Confused about customs...arriving and leaving SYD

Old Feb 6th, 2007, 12:34 PM
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Confused about customs...arriving and leaving SYD

Generally speaking, what is okay and not okay to bring to Sydney for a 2 week vacation? I've heard people saying that there are certain things that domestic travelers (within the USA) take all the time but when arriving in Australia, it would be confiscated.

Same for leaving...an acquaintance told me very briefly about being careful about buying things there and taking them back. She said customs sometimes confiscates things that are made in other countries thinking that they may be knock-offs...even if it is yours and you brought it with you from the beginning?! I have no idea if this is true...

She also said as a rule of thumb, not to bring any food on board with you.

When I skimmed the Australian customs gov site it named medications and vitamins too. So does that mean I can bring vitamins and over the counter medicines if I just declare them?

Sunscreens either? Anything else? I really am so confused...
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 01:04 PM
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It is more a case of making sure you declare everything. All food, including that packet of tic tacs in your bag, must be declared on your arrival form. Customs will then decide if it is able to come into the country or not.

Regarding knock offs I think it is more a case of if you have three dozen 'Prada' bags in your suitcase - well then they're going to be just a little bit suspicious. Your own personal bag I don't believe would be a problem at all.

To be on the safe side have your pharmacist put a prescription label on all your meds and vitamins even if they are only over the counter.

I believe that anything made of timber will also have to be declared and again customs will make the decision of whether it is allowed into the country or not.

The form you are required to fill in for entry into Australia is very easy to understand and very easy to complete. Just complete it truthfully and you will have no problems at all and there's absolutely no need to fret about this.

I have always found our customs and immigration officials to be extremely friendly, helpful and courteous and have sometimes bought in candy etc which I have always declared and they have always inspected it and said yes you can have it or sorry no you can't.

Maybe you should have a look at the Australian site a little more carefully but I feel you really are worrying way to much about this - it just doesn't need to be an issue at all.

Hope you have a great time in Oz.
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 02:01 PM
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Thanks, Stormbird. Great to hear that. I've never traveled outside the country so thanks for clarifying that for me...and for reassuring me that there's nothing to worry about, especially since they are wonderful people.
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 03:02 PM
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Sweetpea
Please have a careful look at www.aqis.gov.au.
Also be aware that on arrival in Australia all baggage is screened. As has already been said, If in doubt declare it.I have to also say that the inspection people are definately the most pleasant of the various authorities around the world who you will find at airports. But then they have never found any fruit in my bags!
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 04:04 PM
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Definitely no beef jerky, no sandwiches. They confiscate all of that. Twice I've had no problem bringing in approx 20 kg of candy (twizzlers especially) and American cereals. I did declare them, however.

Liz
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 04:09 PM
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Liz -

20 kg of candy? And here I thought I had a sweet tooth...

BTW - Looking forward to trying out those PODS next month in OZ - I think it was you who told me about them, yes?
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 04:19 PM
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Yum, Pods! I love all of them. The Bounty flavor is probably my favorite.

Yes, 20 kg of American treats both times I've been to Sydney. I can't believe I got through customs both times. The agents thought I was a bit loony. My Aussie friends/hosts love twizzlers, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, gardettos, lots of stuff. But especially twizzlers! And they're heavy!

Where are you going in Oz? I am jealous!

Liz
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 06:01 PM
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Thanks you guys! Vervid, I looked at the "what you can't bring" section on the website you gave...so helpful!

Okay, so guess I'm not bringing any fruits or snacks (except for twizzlers The website said processed foods so I'm assuming that granola bars, crackers, pretzels, bagels, all not allowed huh. Because "processed foods" was listed under "must declare" and possibility of fines or quarantine.

That's so interesting TimLiz, that you could bring all that candy! Has anyone else brought any kinds of other snacks that were okay to bring in? I'm a snack person and don't like to starve while flying Thanks you guys!

Hmm what are pods?
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 06:15 PM
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sweetpea4-- Try to find pods in Oz. They are hard to explain, but a candy bar filling in a cookie crust. Yum!

http://www.kiwireviews.co.nz/index.php?review=613


You may still bring in things under the "declare" list, but you may have to show the items to customs agents. They should wave you through if you just have crackers, pretzels, etc. just like they waved me through with my 20kg of twizzlers gifts for the two hungry Aussies waiting for me right past the customs door.

Have a great trip!

Liz
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 07:21 PM
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Liz -

We're going back to WA. Five nights Albany, three nights Pemberton, four nights Margaret River & two nights Perth.

