The ease of shopping from the comfort of your home – and the convenience of being able to shop internationally – is one of the reasons online shopping is popular in Australia and around the globe.
However, similar to when you purchase items when travelling overseas, goods that you buy online are also subject to Australia’s biosecurity laws. These laws are in place to protect our environment, agricultural industries and economy from harmful pests and diseases prevalent in other parts of the world.
Be biosecurity aware - ensure your online shopping is safe and does not pose a risk to Australia.
Before you buy
Before you buy goods from overseas, check that the item you wish to purchase is allowed into Australia. Some goods pose a significant risk and are not permitted entry into Australia. Other goods are only allowed if they meet import conditions or undergo treatment (if available) at your expense.
You can use the department’s Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON) to search for information on particular goods and the conditions under which they can be imported.
Know what food you can buy
All imported food must meet biosecurity requirements to be allowed into Australia. Some foods may not be allowed or may have restrictions (even if they are commercially packaged), including:
- meat and meat products
- fruit and vegetables
- eggs and egg products
- dairy products
- grains, seeds and nuts.
Buying food online from overseas could end up more costly and troublesome than the goods are worth. Avoid delays and loss of goods by visiting your local markets or international grocer to find the same or similar products.
Know what plant products you can buy
If you want to purchase plant products online , such as seeds or plants, you need to check whether they can be brought into Australia.
Imported plants and seeds can introduce pests and diseases that could be harmful to Australia’s environment, agriculture and economy. To protect against this risk, the department sets conditions for the safe import of plants and seeds to Australia. Some plants and seeds may only be imported under an import permit granted by the department.
Understanding what happens if you do not comply
When your goods arrive at the Australian border they will be assessed as to whether they can be imported. This assessment includes intervention by biosecurity officers and screening using detector dogs and X–ray machines at all international mail centres around Australia.
If your goods do not meet import conditions, they may be destroyed or sent back to the overseas sender.
If any attempt has been made to conceal the goods, for example, requesting the supplier to pack goods in a manner designed to hide or make them hard to identify, you may be subject to an investigation and possible criminal prosecution.