The Australian Border Force (ABF) has seen an increase in the amount of kava being sent through the mail, since regular international flights stopped arriving in Australia in March.
Kava is a plant traditionally used for therapeutic and recreational purposes by certain cultures, however importing it through the post or by air cargo without a permit is prohibited.
ABF officers at Australia’s international mail centres have made a significant increase in kava detections since the Australian border was closed. In January and February 2020, 58 detections of kava were made at the Australian border, weighing a total of 67 kg. In July and August, that number increased to 739 detections, weighing a total of 2.2 tonnes.
Importing Kava through the post is prohibited without a permit. However adults are permitted to bring up to 4 kg of kava root or dried kava in their baggage when flying into Australia or arriving by ship. Taking kava into the Northern Territory or Western Australia is not allowed regardless of how it’s imported.
ABF Port Operations Commander Leo Lahey said the rules on importing kava have not changed as a result of COVID-19.
“When regular international flights stopped coming into Australia, the ABF started to see an increase in the amount of kava sent through the post,” Commander Lahey said.
“People need to be aware if they try to send any amount of kava through the mail, without a permit, it will be seized and destroyed.”
Anyone importing kava without the relevant permission or licence could also face a fine of up to $525,000 or 10 years in prison.