Drug importation penalties - importing drugs

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This article was written by Michelle Makela - Legal Practice Director

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (State and Federal Industrial Tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

Likely Penalties for Drug Importation


The offences of importing or exporting a border controlled drug is a Commonwealth offence and the penalties that can be imposed are found in the Commonwealth Crimes Act. Given that the vast majority of offenders sentenced for drug importation receive a jail sentence, we have not included details of other penalties that the court may (although unlikely) impose.

Maximum Penalties for a Drug Importation Charge

The penalties for importing or exporting border controlled drugs increase depending on the quantity of the drug imported. There are 3 different quantity ranges under the Criminal Code Act 1995. They are:

  • Importing or exporting a border controlled drug (s 307.3)
  • Importing or exporting marketable quantities of a border controlled drug (s 307.2)
  • Importing or exporting commercial quantities of a border controlled drug (s 307.1)

The table below outlines the marketable and commercial quantity ranges for each of the commonly prosecuted drugs.

The table below outlines the maximum penalty for each offence

Sentencing Statistics

Jail sentences imposed for all offenders charged with importing or exporting a marketable quantity of the border control drugs cocaine and heroin:

Jail sentences imposed for all offenders charged with importing or exporting a commercial quantity of the border control drugs cocaine and heroin. There are only 4 recorded cases.

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