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Quarantine naughty list?

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Earlier this year I took a chance and posted some dry leaf specimens to myself from overseas. Quarantine intercepted the package, deemed it an unacceptable biosafety risk and destroyed it. I received a polite but firm letter from them breaking the sad news.

Fast forward 3 months and I get a call from Fedex. They want to know what's in a package addressed to me (same receiving address as used for the above case), from the USA, contents undeclared and value declared as $1. I'm expecting some documents and a journal and I told them as much. They seemed satisified, told me they'd write this on the description then allow it through to customs.

This sounded somewhat peculiar that they'd take the precaution in this instance for a single package... which makes me wonder, did my previous transgression put me on a quarantine naughty list?

Does this sound realistic or paranoid? Some of you must have had plant material intercepted before, perhaps you've had a similar experience?

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The theory sounds plausible, but I don't know the inner-workings of Australian Customs.

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It could just be a coincidence however my experience of Aussie customs is a mixed bag. I used to buy Bush Tucker Seeds on E bay on a regular basis from Aussie to the UK. Most of the time they arrived with no incident in the little jiffy type bags. After a while the nice Aussie customs :slap: would slap on a big orange "ID RECORDED" sticker on the envelopes even though all my stuff was perfectly legal, almost every time I bought more seeds.

Since my arrival in New Zealand I've bought just one packet of seed from Aussie and they stuck on the sticker again... :blink:

Incidentally on my way over here via Dubai customs, no problem apart from one scary female staff member quizzing me on a spyglass in my backpack. I get into :uzi: Melbourne customs and some little weasel of a customs bloke "confiscated" a pair of folding scissors :BANGHEAD2: the blades were only 3 centimeters long if that... They missed the large metal blade on my trowel that was packed away with my metal detector in the hold tho lols.

I get into the Kiwi customs and they just waved me through. I had a 3 month tourist visa and they asked me how long did I want to stay here so I said "6 months", they stamped my passport for 6!!! Insane!!!

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I've had plenty of seed packs confiscated & destroyed even ones that are listed on ICON as OK to import without a permit. The packages are destroyed due to an inspector deciding for one reason or another that they are not permitted entry. Having said this, I order alot of seeds from overseas & the majority of them get through no worries.

If the plant material that was intercepted was a clear cut illegal import then I would say that it is likely that you are on a targeted list of some sort. On the flipside the person sending things your way could be on a register of some kind or it could be as simple as the person sending the paperwork just neglected to declare what was in the package.

Who can really say? Best bet is to cover your ass if need be.

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I am on a completely different continent but I have received some packages from AU which had the ID Recorded on it. Why would they have that sticker on it if the seeds are being exported and all 100% legal?

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There would definitely most likely be a quarantine naughty list. There are probably different levels of alarms that go off depending on what was previously intercepted/ stolen by customs. I have had seeds confiscated that were legal(maybe they were contaminated).

They probably use chimps to sort the mail, they pick out the seeds they like to eat and let the others through.

Edited by anon
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Fast forward 3 months and I get a call from Fedex. They want to know what's in a package addressed to me (same receiving address as used for the above case), from the USA, contents undeclared and value declared as $1. I'm expecting some documents and a journal and I told them as much. They seemed satisified, told me they'd write this on the description then allow it through to customs.

A call from Fedex is hardly an indication of some sort of blacklisting?

If you were on the list, wouldn't the call be from customs etc?

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You can send documents in an envelope overseas without recording your id. If the envelope gets too thick it is deemed as a parcel and your id must be recorded.

If you declare anything other then documents your id will be recoded and the sticker placed on the package. Not sure if the receiving country would ever bother getting back to Australian authorities if the package contained a prohibited import. I guess it would depend on how high on their hit list it was.

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Fast forward 3 months and I get a call from Fedex. They want to know what's in a package addressed to me (same receiving address as used for the above case), from the USA, contents undeclared and value declared as $1. I'm expecting some documents and a journal and I told them as much. They seemed satisified, told me they'd write this on the description then allow it through to customs.

Unfortunately if your package contains anything other than documents and or a journal you have just made a false declaration which is an offence both under the customs act and the new biosecurity act (would have been the same under the old quarantine act) so unless your 100% sure of what is being sent its better to say i have no idea. The package should be opened & inspected but if you had no knowledge of the contents its much harder to get a conviction for seeds etc.

This does not apply to proscribed drugs & the like as that would be an absolute offence.

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After a while the nice Aussie customs :slap: would slap on a big orange "ID RECORDED" sticker on the envelopes even though all my stuff was perfectly legal, almost every time I bought more seeds.

