5 April 2022

On 11 October 2019, the Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, announced that the Australian Government is stepping up its commitment to the Pacific by launching the kava pilot to increase stronger cultural and economic ties between Australia and Pacific Island nations.

The purpose of the kava pilot is to:

  • Provide greater access to kava in Australia without compromising public health and safety
  • Understand the social, cultural, economic and health effects of increased availability of kava
  • Respect state and territory governments' regulatory role
  • Increase trade opportunities

The first phase of the kava pilot was implemented in December 2019. This allows incoming passengers 18 years and over to bring up to 4kg of kava (powder) into Australia in their accompanied baggage.

The second phase of the kava pilot will allow the commercial importation of kava for food use with no limit on quantity was implemented on 1 December 2021.

Monitoring and evaluating the effects of both phases of the kava pilot will continue over a two-year period from 1 December 2021.

Import of kava for personal use

There is currently an exemption that allows incoming passengers (18 years or over) to bring up to 4kg of kava (powder) into Australia in their accompanied baggage.

Note that restrictions in the Northern Territory mean that kava may not be brought into this jurisdiction.

Import of kava for food use

The importation of kava, for food use, is subject to Regulation 5F of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 (PI Regulations) and is prohibited unless the importer holds a permit issued by the Drug Control Section (DCS). A permit is required for each consignment that is imported.

Persons must meet certain criteria, outlined in this document, when applying for permission to import. You should not import kava before obtaining permission or the Australian Border Force may seize the goods. Permits cannot be issued after the goods have arrived in Australia.

Applications to import kava are for commercial use only.

Kava food product must be imported as air or sea cargo and cannot be imported:

  • Through the international mail; or
  • In the baggage of an air or sea traveller.

Note: Imported kava must also comply with Australia's biosecurity requirements. Forms of kava permitted are kava powder and kava beverages (using cold water only) and must be packed in clean and new packaging, and free from biosecurity risk material. Refer to Kava for human consumption BICON case for more information. Once biosecurity requirements have been met, it is the importer's responsibility to comply with Australian food standards and the Imported Food Control Act 1992.

Refer to the Guidance for Completing applications for a permit to import kava for food use for more information on applying for import permission.

Refer to the Kava–Import and labelling requirements for more information on import and labelling requirements.

Refer to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment kava webpage for more information on kava, and refer to the Imported Food Notice 01-22 which provides information on labelling requirements for imported kava.

Refer to the Food Standards Variation for more information on kava as a food.

Application forms may be found at this location.

Import of kava for medical and scientific purposes

The importation of kava for medical and/or scientific purposes is subject to Regulation 5 of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 and is prohibited unless the importer holds a licence and permit issued by the Drug Control Section (DCS). A permit is required for each consignment that is imported whereas licenses are issued annually. Information on obtaining a licence is available separately from the DCS website.

Refer to the Guidance for Completing applications for a permit to import kava for medical and scientific purposes for more information on applying for import permission.