I've go PODS on my shopping list (among other things).

sweetpea - We've never had a problem with processed food Customs - just follow the guidelines and declare everything.

When in doubt DECLARE.

We've brought in food items like pretzels, nuts, cookies and ground coffee.

If you're taking hiking boots, they may want to look at those too. I always give mine a good scrub before I pack and they take a cursory look and wave us through.

Don't care for Twizzlers myself; I'm more of a Red Vines person.

Have a good trip.
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 01:03 AM
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Anything with egg in it will be confiscated. All meat products and fresh fruit will be confiscated. Haven't seen those beagles for awhile, they used to go around sniffing your bags for food and drugs. Pay attention to the forms eg wooden products must be shown to Customs. Declare, declare, declare.
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 07:13 AM
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Greetings sweetpea4

We have been making annual holiday trips to Oz from here in the states the last 5 years. Never have a problem with customs. We have taken vitamins, candy for gifts, some medicines, snack crackers etc.

The customs agents in Oz are very friendly and it takes only a few moments to go through the "declare" line.

We can't say it enough - declare it if you are not sure. Better to have them confiscate something than to bring harm to that environment. Great harm can come to eco systems because of importing the wrong little item.

And actually since we know how fast the declare item is - I would use that line even if I didn't have to declare something - just chat with the agents a bit about what we have - just to make sure....

The first year we went down under - I had been exposed to strep throat so our Dr gave me some antibiotics just in case I got sick. I wasn't sure about bringing it into Oz so I actually called one of the numbers listed on the Australian govt web site. I was on the phone for less than 5 minutes, only got transferred one time and recieved all the info I needed. Turns out I didn't need to call, but it was very reassuring that I could get an answer so quickly. Of course I have to appologize to our Aussie friends as I know if they called customs in the states it would be an all day affair.....

Cheers

Steve
next trip down under Sept 24 '07
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 08:13 AM
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Gosh, thanks everyone! It's good to know your experiences and I will make sure I know what I packed and declare it. Great tip about the lines.

I always take stuff like airborne, natural remedies, vitamins, and tylenol on trips just in case. I'll try to see if I can get a pharmacist to write that up for me. But I'm thinking lots of people take those on without getting some kind of prescription.

Oh, does that also mean I shouldn't take fruit, other foods on the plane when I'm leaving?

One more thing anything that I do buy in Australia, should I keep that in my carry-on or is it okay to put in my checked luggage? Does it depend what it is?

Steve, I hear you about the US wait time, especially when you can't talk to a real person!
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 10:47 AM
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Sweetpea4,
Please don't bring any fruit or vegetables into Australia. We have wonderful, fresh varieties here.

One of our challenges is to keep it disease free. That's why we have strict quarantine procedures to prevent the importation of anything that might bring diseases to threaten it. Just like humans, fruit can carry diseases that aren't apparent & may take some time to incubate.

Some of our quarantine restrictions may seem silly (and I've had the odd grizzle myself), but we're an island and, thankfully, relatively disease free, which is how we'd like to keep it.

That's why our customs forms ask, for example, whether you've been on a farm in the boots/shoes you're bringing in. To stop foot & mouth and other stock & animal diseases that can wipe out thousands of animals. It only takes a few minutes to fumigate - but some people still don't "get it" and don't declare ... thinking they're clever ....

Some fool brought fish into Australia 30 odd years ago because he liked it in his native country. It's called the European Carp here and has infested our rivers & just about completely wiped out several of our fish species.




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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 01:00 PM
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In the last few years we've taken both prescription and over-the-counter medications in and out of Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, China, the US and Canada without sparking the slightest interest on the part of Customs staff in any of those countries.

sweeetpea4, if you need vitamins (I assume this is because of a dietary deficiency problem) you should have no problem bringing them with you, but you can of course buy them all over Australia. Most OTC medications here have different names - for example as far as I know Tylenol is not sold in Australia.

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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 03:55 PM
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sweetpea -

Regarding bringing items back to the US -

I've come into the US from several countries with many purchases over the years, and have never had a problem in Customs. Hawaii and CA have strict regulations regarding agricultural products; other states may as well, so keep that in mind.

I see no reason to keep your purchases in your carry on - I never do - just fill out the Customs form, read all the fine print and abide by the limits and/or declare any excess, and you'll be fine.

If you're planning a big shop, you might want to check out the US Customs limits beforehand - here's the site (don't let those unsmiling burly guys on the web site scare you off):

http://www.cbp.gov/

I always travel with a supply of medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, and I've never even been looked at askance.

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