View Full Version : Bringing a uke into Australia

01-05-2012, 09:29 PM
I am traveling into Australia on Saturday and bringing my ukulele with me. I have been reading up on the restrictions on wood and quarantine regulations and I was wondering, has anyone had a problem bringing a uke into Australia or New Zealand?

I can't leave it at home as I am already out of town.

01-05-2012, 10:43 PM
I cant speak for New Zealand, but I brought back some timber items which I decalred at customs, as the timber was lacquered, there was no problem. Unfinished timber is what they will be dubious about. I suggest you declare it when you arrive, and you'll get through customs quicker cos all the others from the plane will be clogging up the exits!!!

And dont forget to say g'day :)

Cheers, Tony

and I'll be up in Sydney for the week, so if you see a crazy person on a vita uke somewhere, come and say HI

Liam Ryan
01-06-2012, 12:14 AM
Declare it. Provided there's no bugs, bark, seeds or other nasties you'll be fine.

01-06-2012, 01:30 AM
As long as you declare it, it should be fine.

I entered with a Uke I bought in Thailand into Australia with zero issues. I even got to bring in a wooden police baton that I picked up on the ground in Thailand into Australia LOL.

01-06-2012, 03:01 AM
New Zealand has very strict biosecurity laws but as long as you declare things they're usually very helpful. But failing to declare can bring an instant fine (I forgot isn't an acceptable excuse, read the paperwork). I brought a uke in last Feb. without any problems, in fact I don't even think they looked at it, but they examined my fishing gear with a fine toothed comb and knocked a few rocks that were stuck in vibram soled boots out into biosecurity hazard bags. Invasive species have caused horrible damage in NZ and that's the reason for the biosecurity. By contrast, our procedures are voluntary and that's why we end up with things like medfly outbreaks in Cal. I don't know anything about Oz though. Have great fun. cheers, g2

01-06-2012, 08:44 AM
While I can't comment on the rules (as many here more knowledgable than I have), I will say that the customs screening I received on a recent visit to Australia was the most thorough I've ever experienced. So if you have something, they're gonna find it, so declaring anything that might be at issue is the way to go.

01-06-2012, 12:27 PM
Some airports have rental lockers. I was able to use one in Switzerland to store some cardboard boxes that we used for our back packs. It enabled us to use the boxes again for the return trip with the back packs and trekking poles as checked luggage. You might be able to store or check a uke so it doesn't have to go on the trip. Then, get a new NZ uke while your there! See if you current departure airport has storage you can use. Of course, that will only work if you are returning to that same airport on the way home.


Moore Bettah Ukuleles
01-06-2012, 01:54 PM
Please do a little online research on the Lacey Act as it concerns musical instruments before you decide. If that doesn't scare the beejeezus out of you you might want to heed the warning of many custom guitar builders: When traveling bring you beater and leave the expensive one at home. Declaration is a must, but beyond that, if you get a sharp customs agent he may be looking for documentation verifying the species and origin of the wood and animal products contained within.
You may very well get it through just fine, but at least now you've been warned as well.

01-06-2012, 01:54 PM
Great information all above, I will travel/move to Sydney in the end of Jan. Checked with my colleague who used to live and study in Sudney for 10 years and just moved back, he doesn't think that there is any problem if you a)declare it b)its a used instrument with obvious woodwork and finish. I will remember to write "this used instrument is not a raw material of wood and no bug infection" to make sure the custom has no concern about it. thanks!

01-06-2012, 02:13 PM
Thanks for the advice everyone. I feel more assured the Kamaka will make it through okay tomorrow. I did mail home my koa iPhone case, pen and koa ukulele pendant to be safe. I'm sure they would have let them through but this way the uke is my only item.

01-06-2012, 03:33 PM
OK I live in Australia and have traveled to New Zealand by plane each time I take my uke as hand luggage and declare that it's a wooden instrument each time.

I open the case every now and then have a bit of a laugh with them as they think it's funny that I'm traveling with a uke.

I have never had any problems doing it this way.