Air travel

This page provides information for people travelling by air, including passengers, air crew and airlines.

Checking in overseas

Australia has a universal visa system. This means that all people travelling to Australia (except Australian citizens) require a valid visa or authority to enter Australia. This ensures that the department is able to facilitate the entry of people on arrival.

Checking in

When you arrive at the check-in counter overseas, you will need to present your travel documents to airline staff. Airline staff will then check your details against immigration data systems to ensure that you have a valid visa or authority to enter Australia.

If you do not hold the correct documentation or visa/authority to enter Australia, the airline may refuse to allow you to board the aeroplane.

Your travel documents may also be checked prior to boarding the plane as an additional border security measure.

Security requirements

Information that helps you understand your security requirements when arriving at Australian airports can be found at the TravelSECURE website.

The pages include information about prohibited items, passenger and baggage screening, and liquids, aerosols and gels (LAGs) restrictions. Travellers will also find recommendations about travelling with children, laptops, medicines and sports equipment.
See: TravelSECURE

Further information:
Travel documents for entry to Australia
Visas & Immigration

Arrival at an Australian airport

This section provides information about what you need to know about immigration clearance requirements when arriving at an Australian airport.

When you arrive at an Australian airport

Everyone who arrives at an Australian airport must present their travel documents and Incoming Passenger Card (IPC) to officers in immigration clearance.
See: Passenger cards

If you are not an Australian citizen, you must hold a valid visa or authority to enter Australia. This must be arranged before travelling to Australia. Special provisions apply to most New Zealand citizens, and to people eligible to transit Australia without a visa.
See:
Travel documents for entry to Australia
Fact sheet 17New Zealanders in Australia
Transit without visa arrangements

If you arrive without a valid travel document, visa or authority to enter Australia, you may be delayed until your identity and claims to enter Australia are checked. If you do not meet immigration clearance requirements, you may be refused entry to Australia. For more details see 'Immigration clearance at the airport' section below.

After you pass through immigration clearance, your baggage can be collected. It may be checked by Customs and Border Protection or Quarantine officers.

For m​ore information about Customs and Border Protection or Quarantine requirements, go to the following websites.

See:
Australian Customs and Border Protection Service
Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service

Immigration clearance at the airport

As part of immigration process, clearance officers inspect your travel documents when you arrive at the airport.
See: Travel documents for entry to Australia

Once your identity and authority to enter Australia are confirmed, the clearance officer formally approves your entry into Australia. Australian Customs and Border Protection Service officers handle immigration clearance processing at Australian airports on behalf of the department. 
Note: The Australian Government no longer provides a Port and Date Stamp in travellers’ passports on departure from Australia without a request. If you need a stamp in your passport, you must ask the Customs officer when you depart Australia.

Stamping only on request complements our move towards electronic processing.

Australia issues electronic visas and electronically records all movements of passengers into and out of Australia. You can access your own International Movement Records over the counter at any Immigration Office or by sending the form below to your nearest Immigration Office.
See: Request for International Movement Records (275KB PDF file)

If there are any issues surrounding your identity or authority to enter Australia, the matter is referred to immigration staff at the airport. Immigration officers may check your travel history, contacts in Australia, or other travel plans.

In some cases, you may be formally interviewed to determine further information about your immigration status. The interview is conducted by immigration staff in immigration offices at the airport, and may be recorded. Non-English speaking travellers may be interviewed with the help of an interpreter.
See: Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS)

If you do not meet immigration clearance requirements, you may be refused entry to Australia and removed immediately.

The Australian Government has implemented security measures at Australian airports. You can find further information at the TravelSECURE website. Its purpose is to help you to navigate the security checks at the airport quickly and easily and to ensure you are prepared for your trip.
See: TravelSECURE

Airlines and air crew

Information and requirements for airlines and air crew.

Australia's entry requirements

A guide for the travel industry containing information on Australia's travel regulations, procedures and carrier responsibilities.

This version is dated October 2008.

