What should I expect at the border entry at an Australian airport?

I will arrive with a training visa.

Passport, visa control and customs?

  • Why the close votes? Sure, this is a "Travel 101" question, but it's a perfectly valid and well-specified one. – lambshaanxy Mar 2 '16 at 23:33
  • And, why anybody would consider a Travel 101 question to close? – Gergely Mar 3 '16 at 7:45

Arrival in Australia is fairly straightforward, if occasionally time-consuming.

On the flight, you will receive an arrival card that you need to fill out. Answer this honestly, and if you have any doubt about the answers to the "are you bringing in X" questions, answer "Yes". Australia has very strict biosecurity requirements for food, untreated wood, soil etc. If you declare, the worst that can happen is that the item is confiscated; if you don't declare, you can be heavily fined.

Once you've landed, follow the crowds to Immigration for passport control. Nationals of a select few countries (at time of writing, Canada, Ireland, NZ, Singapore, Switzerland, UK, USA) can use the SmartGate automated system, but I presume you're not a citizen of these, so you'll need to queue up in the Non-Australian Citizens line, which can take some time.

If your visa is in order and you can answer the Immigration officer's questions satisfactorily, your passport will be stamped and you'll continue to baggage claim. Keep the arrival card!

Pick up your bags and head to Customs. The queues here can be long: at peak times, an hour is not unusual. Here your arrival card will again be inspected and you'll be asked if you have any food or other items to declare. (Again, answer honestly!) Depending on your answers, whether you have raised any suspicions plus the odds of a random check, you will either:

  1. be sent straight through with no checks
  2. have your bags sniffed by a Customs dog looking for food and drugs
  3. have your bags X-rayed
  4. have your bags manually opened and inspected

And that's it -- you're in Australia!

  • 2
    +1 for the "be honest" part. I once travelled to Sydney with a broken collarbone and had some painkillers with me. On the card, I answered 'yes' to "are you carrying any medication?" question. I was sent to the "further inspection" queue, where a customs officer asked me what I was carrying. I honestly told him that it was an over-the-counter painkiller for my broken bone (my arm wasn't in the cast, but it was held up in a sling). He looked at me, smiled and said something like, "I think we'll let this through" - and I was on my way. – Aleks G Mar 2 '16 at 22:23
  • 2
    I think you can't stress enough: Declare all food, even if it is allowed! Further, if you had food on the plane, finish eating it or leave it behind. – Michael Hampton Mar 2 '16 at 23:13
  • As Michael said above, declare all food and don't try to bring in any fruit. :) – Ingytron Mar 3 '16 at 2:05
  • ++++ to everything about being honest and declaring anything you're not sure about. Otherwise we'll all end up watching you on Border Security ;) – Tim Malone May 23 '16 at 9:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.