7 October 2020

NOTE: The Department recognises that travel restrictions arising from COVID-19 has impacted the ability to obtain kava for personal use. Unfortunately temporary measures to allow the import of kava by mail are not possible as such channels would require legislative changes and significant consultation with Australian State and Territory Governments. With the prioritised focus on COVID-19 such consultations are not available at this time.

Updates on proposed changes to the import of kava

The Australian Government’s Budget 2020-21 included a measure to increase consumer access to kava due to be implemented by December 2021 (the kava pilot) - see Increasing consumer access to kava.

Further updates on consultation for the kava pilot will be available at: Consultation: Kava Pilot Phase 2: Allowing the commercial importation of kava

Please note that the restrictions on kava importation outlined below are currently in place and enforceable.

Restrictions on the importation of kava into Australia

Kava (Piper mysticum) is a prohibited import substance in Australia. As of 26 June 2007, permits for the use of kava by individuals are no longer issued.

This change was in response to concerns that the abuse of kava was contributing to negative health and social outcomes in some indigenous communities.

Travelling with kava

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

However, restrictions in Western Australia and the Northern Territory mean that kava cannot be brought into these jurisdictions.

Personal import of kava

The personal import of kava is not permitted.

Commercial importation of kava

Commercial importation of kava can only be undertaken for the following purposes:

  • A finished product that is registered with the Therapeutic Goods Administration
  • Kava raw material:
    • to manufacture a finished product that is registered with the Therapeutic Goods Administration through a licensed manufacturer
    • for scientific purposes

People looking to undertake commercial/scientific importation should contact the Drug Control Section to discuss their proposal: DCS@health.gov.au

Restrictions on the importation of khat into Australia

Khat (Catha edulis) is a prohibited import substance in Australia. As of 1 December 2013, permits for the use of khat by individuals for recreational/cultural purposes are no longer issued.

There are currently no plans by the Australian Government to amend the regulations to allow the importation of khat for personal use.

Travelling with khat

Travelling to Australia with khat is not permitted.

Health effects of khat

Khat use has a similar effect to caffeine and in high doses can be compared to the effects of amphetamine. Effects include:

  • mild euphoria and hyperactivity
  • cardiovascular symptoms such as hypertension and tachycardia
  • depressed appetite

Growing evidence links chronic khat use with significant health problems, such as impaired liver function and gastro-intestinal damage.

The use of khat combined with the consumption of high sugar content drinks is also known to contribute to poor dental health and diabetes.