Buying wildlife products overseas
For most Australian travellers, shopping for gifts and souvenirs is part of their overseas holiday experience. But if you unwittingly purchase souvenirs derived from threatened animals or plants, you could be breaking the law by bringing them back to Australia.
If the animal or plant products you buy are not sourced from a legal, regulated source, they could be illegal, and you could be contributing to the demise of some of the world's endangered species.
In addition to approval from the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (Customs) and the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS), some wildlife products require permits from the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
If you intend to buy wildlife products while overseas, contact DEWHA before you leave to find out if you need a permit. The Environment website includes detailed information about the requirements for taking wildlife products into and out of Australia. Without the correct permit, your product will be seized by Customs and stiff penalties could apply.
Wildlife trade is diverse, and can involve live or non-live animals and plants and their products. Some products requiring permits before they can be legally brought back to Australia include:
- clams, corals, seashells
- exotic leather goods, including boots, keyrings, and wallets
- musical instruments
- ivory, tortoise shell
- complementary medicines such as those with tiger, monkey, bear, or certain plant ingredients.
Every postal article entering Australia is also screened by Customs. Illegal imports will be discovered and penalties applied. Purchases over the internet are not exempt from regulation.
The illegal importation of live animals and birds and their eggs poses the most serious threat to Australia's unique flora and fauna.
Australian wildlife is subject to stringent export controls. The commercial export of live native animals such as birds, reptiles, butterflies and the eggs of these species, is generally prohibited. So if you plan to take Australian Wildlife products overseas with you, check with DEWHA before you travel.
You can get more information about the world's endangered species from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
CITES aims to ensure that international trade in wildlife does not threaten the survival of wildlife, and protects more than 30,000 species of animals and plants worldwide. Australia, along with 172 other countries, is a signatory to CITES.