Advice to travellers

​​​​​Travellers and goods arriving in Australia can introduce exotic pests and diseases. This could harm our health, environment and commercial industries.

Check our current traveller alerts. These include tips on how you can reduce risks before you arrive in Australia.

You can also visit human health for advice on:

  • yellow fever vaccination requirements
  • bringing human remains back to Australia.

Current alerts

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African swine fever

What is the risk?

African swine fever is a highly contagious viral disease of pigs. It is one of the most serious livestock diseases, with high mortality rates in infected pigs. There is no vaccine or cure.

The virus can survive for many weeks, even months, in raw, cured and cooked meats, and on objects such as vehicles, equipment, footwear and clothes.

Why is it a problem for Australia?

An outbreak of African swine fever could devastate Australia’s livestock industries. It could cost the economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs.

Goods that present a risk

  • fresh, dried, and preserved meat products and dairy products
  • shoes, boots and clothing used on farms, in rural or wilderness areas, markets, zoos or near susceptible animals
  • camping equipment, including backpacks
  • mountain bikes and other sporting equipment
  • animal skins, hunting trophies, horns or bones that have not been properly cleaned/treated.

Treatment

You should clean your equipment thoroughly before you travel to Australia. If you bring goods that have soil and manure, they may require treatment.

Measures

  • do not bring meat products to Australia.
  • you must declare on your IPC if you have visited a rural area or been in contact with, or near, farm animals in the past 30 days.
  • declare and present anything that represents a possible African swine fever risk to a biosecurity officer for inspection on arrival in Australia.
For further information visit African swine fever.

Birds and bird products (bird flu and exotic avian diseases)

What is the risk?

Birds, poultry meat and poultry products can carry serious diseases, including bird flu (avian influenza), exotic strains of Newcastle disease and infectious bursal disease.

Bird flu (or avian influenza) is a highly contagious disease of poultry. It is caused by a virus, some strains are highly lethal.

Newcastle disease is one of the most serious of all infectious bird diseases. It is a devastating virus that can spread rapidly.

Infectious bursal disease (IBD) is a highly contagious viral disease of domestic fowl. The virus can remain infective in the environment for long periods and is resistant to many disinfectants.

Why is it a problem for Australia?

Newcastle disease has the potential to kill thousands of bird species. It could severely damage Australia’s egg, chicken, bird meat and aviary industries.

Harmful strains of bird flu affecting parts of Asia in recent years could devastate the Australian poultry industry and harm native bird populations.

Highly virulent IBD is a serious threat to production in commercial poultry flocks.

Goods that present a risk

When travelling to Australia from overseas, you MUST declare for inspection:

  • any poultry meat and products (including raw or cooked chicken and duck)
  • fresh or preserved eggs or egg products (including all whole, dried and powdered eggs)
  • mooncakes containing egg, and egg products such as mayonnaise
  • egg products including noodles and pasta that are not commercially manufactured
  • feathers and items containing feathers, bird nests, stuffed birds, bird cages, poultry vaccines
  • any other animal products, plant material and certain food.

Treatment

Poultry meat and products are not allowed into Australia and will be forfeited to the Commonwealth and destroyed.

Other goods will be inspected and may be returned to you, sent for treatment or exported at your expense or forfeited to the Commonwealth and destroyed. Check that you can bring the item back before travelling, refer to the Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON).

Measures

  • When travelling to Australia from overseas, don’t bring poultry meat and products. If you do, you MUST declare for inspection.
For further information visit the Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) section. The Department of Health website provides further information on bird flu including latest news and an information hotline.

Black spined toad

What is the risk?

The black spined toad has the potential to cause more damage to Australia’s environment than the cane toad.

Why is it a problem for Australia?

The black spined toad is not present in Australia and needs to be kept out.

Goods that present a risk

Toads are active at night and often feed on insects in well-lit areas before seeking a shelter to rest in during the day. Shoes and other equipment that are left outside overnight are a favoured hiding location for toads.

Measures

  • Check your shoes and other items for potential stowaways.
  • If you find a toad treat it carefully, as they have poisonous skin toxins. Use gloves but if you have to handle it with bare hands, use an antiseptic hand wash afterwards.
  • If you do happen to find a toad in your luggage once you have arrived home, place it in a secure container and call us on 1800 798 636. Do not release it into the environment or dispose of it in any other way.

Fishing and water sports (risk of Didymo)

What is it?

Didymo (Didymosphenia geminata) is a cool, freshwater algae that forms thick mats which smother river beds.

It can have a significant environmental impact and limit the use of the waterways for recreational activities.

Equipment used in fresh water, such as fishing lines, canoes, and waders pose a serious risk of carrying the ‘Didymo’ algae.

