The true origins of Kava span hundreds of years. 
It is a plant that originates from Pacific Island countries. Like Vanuatu, Fiji, and Micronesia.
Kava Australia

In Australia, the history of Kava is much shorter. It was first introduced into the country in the 1980s. Sources state that Fijian and Tongan missionaries and leaders brought Kava to Australia.

Many emigrated families from Vanuatu, Fiji and other Melanesian and Polynesian countries have brought their Kava ceremonies and drinking traditions with them.

With the South Pacific tourism boom, Australian’s became more aware of kava. Many Australia tourists trialed kava and brought it back with them.

As kava gained popularity kava bars and kava retail business developed. Kava was also brought to the Indigenous communities as a substitute for alcohol.

However, reports of abuse in the Indigenous communities caused the federal government to have concerns about its abuse. The Australian Federal Government banned the importation and sale of kava in 2007 because of this concern.

Kava Australia

The Current State of Kava in Australia

In January 2022, the Australian Federal Government changed regulations and laws about kava.

The Office of Drug Controls who regulate Kava, recently changed the status of kava. Whilst previously being listed as a narcotic, it is now scheduled as a food. We have listed below what that now means for Australian kava drinkers.


Current laws of usage and distribution

The Office of Drug Control have changed the way kava is viewed by authorities by changing its status from a controlled substance to a food. However, only under the following conditions:

  • It must have been imported through the new importation laws. (Check to the right of this).
  • It can only be sold in powder, root form or extract using an aqueous extraction method.
  • It must be packaged under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
  • It must have the country of origin labelled on it
  • Kava packaging must say “Use in Moderation” and “May cause drowsiness”.

These changes mean that importers and on sellers are legally allowed to sell kava if they have gone through the Import law requirements.

Current Kava Australia import law

As mentioned, The Office of Drug Control oversees the import of Kava Australia. The following are the current import regulations and laws:

  •  Passengers entering Australia can bring a maximum of 4kg of Kava.
  •  Importers of kava must lodge a Kava Import Permit with the ODC stating proposed manifest and arrival date.
  • Importers cannot proceed with the import until they receive written notification of approval.
  • All imports are to be reviewed by Australian Border Force and Australian Quarantine and approved prior to release.
  • All imports must state country of origin. If they are opackaged retail ready they must abide by packaging laws.

Changes to import regulations should benefit the Kava community

The changes to kava made by the Office of Drug Control are being monitored by many government agencies. A review of the impact of these changes by Australia government bodies is ongoing.

Moreover, for Australian kava drinkers, this means kava is now readily available. However, the changes that the Office of Drug Control has made to kava do not pertain to the following:

  • Noble kava varieties
  • Microbial testing

Kava drinkers must be aware that there is no guarantee they are buying Noble variety kava. It is important to always look for retailer that supply the noble variety kava certification with their products.

We highly recommend Australia Kava Shop’s product line. They supply certification for all their kava:

Is Kava Legal to drink in Australia ?

Yes Kava is legal to drink if Australia. However you or whoever has supplied you the kava must have brought it in under the Australia kava importation guidelines (4kg personal importation). You cannot have purchased it commercially.

Can I buy Kava in Australia ?

Yes you can now buy kava in Australia. Reputable online sellers in clude: Australia Kava Shop

Is Kava dangerous to drink ?

Ongoing studies over the past 20 years have proven that kava when consumed in moderation has limited to no detrimental health effects