Why is there a question relating to pornography on the Incoming Passenger Card?

The Department has always had the power to question passengers and search goods, including passengers' personal effects, arriving from overseas.         

  • The question on the Incoming Passenger card is intended to give a traveller the opportunity to declare adult material if they are uncertain as to whether their material would be deemed prohibited.

​Declaring the goods will minimise any action that would be considered against someone possessing such goods, unless it involves child pornography

What if I’m embarrassed to say what I have in my bag? Departmental officers are trained to apply tact and discretion in their dealings with passengers. Passengers are subject to discreet intervention, however any examination by the Department may involve the discovery of personal or sensitive possessions.

What happens if I tick “yes”?

A Departmental officer may ask questions or explain regulations to assist in determining whether the material is subject to the regulations. Ticking yes does not mean the Department will move to a 100% examination of all passenger belongings, including data stored on electronic devices. The inclusion of the word pornography is a prompt for the passenger and indicates that some items in the wider category may be restricted. They are encouraged to tick “yes” when in doubt.

Do I have to declare my holiday photos or copies of Playboy?

No, the Department has no interest in legal adult material, and it may be freely imported. Only material considered Objectionable is subject to the control. This is material that would be Refused Classification under the Classification Code. Objectionable material also includes terrorism related material and material which instructs in or incites drug use, crime or violence.

What kinds of pornography are prohibited?

The standard for determining what is objectionable mirrors the Refused Classification standard under the National Classification Guidelines.


  • Objectionable material is material that is highly offensive, and includes child pornography, bestiality, explicit sexual violence, and graphic degradation. For example, X-Rated films and Adult magazines that are legal to buy in Australia do not fall into this category.

Who determines what material is prohibited?

Assessment is undertaken in accordance with the National Classification Guidelines, by officers who have been specially trained by the Classification Operations Branch of the Attorney-General’s Department.

What rights do I have to challenge a Seizure from the Department of Home Affairs?

If you believe the Department has seized goods that would be legal to own in Australia, you may make a claim for the return of the goods. In these cases the Department will seek a second opinion from the Classification Operations Branch of the Attorney General’s Department. If the goods are still deemed prohibited, you may seek to have a Magistrate make a decision as to whether the goods are prohibited.

Information on prohibited items including pornography is available to the public through the Department of Home Affairs website information on classification is available and a link to the National Classification Guidelines are available at the Classification website.