Full version

The manual has been split into two smaller documents to aid users with low-capacity Internet connections. For those with high capacity connections, the complete manual can be viewed below.
See: Australia's Entry Requirements - Full version (951KB PDF file)

Contents
  • Australia's Entry Requirements - Part 1 (857KB PDF file)
    Contents
    Introduction
    Who is the guide for?
    Carrier responsibilities
    Travel documents
    Fraudulent documents
     
  • Australia's Entry Requirements - Part 2 (169KB PDF file)
    Visa requirements
    Visa exceptions
    Attachment A
    Attachment B
    Attachment C
    Attachment D
    Attachment E

Advance Passenger Processing System

Australia's Advance Passenger Processing (APP) system is internationally acknowledged as the most advanced border control system operating anywhere today. All international flights to Australia are subject to mandatory APP reporting.

In addition to providing advance reports on passengers, the APP system allows the department to issue passenger boarding directives to airlines in real time if the passenger does not have a valid Australian visa or valid Australian or New Zealand passport. In this way, Australia is able to prevent people arriving in Australia by air when they do not have an authority to travel to Australia.
See:
APP check-in guide
APP website

Advance Passenger Processing check-in guide

The PDF files listed below contain Advance Passenger Processing (APP) check-in guide for service providers.

This version is dated October 2008.

F​ull version

The manual has been split into two smaller documents to aid users with low-capacity Internet connections. For those with high capacity connections, the complete manual can be viewed below.
See: Australia's APP - Full version (886KB PDF file)

Conte​nts
  • Australia's APP - Part 1 (805KB PDF file)
    Contents
    APP overview
    Processing passengers
    APP responses
     
  • Australia's APP - Part 2 (160KB PDF file)
    Cancelling an APP transaction
    APP system overrides
    System down procedures
    Attachment A
    Attachment B
    Attachment C
    Attachment D
    Attachment E
    Attachment F
    Attachment G

Technical and op​erating instructions

To assist travel agents and airline officer staff, an ETA System Operating Manual, Training Tutorial, and ETA Bulletins are available on this website.
See:
Australia's ETAS Operating Manual - January 2015 (1.6MB PDF file)

Infringement notices

Why infringement notices are issued

Under Australian law, international carriers entering Australia from overseas must comply with certain obligations in relation to their vessels and persons on board their vessels. It is the responsibility of the carrier to ensure that all passengers and crew are reported and authorised to travel to Australia.

There are two main requirements for carriers to meet:

  1. providing advance passenger information about all passengers and crew, using the Advance Passenger Processing (APP) system, and
  2. ensuring that all passengers have authority to travel to Australia.

Carriers may elect to pay a fine instead of prosecution for failing to meet these requirements.

Failure to report using APP system

Where a carrier fails to report passengers and crew using the approved APP system, they may be liable, upon conviction for an offence, to a fine of $10 200. As an alternative to prosecution, carriers may elect to pay a prescribed penalty totalling $1700 for each breach of the reporting requirements, as specified in an APP infringement notice.

APP infringement notices may be issued for breaches occurring on or after Wednesday, 1 July 2009.

The following links provide details of the operation of this regime.
See:
Introduction of Infringement Notices (71KB PDF file)
Fact Sheet (90KB PDF file)
Questions and Answers (87KB PDF file)

Carriage of inadequately documented passengers

Where a carrier brings an inadequately documented passenger or an undocumented passenger to Australia, they may be liable, upon conviction, to a fine of $10 000. As an alternative to prosecution, carriers may elect to pay a prescribed penalty of $5000 for an offence (an infringement notice).

The department maintains this policy to deter carriers from failing to confirm passengers' immigration status before they board a plane to come to Australia. Any such oversight on the part of a carrier has scope to seriously compromise Australia’s border security.

The infringement regime is a key component of a range of initiatives undertaken by the department to promote Australia’s border integrity.

Assisting airlines to avoid infringement notices for carriage of inadequately documented passengers

Airlines are provided with access to systems such as the APP system to assist airlines in checking that all passengers hold the appropriate authority to travel to Australia. The introduction of APP has seen a significant reduction in the number of infringement notices issued to airlines for the carriage of inadequately documented passengers on an annual basis.

The Entry Operations Centre provides a 24 hour, 7 days a week help desk facility and is able to provide airline staff with information about the immigration status of individuals intending to travel to Australia. The Entry Operations Centre is also able to assist airlines with APP.

