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Access to documents

Under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) you can seek access to documents held by us, including policy documents and personal information, subject to exemptions necessary to protect essential public or private interests.

Release of your own information

If you want access to any of your own information, you need to contact us first. We can provide copies of some documents without the need for special requests. We can provide a copy of the application you submitted to us and copies of letters already sent to you, such as decision letters or return original documents you have provided to us.

Your original documents such as police checks, marriage certificates and academic records submitted by you can also be returned to you without having to make a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. If your request relates to such a document you can request it by using Form 424A. You can post the form or contact your nearest departmental office.

We also have a number of different you can access your own information. If you are seeking:

  • evidence of your Australian Citizenship, please complete: Form 119 Application for evidence of Australian citizenship
  • evidence of your residence status in Australia please complete: Form 164 Application for evidence of resident status in Australia
  • your superannuation status, please complete: Form 1194 Certification of Immigration Status and/or request to cancel a Temporary Resident visa.

Note: If your request doesn't relate solely to your own personal information or is information we cannot otherwise provide to you, you might be asked to lodge an application to begin the freedom of information request process.

Movement records

Arrival and departure records of travellers to and from Australia dating from 1981 are contained within the Movements Reconstruction database. You can access your own International Movement Records over the counter at any of our offices or by sending Form 1359 to your nearest Immigration Office.

Documents in the open access period

The Archives Act 1983 (Archives Act) gives the National Archives of Australia the responsibility for preserving and conserving the Commonwealth's archives.

Both the FOI Act and the Archives Act provide the public with access to Commonwealth records. The main difference between the Acts is the age of the records accessible. Under the Archives Act, the public can access Commonwealth records under the open access period. The open access period is being reduced from 30 years to 20 years, over a 10 year period commencing on 1 November 2010. From this date the open access period for Cabinet notebooks will also be gradually reduced from 50 years to 30 years.

If you are looking for a document in the open access period you should contact the National Archives of Australia (NAA). The NAA also holds all passenger cards and movements records for the open access period.

Last reviewed Wednesday 12 March 2014

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