From memory that's got nothing to do with you as a reciever but rather that Australia post has recorded the ID of the sender. Think it's a legal requirement for them to do on any parcels heading overseas.

Edited by Snowfella
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Ah we are supposed to pay a small packet shipping rate for anything other than a letter in a plain mailing envelope. I know they can destroy it or send it back but it is not illegal as a package which is light enough doesn't need a customs declaration here. We are talking in the range of up to maybe 20g (including the weight of the envelope). I am not sure on the exact values but you get the point.

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well im sure im on a naughty list somewhere and i have since bought things from overseas no plants or seed but i've never had any phone calls or letters about anything nothings ever even looked like its been opened or tampered with

i dont know why they would call you and ask what is in the package if it was something to do with customs they would open it

the only reason they would ask whats in it is because they have it opened right in front of them and they want to trick you into saying its something it isnt

i was asked what i had been buying and the customs person i talked to had everything right in front of him opened

i know he did cos i could hear him rustling through the boxes over the phone pulling things out and reading off the receipts or whatever papers were in any of the boxes

even over the phone it was very obvious he had everything there in front of him as he questioned me

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Just to be clear, I haven't attempted to import anything illegal. The seizure was a collection of dried leaf samples for DNA vouchers.

The parcel I'm expecting was from a publisher.

I'm not concerned about customs, rather that my previous seizure may have created a flag.

If others have been sprung for importing seeds etc and continued to receive things then that suggests that I'm being paranoid.

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Is it illegal to import plants into Australia? I received a letter that said i did not meet Australian quarantine requirements...

If i was to be on some 'naughty list' would they be tracking my ebay account, paypal account? Or would they be tracking my name and address.

just curious, i do not encourage anyone to break our laws.

Edited by gr33ntea

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I would edit out the last part of the first sentence as it incriminates you
It is illegal to import plants without taking the necessary steps in order to get them in legally
GoT summarised it nicely:

There is a list of plants and seeds that we are aloud to bring in. Seeds are not to much of a problem and you can get them through without doing all of the paperwork but plants are a different matter. Just to lodge an application for a import permit is $85.00 if done on line or $150.00 done manually. The lowest level permit lodged and assessed is going to cost $125.00 for one item and another$40.00 for every other item and that is before you even start to bring it into the country. There is the inspection charges on arrival and a whole lot of other charges that I never got to as by this time I new it was a waste of time.

]They charge at rates that would make a lawyer blush. Cheapest rate $40.0 for the first half hour and $40.00 for every quarter of an hour after that. And then you have some other charge witch is $90.00 first half hour and the $90.00 for ever quarter after that.
I have heard that it would cost around $2000.00 to import a plant legally if all of the paper work is in place.

From the four people I know of that have been visited by customs/quarantine, three were because of eBay purchases and one was because of a snitch.

When they did visit them, they had all their eBay, PayPal and emails and pretty much looked for the plants that they had imported and took them and all surrounding plants because they could've been "infected".

They would have everything listed under the name it was imported by and the address. I'm guessing that they aren't stupid and can link different names to the same address, but I'm unsure.

A friend of a friend who had received many letters from quarantine saying that it didn't meet the requirments, ended up getting a letter from them saying if he tried to import anything again (that was "illegal" to import) that he would be facing a $66,000 fine or a specific term of imprisonment.

http://apps.daff.gov.au/icon32/asp/ex_querycontent.asp <----- that's a link to the Import conditions search, anything you want to check out if it's legal to import or if you have to fill out a form or whatever, you can find out through there. Just search it up and click the appropriate usage for the imported material.

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Ridiculous, everything is a weed to these people.
No doubt the purpose of the expensive importation requirements is to discourage anyone from importing it.

Thanks for that bit of information Sabry, it was very helpful.

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A single simple seizure does not put you on the naughty list. In the days of ebay [or as AQIS likes to call it "weeds by mail"] they have thousands such seizures every day. In fact, in the last few months they changed their handling of such seizures from giving you the option of return to 'this item has been destroyed'. The combination of staff cuts and a meteoric increase in seed imports would have overloaded their system so detroying is now the default option [very annoying when they misread the label though].

The reason fedex called you is simple. They have their own customs clearance agents who have to complete the customs forms for EVERY shipment that arrives. if the sender didn't bother writing it on there because it is just a document then fedex needs to ask. As the clearance is done all electronically, the agent actually doesn't see your parcel and hence can't guess. This has nothing to dow with aqis or being naughty.

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