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Protocol Guidelines

5.3 Personal baggage – accredited officials and dependants

5.3.1 Aviation screening

In accordance with worldwide practice for airline passengers, the personal baggage of diplomats – both check-in and carry-on – will be screened and/or searched before air travel is permitted. This is to ensure the safety of all air travellers and is not considered a breach of Article 36.2 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

Moreover, airlines may require as a condition of carriage that passengers, including diplomats, and their baggage are screened. Aviation screening at Australian airports is not undertaken by representatives or agents of the Australian Government, but by security personnel acting on behalf of airlines.

Missions concerned about special items (for example, official gifts that have been wrapped for presentation), may wish to notify airline security in advance that these items are being carried. This can be done via an email or letter addressed to the relevant airline.

5.3.2 Unaccompanied personal effects – customs and quarantine processes

Australia is free from many of the major pests and diseases of animals and plants found elsewhere. To maintain Australia's unique environment, all travellers entering the country must adhere to Australia's strict quarantine rules.

All staff should familiarise themselves with the requirements of the Department of Home Affairs and the Department of Agriculture before personal effects, including packing material, are packed and consigned to Australia. Goods will be inspected on arrival and staff will be liable for any costs associated with inspection or fumigation processes. These charges are for specific services, not taxes or duties, and cannot be waived.

5.3.3 Import and export

Heads of missions and posts are asked to ensure staff do not import or export prohibited items.

Items of animal or plant origin that are being brought into Australia must be declared to a Department of Agriculture and Water Resources officer at the point of entry. Some items may need to be inspected, treated or, if necessary, destroyed.

Many of Australia's animal, bird and plant species are rare; some are in danger of becoming extinct. To protect them, their export is strictly controlled and, in some cases, illegal.

Similarly, there are controls on the export of some items deemed important to Australia's cultural heritage. Further information is available on the Department of Communications and the Arts website, by calling 1800 819 461, or via email:

Last Updated: 14 February 2019
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