Customs & Border Protection

If you are an arriving passengers to Cairns from overseas, you are advised to be aware of the following border processes:

Immigration and Border Protection

The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service is part of the Commonwealth Department of Immigration and Border Protection. The Service manages the security and integrity of Australia’s borders and works closely with other government agencies, in particular the Australian Federal Police and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry (DAFF) , to detect and deter unlawful movement of goods and people across the border.

In preparation for your arrival into Cairns please ensure you have your passport, completed Incoming Passenger Card and airline ticket available for inspection. If you are unsure what to declare to Customs and Border Protection, tick ‘yes’ to the question or ask a Customs and Border Protection officer who can assist you in determining what goods mus tbe declared.

A Guide For Travellers

The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service has a guide for international travellers to familiarise themselves with Australia’s prohibited goods laws, as well as the Tourism Refund Scheme (TRS) and personal duty-free concessions.

Visit Know Before You Go to view this guide in one of 14 languages (English, Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese).

Some Australian and New Zealand ePassport holders, aged 18 years or over, can choose to use SmartGate to self-process through passport control. SmartGate uses the data in the ePassport and face recognition technology to perform the customs and immigration checks that are usually conducted by a Customs and Border Protection officer. Travellers will still need to complete an Incoming Passenger Card prior to using SmartGate. For more information on SmartGate please visit

Click here to link to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service website

Quarantine and Declarations

Live animals and plants, plant material, animal products and some food from overseas could introduce some of the world’s most serious pests and diseases into Australia, devastating our valuable agriculture and tourism industries and unique environment.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry (DAFF), along with other jurisdictions, industry and the community, plays a vital role in maintaining Australia’s clean and wholesome food supply—at home and abroad. Australia’s biosecurity system protects our human, animal and plant health by reducing the risk of unwanted pests and diseases arriving in the country. Everyone benefits from a strong biosecurity system so everyone has a role to play.

You will be given an Incoming Passenger Card before you arrive in Australia. This is a legal document.

You must tick YES on your card to declare if you are carrying certain food, plant material or animal products. You may take these declared items with you to the clearance point where they will be assessed by a departmental officer.

Alternatively, you may dispose of food, plant material or animal products on arrival in the quarantine bins located in the airport terminal.

On arrival your baggage may be assessed by x-ray, detector dog or inspected by a biosecurity officer. If you fail to declare or dispose of any biosecurity risk items, or make a false declaration:

  • you will be caught
  • you could be fined $340 on-the-spot, or
  • you could be prosecuted, fined more than $66000 and risk 10 years jail and a criminal record.
  • You will not be penalised if ALL items are declared, even if they are not allowed into Australia.

Items that you should declare include:

  • Food
  • Dairy and egg products
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Plant material
  • Live animals and animal products

For further information on what you must declare and what you cannot bring into Australia please visit the Department of Agriculture (DAFF) website.