Australian Airline Liaison Officers (ALOs) are strategically located at key hub international airports with direct flights to Australia and/or last ports of embarkation to assist airlines in resolving issues with inadequately documented passengers intending to travel to Australia.

These initiatives have contributed to a significant reduction in infringement notices issued over recent years, from around 4500 notices issued in 2000–01 to around 660 notices issued in 2007–08.

When a notice is issued for the carriage of an inadequately documented passenger

Departmental officers apply the infringement rule strictly in relation to airlines who fail to ensure that a passenger is properly documented.

In determining whether an infringement notice should be served, departmental airport staff require evidence that the airline has acted with due care and in good faith when allowing the passenger to board. This includes examining departmental systems to determine what has occurred at check-in in regards to checks conducted by the airline, for example APP checks.

Infringement notices served on airlines may be withdrawn by a delegated officer if it is established that the carrier, acting with due care and in good faith, had reason to believe that the passenger was adequately documented. 

Visas for air crew

Who should register for a Crew Travel Authority (CTA)

Crew operating commercial flights into Australia should be registered with a Crew Travel Authority (CTA), except for holders of Australian or New Zealand passports.

This includes:

  • crew operating commercial passenger flights
  • crew operating chartered passenger flights
  • crew operating freight or cargo flights.

Persons operating private flights into Australia are not eligible to hold a CTA. However, they will be required to obtain a visa to enter Australia. Information on other types of visas can be found on the department's Visa Wizard.
See: Visa Wizard

The APP website also provides a facility for carriers to check if crew hold a CTA. It can also provide information on the validity of a CTA.

Registration of crew is usually completed by the carrier personnel or crewing areas.

How can crew obtain a CTA

If your airline has access to the Advance Passenger Processing (APP) Website then CTAs can be completed easily through their website.
See: APP System

The APP website also provides a facility for carriers to check if crew hold a CTA and can also provide information on the validity of a CTA. Registration of crew is usually completed by the carrier personnel or crewing areas. If carriers require additional staff to be registered to access the APP website they should send an email to the APP mailbox.
Email: appwebsite@immi.gov.au

If your carrier does not have access to the APP website then crew may be registered with a CTA through the APP Helpdesk. The helpdesk can be contacted through the APP mailbox.
Email: appwebsite@immi.gov.au

As a CTA is an electronic authority, there is no evidence of the CTA registration in a passport.

Document requirements

After registering with a CTA, crew are still required to hold the appropriate documentation to facilitate processing on arrival. The document requirements will vary depending on the position a crew member holds.

Operational crew

Operational crew (entering as a crew member and departing as crew or a passenger) must hold:

  • a valid passport
  • an Airline Identity Card
    and
  • for freight only – should be issued with a CTA and be listed on the General Declaration Form signed on behalf of the air carrier.

Positioning crew

Positioning crew (entering as a passenger and departing as a member of the crew within 5 days) must hold:

  • a valid passport
    and
  • a letter from the employer certifying that the person is an aircrew member, setting out the purpose of travel and the arrangements for the person to leave Australia.

Aircraft Safety Inspectors

Aircraft Safety Inspectors, who are treated in the same manner as crew when engaged on inspection duties, must present:

  • a valid passport
  • either a valid government identity document showing that the person is employed by a foreign government
    or
  • an ICAO Safety Inspector Certificate.

Foreign military personnel travelling by air

Information for foreign military personnel travelling by air is available.
See: Travel documents for entry to Australia

Further information

Further information is available regarding entry requirements for people travelling to Australia by air.
See: Travel documents for entry to Australia

Electronic Travel Authority

The Electronic Travel Authority is an electronically-stored authority for travel to Australia for a short-term tourist or business entry.

All travellers to Australia, other than Australian and New Zealand citizens, are legally required to hold a valid visa to travel to Australia.

Australia's Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) system is the world's most advanced and streamlined travel authorisation system.

An innovative enhancement to ETA arrangements allows a traveller to apply for an ETA over the internet.

ETAs are issued within seconds of being requested through computer links between the department, travel agents, airlines and specialist service providers around the world.
See:
Fact Sheet 55 The Electronic Travel Authority
Electronic Travel Authority (Subclass 601)

Technical and operating instructions

To assist travel agents and airlines, the ETA System Operating Manua​l is available on this website.

Related information

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