Entering Australia

27 June 2016

Coming to Australia with medicines and medical devices

There are rules about bringing medicines and medical devices into Australia. Many medicines and medical devices can be brought with you into Australia as long as they are for your personal use. Some require a permit and others cannot be brought with you at all.

International visitors and people coming back from holidays can bring in most medicines and medical devices under the traveller's exemption.

It is against the law to bring medicines and medical devices into Australia to give to someone else.

There are also special rules for athletes and sporting teams.

Traveller's Exemption

The traveller's exemption allows people entering Australia to carry their medicines and medical devices with them for their use or the use of an immediate family member.
Follow these simple rules to make sure you don't get caught up at the border:

  1. Find out whether your medicine needs a permit by seeing if it's listed on the substances subject to import controls page. If the medicine you are bringing in is on the page (e.g. testosterone, DHEA), you must apply for an Inbound Travellers Permit. Contact DCS@tga.gov.au for information on how to apply.
  2. Don't bring medicines or medical devices into Australia for anyone other than yourself or an immediate family member.
  3. For prescription medicines, bring the prescription with you or have a letter from your doctor that outlines what you are taking and how much you are bringing with you.
  4. Keep the original packaging for your medicines and medical devices intact so they can be easily identified.
  5. Do not bring more than a 3 month supply with you.
  6. Check what medicines need to be declared at the border at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website. You must declare any medicines which may be subject to abuse or misuse. This includes steroids, strong pain medicines, cannabis and other restricted medicines.
  7. Injections that contain material of human or animal origin, such as growth hormone, require special permission to bring into the country. An Australian doctor must organise access for you through the Special Access Scheme. You do not need permission to bring insulin with you for personal use.

Herbal and traditional medicine products

Be careful when bringing herbal and traditional medicines with you to Australia. The Australian Border Force need to be able to identify what the substances are, so that they can determine if the products are subject to any import restrictions. Additionally they may contain ingredients from endangered plants which are subject to import controls and require a permit. This includes Hoodia and weight loss products derived from Hoodia. Find out more at the Department of the Environment website.

Biological materials

Any medicine or medical device that contains a biological - material derived from living cells and tissues – are subject to quarantine procedures and must be declared at the border. Learn more at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website

Sports teams and athletes

Sports teams and athletes must comply with special rules when visiting Australia to participate in a national or international sporting event.

Visiting sports teams and athletes should prepare for their visit to Australia well in advance. Organisers should follow these general rules:

  • Prepare a list of medicines and medical devices participants are bringing with them. This list must be in English and include the medicines and their strengths.
  • Maintain a record of the medicines and their use while the team is in Australia. This list must be produced if requested by an Australian Border Force officer.
  • Check the list of substances which are subject to import controls - there are some additional restrictions only for athletes.
  • Medicines brought by the team must not be given or sold to anyone who is not an official athlete or member of the sports team.
  • Medicines and medical devices brought by the team must not be used by anyone who is not an official athlete or member of the sports team.
  • Any unused medicines or devices must be destroyed when leaving or taken  with you when you leave Australia.
  • An official member of the visiting team must be responsible for any medicines and medical devices and how they are used.