Why is it a problem for Australia?

Didymo is almost impossible to eradicate and takes just a single live cell to establish and spread. While not present in Australia, it has invaded rivers and lakes in Europe, Asia, North America and New Zealand.

Didymo is made up of cells that cannot be seen with the naked eye until a large colony is formed. Special care is therefore required when bringing equipment into Australia that has been used in fresh water overseas.

Goods that present a risk

Didymo can survive in damp conditions and is often carried on items such as:

  • fishing equipment – rods, reels, bags, rope, nets, knee guards, gaiters and waders
  • recreational and water sport equipment – wetsuits, neoprene socks, waterskiing and wakeboarding equipment, buoyancy vests, watercraft, paddles, spray decks, spray skirts, soft foam handles, hiking gear and swimwear.

Treatment

All items exposed to overseas freshwater rivers, lakes and streams must be thoroughly cleaned to remove any algal clumps, and be completely dried for inspection in Australia.

Goods and equipment not complying with these requirements or those goods that cannot be inspected to verify that they are clean and completely dry will be required to undergo mandatory treatment.

Options for didymo treatment are limited and an external commercial treatment provider may be required. Commercial treatment is at your expense and may take several weeks.

Where treatment is not possible, goods may be forfeited to the Commonwealth and destroyed, or exported at your expense.

Measures

If you bring any items exposed to overseas freshwater rivers, lakes and streams into Australia, ensure they are thoroughly cleaned and dry, and free of reservoirs of water.

Declare and present all freshwater equipment to a biosecurity officer for inspection when you arrive in Australia.

Top Tip: Hire equipment when overseas to avoid treatment costs and delays.

Soil and manure (risk of foot and mouth disease)

What is the risk?

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious viral disease of animals and is one of the most serious livestock diseases. It affects cloven-footed animals, such as cows and sheep.

Why is it a problem for Australia?

An outbreak of FMD could devastate Australia’s livestock industries, affect the economy and threaten jobs. Should an outbreak occur in Australia, it has been estimated to cost the Australian economy $50 billion over 10 years. An incursion of this disease would lead to a loss in production of meat and milk, cessation of trade and require the slaughter of many animals in order to control the disease.

Goods that present a risk

  • shoes, boots and clothing
  • camping equipment, including backpacks
  • mountain bikes and other sporting equipment that have been used in rural areas, markets and zoos or near susceptible animals, and have soil or manure attached.

Treatment

You should clean your equipment thoroughly before you travel to Australia. If you bring goods into Australia that have soil or manure attached, they may require treatment. In many cases, goods you declare will be of low risk and the biosecurity officer will return them to you after inspection. However, any goods that may present an unacceptable level of biosecurity risk will be managed, at your expense, in accordance with the Biosecurity Act 2015.

Measures

  • If you bring the types of goods listed above into Australia, ensure they are thoroughly cleaned and are free from soil and manure.
  • You must declare on your IPC if you have visited a rural area or been in contact with, or near, farm animals in the past 30 days.
  • Declare it and present anything that presents a possible FMD risk to a biosecurity officer for inspection on arrival in Australia.

Wooden articles (risk of timber borers, insect pests, bark and pathogens)

What is the risk?

The biosecurity risks associated with the importation of timber and wooden goods include:

  • infestation with insects or snails
  • contamination with soil, bark, plant material, animal residues and/or seeds
  • disease pathogens.

Other damaging pests that could threaten our biosecurity include Asian longhorn beetle, burnt pine longicorn beetle, Japanese pine sawyer beetle, Asian gypsy moth, termites, auger beetle, powder post beetles and wood wasps.

Bark presents a risk as it may carry disease spores and/or mask the presence of insects.

Why is it a problem for Australia?

If these pests and diseases establish in Australia they could have a devastating impact on our agriculture and forestry industries, natural environment, food security and economy.

Goods that present a risk

When travelling to Australia from overseas, you MUST declare all wooden articles including antiques, toys, instruments, statues, carvings, picture frames and wooden artefacts on your IPC.

All timber and wooden related articles must be inspected by a biosecurity officer before being permitted into Australia.

Treatment

If biosecurity concerns are found during the inspection, a biosecurity officer may direct you to treat the goods (at your own cost) following which they will be returned to you. Goods that cannot be treated will be forfeited to the Commonwealth and destroyed.

Measures

  • Ensure all wooden articles that you are importing are clean and free of bark, timber insects, soil or other contaminants.
  • Look closely for holes and sawdust as this may mean that your wooden article contains insect pests.
  • Declare it and present all wooden articles to a biosecurity officer for inspection when you arrive in Australia.
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