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Bringing a border controlled drug into Australia is a serious crime that is prosecuted by federal authorities

The importation of illicit drugs into Australia is a federal crime. Travelers entering Australia are entitled to bring a three month supply of prescription drugs with them, provided they have the prescription with them. With that exception, unless an importer has received the government’s permission to import drugs, it is a crime to bring certain drugs into Australia.

The agencies primarily responsible for enforcing importation laws are the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. Federal importation cases are prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP).

The CDPP usually seeks severe penalties for importation offences. Any person who is accused or suspected of a drug importation offence should obtain legal advice.

This article will help you understand the offence of importing drugs into Australia.


Section 307 of the Criminal Code Act makes it an offence to import a border controlled drug. Section 300.2 of the Criminal Code Act defines “import” as “bring into Australia.” The origin of the drug makes no difference.

Import occurs when the drugs are landed or brought within the limits of a port. Bringing a drug within the three mile territorial limit of Australian waters does not constitute importing the drug.

Border controlled drugs

Border controlled drugs are the drugs that are listed in section 314 of the Criminal Code Act. They are drugs that cannot be brought into Australia except in the limited circumstances described above. Most drugs that would be considered “illicit” drugs are border controlled drugs.

When new “designer” drugs gain popularity, they are usually added to the list of border controlled drugs. Federal law was recently streamlined to make it easier to add new drugs to the list of border controlled drugs.

Drug quantities

It is illegal to bring any amount of a border controlled drug into Australia. Certain quantities have been established for border control drugs that trigger harsher importation penalties. Importing a marketable quantity results in a longer maximum sentence, while importing a commercial quantity exposes the accused to the most severe maximum sentence.

Here are some common examples of border controlled drugs and the drug quantities that trigger penalties:


Marketable Quantity (grams)

Commercial Quantity (kilograms)













MDMA (Ecstasy)




In addition to substantial fines, the following maximum periods of incarceration apply to the importation of border controlled drugs:

  • Commercial quantity - life
  • Marketable quantity - 25 years
  • Lesser quantities, if importation is with intent to sell - 10 years
  • Lesser quantities, if importation is for personal use - 2 years

If the importation involves a marketable quantity of a drug, the law presumes that the accused intended to sell the imported drugs. The accused has the opportunity to persuade the court or jury that the importation was for personal use, not for sale. If the accused succeeds in raising that defence, the accused can be convicted of importing for personal use, but that offence carries only a 2 year maximum rather than a 25 year maximum.

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Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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