Australian quarantine laws seem bizarre and confusing to the rest of the world. They are extremely strict about bringing food into the country – including snacks, purees and milks for babies and kids. As laughable as these laws sound, the Aussies take them pretty seriously. Here are the suitcases&strollers travel tips for foods you can (and cannot) bring into Australia.
· In general no food and animal products can be brought into Australia. There are some exceptions to this, but the best policy is always to declare everything you want to bring into the country (no matter how odd or small) on the quarantine form as you enter. If any official asks you, again, declare everything immediately so that you are always upfront and honest. If you are caught trying to “sneak” food into the country you will be questioned and potentially even fined (or worse).
· In general fresh produce is more of a problem than packaged produce. An apple, for instance, will get you into more trouble than a chocolate bar.
· This doesn’t mean you should fly to Australia without any food for babies or kids. Pack everything you need for the flight but, if you can manage it, leave it all on the plane once you land and buy fresh again when you enter Australia. [For travel tips on travel-friendly foods, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
· The authorities are quite understanding about parents’ need to carry baby foods and milk, but the fresh food rule still applies. If you really feel you must travel with some food backup supplies, declare the packaged stuff on your quarantine form but be sure to discard any homemade purees or foods before you clear customs. Packaged baby foods are far more likely to be allowed in and will cause you less problems.
· The same applies for pumped and frozen breastmilk. Don’t get too attached to it as there is a strong possibility it will not clear quarantine and will be confiscated. [For tips on how to fly with baby’s milk, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
· Carry all the snacks, food and milk that you want to bring with you in your hand luggage if possible. Once you have declared it, you will likely find yourself in an extremely long quarantine queue waiting to have your bags checked. It is useful to physically show the authorities at every checkpoint that all you are carrying is baby food and emphasise (politely) that you don’t have anything else to declare. If they can actually see what you are saying, oftentimes they will take pity on exhausted parents and let you skip the queue.
· Australian supermarkets are first world and baby and children’s supplies are generally very easy to find, even for kids that have allergies. If you are concerned about the selection available, pre-plan by researching the produce in the online stores for the major supermarkets Coles and Woolworths so you know what to expect. [For tips on travelling with allergies and dietary requirements, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
· For a specific list of the Australian quarantine rules, visit the official website.