Tobacco imports illegal by mail
The Australian Government has made changes to the way tobacco can be imported into Australia. It is now illegal import tobacco by mail.
Most tobacco products are now ‘prohibited imports’. This includes cigarettes, molasses tobacco and loose-leaf tobacco.
To import tobacco products for both commercial and personal use, you will need a permit issued by the Australian Border Force (ABF) before your tobacco arrives in Australia.
Import permits are issued subject to a number of permit conditions. One condition is that tobacco products (other than cigars, chewing tobacco and snuff intended for oral use up to 1.5kg) cannot be imported through the mail.
Travellers arriving in Australia on an international voyage do not need a permit to bring tobacco with them.
You must pay all the duties on tobacco products at the border
Importers must pay all the duty and taxes for tobacco when your shipment arrives at the border. It is no longer possible to import tobacco and store it in licensed warehouses before paying duty and taxes.
Why the Australian Government made these changes?
Illicit tobacco undermines public health measures that aim to reduce the prevalence and uptake of smoking. Illicit tobacco also bypasses industry standards of manufacturing, plain packaging and health labelling.
Sub-standard processes can pose risks to human health and the environment, as well as biosecurity risks to Australia.
The Australian Border Force (ABF) has detected poisons such as formaldehyde, and traces of rat faeces inside illicit tobacco products.
Organised criminals are actively involved in the illicit tobacco market. By smuggling tobacco and evading taxes, organised crime is able to channel profits into other illegal activities
Travellers arriving in Australia
As a traveller, you can bring tobacco products with you into Australia if you’re aged 18 years or older.
You do not need a permit to bring in tobacco products into Australia as a traveller.
You’re allowed to bring in duty-free:
- one unopen packet of up to 25 cigarettes or 25 grams of other tobacco products; and
- one open packet of cigarettes.
If you bring in tobacco you must:
- declare any tobacco you have with you above the duty-free allowance
- pay all relevant duty and taxes that apply on arrival into Australia.
If you bring more tobacco than the duty-free allowance, you will need to pay duty on all of your tobacco, not just the amount above the allowance.
ABF officers will tell you how much duty you must pay when you arrive in Australia. The amount of duty you pay depends on the amount of tobacco you are bringing in.
If you do not declare the tobacco you have with you above the duty-free allowance, you might be prosecuted or have your visa cancelled.
You need a permit issued by the ABF to import certain tobacco products.
You have imported tobacco products into Australia if:
- you purchased, ordered or arranged someone to bring or send to your tobacco products to Australia from overseas
- someone has sent you tobacco products from overseas, even if you didn’t order or ask for them.
Imported tobacco can arrive in Australia by air or sea cargo.
Note: The ABF may seize tobacco that arrives by international mail. Exemptions apply for cigars, chewing tobacco and snuffs intended for oral use up to 1.5kg.
Tobacco products that need a permit
You will need a permit to import the following tobacco products:
- shisha/molasses tobacco
- loose leaf tobacco for use in pipes or roll-your-own cigarettes
- ‘heat-not-burn’ tobacco products, including heat sticks and IQOS.
You do not need a permit to import:
- chewing tobacco and snuffs intended for oral use under 1.5kg (to import more than 1.5kg you will need permission from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission)
- any tobacco in unaccompanied personal effects provided that you:
- are 18 years of age or older
- declare any tobacco product; and
- pay duty and taxes that apply on arrival into Australia