image-enhancing drugs

Included on this list are human growth hormones, DHEA, anabolic steroids, and androgenic steroids.

  • Objectionable material

Any form of child pornography, sexual violence, footage of beheadings, and similar material are prohibited. It does not matter whether they are inside a computer hard drive or on a mobile phone.

  • Currency

You can bring as much money as you want into Australia, as long as any amount beyond AUD10,000 is declared, regardless of the currency. Promissory notes, personal cheques, traveller’s cheques, postal orders, money orders, and the like may also be declared.

  • Medicine

Any medicine that could be abused or misused should be declared, such as steroids and narcotic-based medication. Traditional medicine would also have to be declared especially if they have animal or plant extracts.


Prescription medicine that is enough for more than three months’ use should also be declared.


As for paracetamol, aspirin, and other Australian over the counter medication, there is no need for them to be declared.

  • Biological goods

Any biological goods like plant material, animal items, food items, soil, and the like must be declared. Remember that bringing these across the border would also mean opening up the risk of introducing pests and diseases into Australia, which means that they would have to go through thorough inspection first.

  • Protected wildlife

There are strict laws in place for protected wildlife like corals, orchids, ivory products, caviar, traditional medicinal products, and even hunting trophies.

  • Heritage-listed goods

A permit must be secured before bringing in heritage-listed goods like stamps, coins, works of art, minerals, or archaeological objects.

  • Veterinary products

All veterinary medicines and drugs must be declared without exemption.

  • Defence and strategic goods

Defence and strategic goods like explosives, firearms, sensors, lasers, and the like should be declared. Please consult the Export Controls Factsheet before attempting to bring any of those across the border.

  Remember that Australia has rules and laws in place that may not coincide with Philippine laws. For this reason, it is best to check for resources from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to make sure that you are prepared to cross the Australian border.   Special thanks to Michael McDonough for the main image.
Rica J

I am a mother, a wife and a technology loving Filipina who loves reading hi-fiction books (dragons!) , good stories, dancing, laughter, lying on the grass and eating balut. I am born and raised in the Philippines and now resides in Australia but finds myself in the Philippines for at least 3 months a year. I am part of the Filipino Australian Community and have been living between Australia and the Philippines since 2007.


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