Import or export objectionable goods
This guide details what objectionable goods are and explains that permission is needed to import or export them.
Most classified films, computer games or publications can be imported or exported. Content that has been classified RC (Refused Classification) under the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 is generally considered to be a prohibited import or export. You can search for a title to find out the classification of a film, computer game or publication.
Objectionable goods under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 and the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1958 ('the Regulations') are prohibited imports and exports. These types of goods may be seized by the Australian Border Force.
If a product has not been classified in Australia you should consider whether it may be an objectionable good.
Objectionable goods are publications and any other goods that:
- describe, depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be imported, or
- describe or depict in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person who is, or who appears to be, a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not), or
- promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence, or
- promote or incite the misuse of a drug specified in Schedule 4 of the Regulations, or
- advocate the doing of a terrorist act.
Apply for permission to import or export
In strictly limited circumstances, the Director of the Classification Board may grant permission to import or export objectionable goods.
You can apply to the Director of the Classification Board for permission to import or export objectionable goods in writing.
When deciding whether to grant permission, the Director must consider:
- the purposes for which the goods are to be imported, and
- the extent to which the person to whom any permission to import the goods would be granted conducts activities of an artistic or educational, or of a cultural or scientific, nature to which the goods relate, and
- the reputation of the person requesting permission, both generally and in relation to an activity referred to in that paragraph, and
- the ability of that person to meet conditions that may be imposed in relation to the goods, and
- any other relevant matters.
Conditions on imports may include restrictions or prohibitions on the custody, use, reproduction, disposal, destruction or exportation of the goods, or requirements for accounting for the goods.
Conditions on exports may include conditions or restrictions on the exportation of the goods, such as methods of transportation and measures to ensure the security of the items.
Your request for permission must adequately address each of the matters outlined above and be accompanied by relevant supporting documentary evidence. Personal use or entertainment is generally not considered a sufficient reason for granting permission.
Questions about importing and exporting
If you are unsure whether goods you wish to import or export are likely to be deemed objectionable please visit Australian Border Force.
To make an enquiry about importing objectionable goods, please contact us.
There is no fee for an application for permission to import or export objectionable goods.
Send the application
A decision will generally be made within 20 working days. We email you a notice of the decision.
Appeal the decision
You may apply for a review of the decision to grant or refuse permission to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), subject to certain conditions. You may also request that the Director state the reasons for the decision under the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975.