Bag searches in a shop

Shops will often display signs outside their stores saying you may be asked to show the contents of your bags before leaving the store. This is common in Australia.

The store sign must be clearly seen by customers before they enter the shop. If you don’t agree with the store policy then you should not enter the store. 

If asked, open your bag at the checkout so the operator can see inside. If you have items that you have bought from another store, make sure you have the receipt available.

Rules the traders must follow

There are some rules the trader must follow:

  • they can look in your bag but must not touch the contents or put their hand in your bag
  • a shop is private property, not a public place, so they can politely ask you to leave and refuse to let you buy anything if you don’t let them look in your bag
  • they can call the police if they believe you have stolen goods from the store.

Bag searches are not covered by the Australian Consumer Law. 

If you want to dispute a store’s claims, you should get legal advice

For more advice, contact NT Consumer Affairs.

Last updated: 27 June 2017