Australian Border Force

The Australian Government announced changes to the immigration and border protection portfolio in relation to future border protection arrangements.

From 1 July 2015, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service will be consolidated into a single Department of Immigration and Border Protection. At this time, the Australian Border Force, a single frontline operational border agency, will be established within the department.

The Australian Border Force will draw together the operational border, investigations, compliance, detention and enforcement functions of the two existing agencies. Policy, regulatory and corporate functions will combine within the broader department.

For more information about the changes, read the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection's speech announcing the new arrangements on 9 May 2014.

Information for visa and citizenship applicants

These changes do not have any immediate effect on visa or citizenship applications or processes. Your existing application or any new application will continue to be processed in the same way.

The department will continue to assess applications according to our service standards.

You should continue to use the contact details and application numbers provided to you by the department or your case officer. The contact details for the department have not changed. There are no immediate changes to service centre locations.

Australian Border Force enabling legislation

This information is for domestic and international partner agencies, private sector partners, clients, industry and the public.

Purpose of legislation

Legislation has been introduced to the Australian Parliament to establish the Australian Border Force as a single frontline operational border control and enforcement entity of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection charged with enforcing customs and immigration laws and protecting Australia's borders. Subject to the passage of legislation, the Australian Border Force will commence on 1 July 2015.

At this time, the functions of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service will be formally integrated into a single department (the Department of Immigration and Border Protection) and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service will cease to exist.

Introduction of legislation to Parliament

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Hon. Peter Dutton MP, introduced the ABF enabling legislation to Parliament on 25 February 2015. This legislative package consists of:

  • the Australian Border Force Bill 2015 (ABF Bill)
  • the Customs and Other Legislation Amendment (Australian Border Force) Bill (ABF Amendment Bill).

Overview of legislative changes

The Australian Government is committed to enhancing Australia's border protection arrangements and has announced significant reforms to strengthen them. In May 2014, the Government announced the integration of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Australia Customs and Border Protection Service into a single department and the establishment of the Australian Border Force from 1 July 2015. The introduction of the ABF Bill and ABF Amendment Bill to Parliament represents a significant step towards that milestone.

The cornerstone of the ABF Bill is the creation of the Australian Border Force (the ABF); an operational border control and enforcement entity within the Department of Immigration and Border Protection charged with enforcing customs and immigration laws and protecting Australia's borders.

The ABF will be led by the Australian Border Force Commissioner, who will be Australia's most senior border law enforcement officer.

The ABF Commissioner will have a dual role as Comptroller-General of Customs with responsibility for enforcement of customs law and collection of border-related revenue. The ABF Commissioner will lead a highly trained and flexibly deployed workforce that is responsible for protecting Australia's borders through the enforcement of both customs and immigration laws.

Critical to the delivery of strong borders is public and partner confidence in the agencies and people charged with protecting them. The ABF Bill introduces new employment, integrity and information protection requirements for Department of Immigration and Border Protection officers including those assigned to the ABF.

These requirements are intended to ensure officers exercising the significant powers entrusted to them operate with the highest standards of integrity and professionalism.

Impacts on your engagement with us

At a day-to-day level, engagement with the Australian Government on customs, immigration and citizenship matters is not expected to be significantly different. All current services and systems will remain in place.

You will however notice some visual changes: our corporate branding will change, and a new uniform continuum will be introduced from 1 July 2015.

There are no material changes to the laws that relate to immigration, citizenship, customs or border protection associated with this reform. The ABF Bill and ABF Amendment Bill are largely administrative and impact the internal administration and organisational arrangements of the integrated Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Benefits for traders and travellers

Travellers, traders and migrants will be able to deal with a single department in relation to customs, immigration and citizenship matters.

By strengthening our ability to protect the border and identify and target those people or entities doing the wrong thing, we are also able to better facilitate the large majority of legitimate trade, and support the efficient movement of travellers and migrants that do the right thing across the border.

Further information

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