Australia Knife Laws

Australia Knife Laws: Can I Carry A Knife In Australia?

Gun crime has been a major cause of homicide deaths in Australia. Therefore, various strict regulations were elected and helped decrease gun-related crime and homicide significantly.

However, knife crimes began to rise and were responsible for almost half of the homicides between 2006 and 2008. Therefore, strict knife laws were elected and had a positive impact on reducing knife homicides.

So, Australian knife laws prohibit anyone from carrying a knife in public even for self-defense. However, with a reasonable excuse, a person may be allowed to use one.

The article covers the crucial things you should know about Knife laws in Australia. Also, it will help you understand how you can legally carry a knife in public spaces.

Quick Legal Facts

  • Statewide Preemption: No
  • Concealed Carry: No, except if the user has a reasonable excuse
  • Schools: No type of knife is allowed on school grounds either private or public. This regulation includes the public and private institutions of higher education.
  • States with Knife Ordinance: Yes
  • Critical Dimensions: Queensland (less than 3 inches)

List of Illegal Knives In Australia

Some of the knives listed as illegal include:

  1. Ballistic Knife
  2. Flick knife
  3. Concealed knives
    • Bowen knife belt
    • A walking stick containing a sword or other edged blade concealed inside.
  4. Butterfly knife(balisongs)
  5. Push knife
  6. Zombie Knife
  7. Sheath knife
    • Karambits
    • Stilleto knife
    • Opinel knife

Two laws control the possession and use of knives in Australia. The law of the state where you reside and the federal law of Australia. Mostly, state laws control the importation and trading of knives, while state laws control their possession and use.

The law states that: A person must not, without reasonable excuse (proof of which lies on the person), have in his or her custody a knife in a public place or a school.

In Queensland, knives fall under Category M weapons, which are handheld articles capable of causing bodily harm.

Following are the various reported crimes

Feb 2023Man stabbed by his partner in Brisbane
July 2022Lauie Michael Tagaloa was stabbed to death Brisbane train station
December 2022British wonan Emml Lovell Stabbed and killed in North lakes

What Areas Is It Illegal to Own a Knife In Australia?

Five of the six states in Australia share similar gun laws. They include:

  • Victoria
  •  Queensland
  •  South Australia
  • New South Wales
  • Tasmania
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Although Western Australia have own weapon regulations.

Prohibited knives are usually stated as Illegal for use in public spaces, including buildings, courthouses, or public events. Also, possessing a knife in a school or learning institution is illegal.

The same applies to a courthouse or a military institution unless you’re permitted or licensed to possess them.

Are Concealed or Open Knives Illegal in Australia?

Both state and federal laws prohibit the possession of concealed knives. There were changes to the prohibited weapons ACT 1996, on 13 February 2018. Any weapon concealed or disguised as a none weapon will be a prohibited weapon.

All open knives under the list of prohibited weapons are also considered illegal.

Can I Import a Knife to Australia?

Knives listed as illegal to own should not be traded by unlicensed people. Manufacturing, importing, or trading these articles is an offense punishable by fine or imprisonment.

The custom (prohibited) regulations 1956 has a list of all prohibited imports.

However, some states allow importation if only B709 form is included in the shipment. However, if the knife is legal in your state, you can buy it from within without needing paperwork.

Buying a prohibited weapon without a permit can warrant the offender 5 years imprisonment. Also, buying a prohibited weapon from an unlicensed seller can warrant the offender 12 months or AUD 5,500, or both.

Also, advertising prohibited weapons without stating that a permit is required is fined AUD 5,500.

Can I Possess a Replica Knife in Australia?

In most states, owning a replica weapon, including a knife can attract heavy criminal penalties. Whether you’re collecting the replicas for hobby or display, you’ll be required to have a permit.

Queensland and West Australia are the only states where you won’t be required to have a license or permit. However, you must have a valid reason for owning it and keep it hidden when possessed in public.

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What Size Knife is Legal to Carry in Australia?

Unlike in the United Kingdom, where there’s a legal knife length of below 3 inches long, in Australia, there is none.

In most states, any knife length is prohibited unless possessed for a reasonable excuse like hunting or preparing food in public places. You’ll also find other reasonable exceptions as you read on.

However, Queensland legislation permits non-locking utility-type pen knives under 3 inches carried for general utility use.

Penalties and Punishment for Carrying Illegal Knives

According to the NSW under the Summary of Offences Act 1988, section 11C, the maximum penalty for having a knife in a public place or school is 20 penalty units, two years in prison, or both.

20 penalty units attract about AUD 2,200 based on the dollar amount of AUD 110 per unit.

List of Legal Knives

Folding knife or fixed blade that is not under the prohibited weapons is legal to possess. However, using them to scare or harm other people is considered a criminal activity.

Queensland permits a Swiss Army Knife and Pen knife for general utility use. Also, most states allow the use of swords, but according to the Weapons Act 1990, sections 57-59,misuse is punishable.

Different Laws for Different Kinds of Knives

Most knives on the prohibited list are considered illegal in Australia without exceptions. However, butterfly knives are prohibited to own or carry at any time and for any reason.

You also cannot carry a knife in car in Australia without a reasonable excuse or permit. If one is found in the vehicle by authorities, you can be charged with illegal possession.

Fun Facts

Here are some fun facts about Australian knife laws.

  1. Did you know you can’t sell a knife to anyone without confirming if they’re legally allowed to possess it? Also, it’s illegal to sell a knife to a person under 16 years of age.
  2. A police officer has a right to search you without a warrant if they reasonably suspect you of possessing an illegal weapon. Resisting the search is considered and charged as a criminal offense.
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Exceptions in The Knife Law of Australia

Despite the strict law, some exceptions allow an individual to carry a knife in public places. These activities must be lawful and are considered a reasonable excuse. They include;

  • Organized knife exhibition by collectors

Knife collectors who are recognizable by law can possess knives in public during an exhibition.

  • Public food preparation

Food preparation is considered a reasonable excuse to possess a knife in public. However, the knife used must be related to food preparations, like a kitchen knife. Also, knife possession is an exemption for food purposes in a picnic or park.

  • For recreational activities like fishing

A fisherman possessing a knife and using it in fishing activities is considered a reasonable excuse. However, the blade must remain concealed in a public place to and from the fishing location.

  • Genuine religious purposes

Genuine religious purposes, like Sikh Kirpan, are considered a reasonable excuse. However, you cannot possess a knife in school, even for religious purposes.

  • Participation in lawful entertainment or sport

Carrying a knife for a sport or entertainment is a reasonable excuse. However, the person might be required to prove they belong to a sporting club to be allowed.

Also, in West Australia, various people can legally possess and use prohibited weapons. These fall under the list of exceptions and don’t require licensing.

They include:

  • Police officer
  • Security Officer
  • Museum
  • Collector
  • Prison officer
  • Aviation or Maritime security officer
  • Dramatic productions, like theater or TV production

List of Relevant Laws


It’s no doubt Australia has stricter rules on weapons and particularly on knives. On the bright side, they have contributed to a decrease in knife homicides in the country.

Also, since not all states use the same regulations, the resident must be aware of their state laws.

Also, regulations may change over time, like with the state of Tasmania, which recently changed the regulations, to match most states. Therefore, it’s best to keep yourself updated just in case they change.

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