I am traveling and I would like to bring some local board games (all made from timber and marble) that I really liked back to Australia. However, I found this article.

Relevent bit:

All wooden, bamboo and similar articles imported for personal use are subject to import conditions, whether imported as passenger luggage, through the mail, via a courier service or through freig​ht. For some products, import conditions for personal use differ to those for goods imported on a commercial basis. These differences are set out in the department's Biosecurity Import Conditions (BICON) system​.

This is a bit vague and isn't very helpful as they haven't given examples. So I was just wondering if I am allowed to bring the board games or should I just give them away to some fellow travel mates I've met?

  • 27
    To me, what this seems to say is that IF you bring such items, you must declare them at customs and allow them to be inspected. But that doesn't mean they will necessarily be disallowed. They're probably most interested in whether the wood may be infected with harmful insects, so pristine wooden items of good quality wood that has obviously been sawmilled, lacquered, etc. ought to be more likely to pass muster than a backyard sculpture carved out of an odd-shaped branch someone found somewhere. Commented Oct 18, 2016 at 9:33
  • 9
    Not Australian, but in the US, we are experiencing diseases and insects brought over on improperly treated wooden pallets, and pallets that were declared to be properly treated but were not in order to cut cost. I'm sure the Australian government wants to avoid this situation. If you know these items to be disease and bug free, then you should not have a problem, but it sounds like there are certain steps that need to be taken.
    – jfa
    Commented Oct 18, 2016 at 20:41
  • And their border patrol is incredibly strict. My mother in law got detained for 10 hours once because her son put some beef jerky that he'd got ON THE PLANE in her purse without her knowing it. They were this close to sending her back to Canada when they relented and issued her an official warning instead.
    – corsiKa
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 22:41
  • Are these handcrafted wood or manufactured? It might be riskier if it is handmade, since they may not be treated properly.
    – Nelson
    Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 3:24
  • Damn, the handle of my dundee knife is made out of wood, I hope I won't get in trouble for that...
    – PlasmaHH
    Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 9:31

4 Answers 4


You can do very specific queries in the BICON - Australian Biosecurity Import Conditions database.

As an example, I entered chess board, which it did not know, but it gave me 5 suggested links, of which one was Wooden manufactured articles. My guess is this covers your timber board games. There it says among other things:

Each consignment will be subject to an inspection on arrival to verify that the goods are clean and free from any signs of borer holes, live insects, bark and other biosecurity risk material. If biosecurity risk material is found, the consignment will be treated in accordance with a Department of Agriculture and Water Resources approved method, or exported or destroyed at the importer's expense.

And biosecurity risk material is defined here.

You can dig in deeper for full details.

  • 1
    In the unlikely event that a biosecurity risk is found, none of the available treatment methods may be useful. Fumigation is only done for untreated timber and a game board is likely lacquered while heat treatment is an option but is liable to damage a board.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 8:33

From personal experience, I have brought in many wooden items from Papua New Guinea (PNG), which is somewhere they are very strict about checking imports from. The last time I did this two of the wooden stools I brought in had a couple of borer holes so they gave me two choices: Have the stools destroyed or have them treated. It was the same cost to me for both options I paid the price and had them treated. The stools were delivered to my house in a couple of weeks as good as new.

I'd definitely say bring the games in, declare them and even if they find a hole you should be fine.

  • 1
    That's a great answer from experience right here, thanks and +1! Welcome to Travel SE.
    – mts
    Commented Oct 18, 2016 at 23:27
  • 2
    And chess boards of course would typically be thickly lacquered which would likely be enough to count them as safe. But check.
    – jwenting
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 2:27
  • 1
    Cheers for sharing your experience! I've also done some research and looks like properly treated wooden products should be just fine. I will share my experience when I am back.
    – Anon
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 4:00
  • 3
    In 2008, I brought a wooden musical instrument, a bodhrán to Australia. It was thoroughly inspected at customs and I could bring it in. my experience was similar to @Glenn. Unless the rules have changed, bringing board games made of wood should be fine. Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 7:04

It is legal to bring wooden articles but you MUST declare them,

I just returned from Bali with a few wooden items, we declared them and customs took a look, one of these was fine, the other had some small holes in it that insects create when they burrow in the wood, it was destroyed.

When customs identify a wooden item that is not allowed you have a choice, have it destroyed, or submit it to be fumigated, this costs roughly $100 and takes a week.

Rule is, don't bring any wooden items unless you want to pay to keep them or they are so cheap you don't mind losing them.

Always declare.


If you can prove whatever wooden article you are bringing in, is either polished wood or treated wood, you will be alright. Otherwise, as others have suggested, you may be (most definitely) will have to get your wooden articles fumigated/radiated to ensure no bugs are coming in. And of course, do not forget to declare any wooden item.

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