Arriving in Australia for your dream holiday? It can be daunting to arrive in a new country for the first time: especially after a long flight. Here's an overview of what to expect at the airport, along with some tips and tricks to make the process as smooth as possible.

Arriving in Australia

However you arrive in Australia, there are some formalities to go through when you get here: passport, customs, and biosecurity controls. Our international airport arrival areas are laid out so that you do this in order and all being well you will be through in no time.

 

After your plane lands, you will:

  • Head to Passport Control to show your passport/visa
  • Collect your bags from the baggage carousel
  • Dispose of any items (eg food from the plane) that aren't allowed into Australia
  • Proceed to Customs & Border Protection, where your bags may be inspected
  • Leave the airport and begin the holiday of a lifetime!

 

The Process

 

Follow the signs to Passport Control

The first thing you do when you get off the plane is go through passport control. Everyone will be going in the same direction so if you can’t see the signs, follow the crowds. There will probably be a queue of people waiting to go through. Make sure you have your passport ( and visa if you need one) in your hands, ready to be presented.

Learn more about Getting a Flight to Australia

 

Baggage collection

After passport control, you will collect your baggage. There will be signs for you to follow that say ‘Baggage collection’. Check the information screens on the carousels to find your flight number, your bag will come out between 20 and 30 minutes after you land. If you can’t find your bag, just speak to a member of staff at the airport so they can help locate it.

Need tips on what to pack? Our Australian Holiday Packing Guide has the answers.

 

Clearing Customs and Border Protection

To pass through customs and border protection you will need to fill out the incoming passenger immigration card. To save time, fill this out while you’re still on the plane. You will also need your passport and visa at this stage too.

More information on Passport and Visa Requirements for Australia

 

Quarantine

Australia is one of the strictest nations in the world with what you can and can’t bring into the country, in order to prevent any diseases and pests being brought into its eco-system. On the airplane to Australia, you will be given an Incoming Passenger Card by the Flight Attendants. The Passenger Card is a declaration that explains what you are bringing into Australia. Answer all the questions truthfully. The penalties for false declarations are very heavy and the goods may be confiscated. 

You must declare for inspection all food, plant material, and animal products on arrival in Australia, otherwise, you could face a heavy fine and even end up on one of our reality TV shows called ‘Border Security’!

If you have something to declare, walk through the RED isle and if you have nothing to declare, walk through the GREEN isle. Find out more information about what you need to declare.

All being well, you will be through this process in no time, and you will be off to enjoy yourself.

Border Patrol

What items are free of duty and tax?

Most personal items such as new clothing, footwear, and articles for personal hygiene and grooming (excluding fur and perfume concentrates) may be brought into Australia in your accompanied baggage, free from duty and tax.

 Personal goods are free from duty and tax if they are:

  • owned and used by you overseas for 12 months or more
  • imported temporarily (security may be required by the Customs )

 

For other goods, limits apply. 

These include goods that are purchased overseas and goods that are purchased in Australia duty or tax free (that have been previously exported), or from an inwards duty-free shop on arrival into Australia.

Duty-free concessions do not apply to commercial goods. There are no duty-free concessions on tobacco or alcohol for travelers aged under 18.

 

Tobacco

If you are aged 18 years or over you can bring 50 cigarettes or 50 grams of cigars or tobacco products duty-free into Australia with you. All tobacco products in accompanied baggage are included in this category, regardless of how or where they were purchased.

 

General Goods

If you are aged 18 years or over, you can bring up to A$900 worth of general goods into Australia duty-free. If you are under 18 years of age there is an AU$450 limit. General goods include gifts, souvenirs, cameras, electronic equipment, leather goods, perfume concentrates, jewellery, watches, and sporting equipment.

 

Alcoholic beverages

If you are aged 18 years or over, you can bring 2.25 litres of alcoholic beverages duty-free into Australia with you. Aviation security regulations may restrict the volume of liquids that you can bring into Australia as hand luggage. Families traveling together can pool their duty-free concessions.

 

What happens if I exceed the duty-free limits?

If you exceed Australia’s duty-free limits, duty and tax will apply on all items of that type (general goods, alcohol or tobacco), not just the goods over the limit. Failure to declare goods in excess of your concession could result in penalties.

For further information please visit the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Incoming Passenger Card (IPC)

Passengers arriving in Australia are required under Australian law to identify themselves and provide certain information through the completion of a passenger card.

Australian Arrival Card 1

On the first page of your arrival card, you will need to provide:

  1. Your name including given name and family name
  2. Your passport number
  3. Flight number
  4. Your address in Australia (hotel or friend)
  5. If you are planning to stay in Australia for more than 12 months (depends on your visa)
  6. If you have tuberculosis or any criminal convictions
  7. If you have been to an African country in the last 6 days before your arrival
  8. If you were in contact with farm animals or wild animals in the last 30 days before arrival

You must also declare the items you are bringing to Australia, you must tick yes if you are bringing any of these items:

  1. Medicines/steroids
  2. Illegal drugs
  3. Firearms/weapons
  4. Illegal pornography
  5. More than 2250 ml of alcohol
  6. More than 25 cigarettes or 25 gms of tobacco
  7. Goods worth more than AU$900 including gifts
  8. Business samples
  9. More than AU$10,000 Australian or foreign currency equivalent
  10. Food items like meat, poultry, vegetables, fruits, seafood, dairy, egg, fish
  11. Grains, seeds, plants or plants related products, wooden articles
  12. Animal, animal parts or animal products
  13. Soil, attached to the shoes

Here is a complete list of things you must declare.

You must sign this page and date it. This is a legal document so signing this document means you are bound to the Australian law.  

Landing Card

On the second page of your arrival card, you will need to provide:

  1. Your contact details in Australia (you can provide just your email address if you don’t have a phone number.)
  2. The country where you boarded the plane
  3. Your occupation 
  4. Your nationality
  5. Your date of birth
  6. Emergency contact details of a friend or a family member
  7. Select option "B" from A, B and C options
  8. Write down how long you intend to stay in the country
  9. Your country of residence (your home country)
  10. Your main reason for travel

We highly suggest you declare all the items you are bringing to Australia. If you don’t declare, you can get fines from AU$340 to AU$66,000 or 10 years in prison.

 

Our top tips for a smooth arrival into Australia?

  • Before you leave home, read the official guide to what you can bring in to Australia and repack if necessary
  • Pack a pen in your carry-on bag - you'll save time by filling out the Incoming Passenger Card during your flight
  • Write down the address of your first night's accommodation - you'll need it for the Incoming Passenger Card
  • Bringing hiking boots to Australia? Clean any dirt off them before you go - they will be inspected.
  • Ask a Border Control Officer for help if you're unsure - they're happy to advise if you're unsure if an item is permitted.

Having sailed through the arrivals process, it's time to start the holiday of a lifetime! 


More articles to help you plan your trip to Australia


Getting to Australia
How Long Should I Visit Australia For
Australian Passport and Visa Requirements
Travel Insurance for Australia
Driving in Australia
Safety in Australia's Great Outdoors
What to Pack for an Australian Holiday
Australian Accommodation Guide
Australia's Need to Know Facts
What do things cost in Australia

Since 2001 we’ve been helping visitors plan their dream Australian holiday. We aim to make visiting our beautiful land effortless. Let our expert holiday planners put together an itinerary for you, no obligation FREE of charge, or get some friendly advice on what small group tour would suit - Just follow the link and answer a few brief questions