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Importation of Steroids

Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555

In Australia, the importation of performance enhancing drugs over the critical quantity carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment and/or a fine of 1,000 penalty units. If the amount is below the critical quantity the maximum penalty is the greater of three times the value of the goods, or 1,000 penalty units.

The offence of importation of steroids:

The offence of importing ‘tier 1 goods’ as per section 233BAA of the Customs Act only applies if quantity of the goods exceed what is referred to as the ‘critical quantity’. For anabolic and androgenic steroids, Schedule 7, Part 1 of the Customs Regulations 2015 sets out the critical quantity as 20 grams.

If the amount does not exceed the critical quantity then the offence is contained under section 233 of the Customs Act, which is a lesser offence. This is to be read alongside regulation 5H of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations. This prohibits goods under the critical quantity to be imported unless written permission is granted by an authorised officer under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989. This permission may be granted on certain conditions or unconditionally.

What actions might constitute importation of steroids?

  • There is no formal definition of importation in the Act, however, from a commonsense definition, importation could be read to be any action that introduced into the country some item or object that was previously outside of the country. According to the Australian Customs Service, the most common means of importation include post, air passengers and air cargo.
  • If the amount does not exceed the critical quantity, then the relevant substances are under 3C, Schedule 8 of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations. This Schedule also sets out the requirements to be met to import performance enhancing substances under the critical quantity. Failure to comply with these requirements also give rise to a criminal offence.

What the Police must prove:

To convict you of an offence under this section, the police must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

  • You intentionally imported the goods;
  • That you knew, or were reckless to the fact that the goods were tier 1 goods; and
  • Importation of the goods:
    • Were prohibited by the regulations; or
    • Required prior approval from a specified authority which was not obtained at the time of the importation.

Possible Defences to Importation of Steroids

It is a complete defence to the charge of importing steroids under the critical quantity if written permission was obtained from an authorised officer under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 in accordance to the regulations.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

Under Commonwealth law, an offence under section 233BAA is an indictable offence. This means that it will be dealt with in the District Court, however, it may be dealt with in the Local Court with the consent of both the prosecutor and the defendant. If the matter is finalised in the District Court, this will give rise to harsher penalties.

An offence under section 233, that is, below the critical quantity is a summary offence and will be finalised in the Local Court.


The form seems straight forward and can seem to be an attractive alternative to attending court in person. However using them can be a very bad idea.

It is important to be wary of Police that convey to you that they you can simply complete the written notice instead of attending court. While technically true, it is not advisable. Not only does it reflect poorly on you but you can be convicted and sentenced in your absence with little chance to advocate your case. Read More >

where to next?

If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

Why Choose Armstrong Legal?

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