Important Things to be Aware of When Receiving Gifts from Loved Ones Overseas

receiving packages in australia

This article is sponsored by Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment

In the age of coronavirus (COVID-19), showing your love from afar has never been so important. Though social isolation practices and global travel restrictions are necessary to ensure people’s health and safety worldwide, it has become increasingly hard to connect with our loved ones who live apart from us. As a result, your friends and family may be exploring new ways to show how much they care – one of which may be sending gifts and care packages to you here in Australia. 

It’s important to know, however, what you – or in this case, your loved ones – are legally allowed to send to the country. Ask your family and friends to follow this advice before sending goods to Australia.

Check if the goods are allowed

The Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON) makes it simple to check what food, plant material and animal products can be sent to Australia. Encourage your loved ones to use this tool to see if the goods they wish to send to you are allowed into Australia. They can simply search the item they want to send and view any import conditions that the object may have. For example, although certain goods are permitted to be imported into the country, they may require permits, special treatment, or extra documentation.

This is a very important step since products that do not meet Australia’s import conditions may be exported out of the country or destroyed. Remind your loved ones that familiarising themselves with these importation laws can save them a lot of time and money. 

If the goods do not pose a biosecurity risk, there may be other import restrictions set by the Australian Border Force or Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Prepare and pack

Proper packing of goods is vital to not only ensure your parcel remains intact but also to abide by Australian importation laws. Do not pack goods with straw or dried plant material or in egg cartons or cardboard boxes that were once used to hold fresh produce or meat. Instead, opt for materials like new cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, foam or newspapers. 


When sending gifts to Australia, your loved ones will need to fill out a declaration. The Australian Government uses this declaration to inspect the goods, to verify that they’re allowed in the country, and to levy the necessary duties or taxes on the import. 

Accurate declaration of goods is a legal requirement and therefore extremely important. It’s especially important to remember that any false or misleading import claims constitute an offence, meaning you and/or your loved ones could be prosecuted accordingly.

Report biosecurity concerns

If the package arrives and you notice something unusual in it that could indicate a pest or disease, report it immediately. Some things to look out for include live or dead insects, soil or seeds. Even if you’re unsure whether or not it’s cause for concern, it’s essential that you report it since pests and diseases can spread very far very quickly and can pose a threat to the health and safety of Australian residents. Given that we’re experiencing a global health pandemic, it’s especially important to prioritise health and safety in any and every way we can. There’s also no need to worry about any negative repercussions when reporting – you won’t be prosecuted if you accidentally imported risk material. 

To report any biosecurity concerns found in international mail, call the See. Secure. Report. hotline at 1800 798 636 or complete an online reporting form.