14. Visits by senior foreign dignitaries: airport facilitation
The Australian Government's current airport facilitation arrangements for visiting senior foreign dignitaries were introduced on 1 September 2008. They are designed to be consistent with those obligations the Australian Government accepts under international law to protect persons with privileges and immunities. The arrangements take into account the Government's ongoing responsibilities for the safety and security of the travelling public and for the protection of the Australian environment and economy.
Airport facilitation is available at 11 designated Australian international and domestic airports. These are all the principal State and Territory capital city airports (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, Darwin and Canberra) plus Cairns, Gold Coast and Alice Springs.
Who is entitled to airport facilitation arrangements?
- Exempt foreign dignitaries (section 14.1 or section 14.2)
The Australian Government will exempt from aviation security screening and Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) border processing at designated airports the following very senior dignitaries:
- the head of state of a foreign country and his/her accompanying spouse and children
- the head of the executive government of a foreign country and his/her accompanying spouse and children
- the minister of the executive government of a foreign country responsible for foreign affairs, and his/her accompanying spouse and children.
- Foreign Dignitaries: Exceptional Circumstances (Section 14.3) Other senior foreign dignitaries may be exempted, in exceptional circumstances only, from aviation security screening and/or CIQ border processing at designated airports.
- Non-exempt foreign dignitaries (section 14.4)
Certain foreign dignitaries who will not be exempt from undergoing aviation security screening and CIQ border processing may, subject to local exigencies, be facilitated through screening and/or CIQ processes at designated Australian airports. For guidance, these non-exempt foreign dignitaries may include:
- National government ministers, State or provincial governors and elected politicians;
- Senior officials of permanent head rank;
- Certain other high ranking VIPs (such as high officers of the United Nations);
- Leaders of high level official delegations, attending either bilateral or multilateral conferences in Australia;
- Heads of Canberra-based missions, on first arrival and final departure, and
- Other senior foreign dignitaries, subject to case-by-case consideration (normally as part of an official visit program).
Note: While the Australian Government may approve exemption from aviation screening of certain senior foreign dignitaries, individual airlines may require aviation screening as a condition of carriage. The Government cannot override an airline's decision. Aviation security screening of an otherwise exempt dignitary will need to be undertaken where it is required by an airline.
What do you need to do to seek airport facilitation?
- When approval for airport facilitation involves an exempt foreign dignitary:
- if travelling to Australia under the auspices of a formal Guest of Government invitation, go to Section 14.2: Prime Minister and Cabinet - CERHOS for facilitation arrangements,
- if not travelling to Australia as a formal Guest of Government, go to section 14.1: Arrangements for Exempt Foreign Dignitaries, and complete Appendix 19.
- When approval for airport facilitation involves a non-exempt foreign dignitary, go to section 14.4, and also complete Appendix 19.
- When an exceptional exemption approval is being sought for a very senior foreign dignitary, go to section 14.3: Arrangements for Very Senior Foreign Dignitaries Not Otherwise Exempt, and complete Appendix 20.
- For visits by parliamentary delegations which are subject to a Guest of the Australian Parliament invitation, go to section 14.5: Visits by Parliamentary Delegations (Guest of the Australian Parliament). If a parliamentary delegation visit is not subject to a Guest of the Australian Parliament invitation, go to section 14.4, and complete Appendix 19.
Frequently asked questions: what do you need to know?
- Airport VIP rooms: go to section14.6.
- Aviation Security Screening arrangements: go to section 14.7.
- Accompanying security personnel: go to section 14.8.
- Important aviation security measures, Customs (ACS), Quarantine (AQIS) and health consideration applicable to all foreign dignitaries: go to section 14.9.
- Diplomatic clearances for aircraft and ships: go to section 14.10.
Do you need to contact us?
Go to section 14.11 for:
- Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Protocol Branch)
- Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (Ceremonial and Hospitality Branch – CERHOS)
- Customs and Border Protection Service (ACS)
- Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC)
- Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS)
- Australian Federal Police (AFP)
- Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Local Government – Office of Transport Security (OTS)
The Australian Government has granted an exemption from aviation security screening and CIQ border processing for both official and private visits, including transit visits, to:
- the head of state of a foreign country and his/her accompanying spouse and children
- the head of the executive government of a foreign country and his/her accompanying spouse and children, and
- the minister of the executive government of a foreign country responsible for foreign affairs, and his/her accompanying spouse and children
Such exemptions will apply when at least two weeks notification is provided to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Protocol Branch) via a formal diplomatic note, or via the accredited Australian mission or post in the visiting dignitary's country of origin. For Guest of Government visits, go to section 14.2 (Prime Minister and Cabinet - Ceremonial and Hospitality Branch - CERHOS - to manage).
Formal notification must have attached a completed Application Form (Appendix 19) which provides the following information about the foreign dignitary and any members of his/her party: full name, date of birth, nationality, arrival/departure flight and time details, passport numbers and expiry dates and the names and contact numbers of the official(s) who will be meeting/farewelling the visitor(s).
While Protocol Branch (or CERHOS where relevant) will make every reasonable effort, airport facilitation arrangements, including appropriate recognition of the dignitary's exempt status may not be fully available if insufficient advance notice is provided. This is because of lead times required to notify relevant agencies of the impending travel. The relevant Australian agencies must have sufficient time for coordinating arrangements necessary to ensure the smooth passage of the foreign dignitary through Australian airports.
Missions and international organisations should note that such exemptions will apply only to the individual person and his/her carry-on baggage. An exemption from aviation security screening does not extend to aides, members of entourages or members of the Diplomatic or Consular Corps assisting dignitaries during arrival or departure formalities. The carry-on baggage of an exempt foreign dignitary must be clearly marked. The current practice that all checked or hold baggage undergo aviation security screening will not change. It should also be noted that the exemption being provided is from the aviation security screening process, not Australia's security requirements. Important information on aviation security measures for carry-on baggage and customs, quarantine and health considerations are outlined in Section 14.9 below.
It is important to note that airlines have their own policy on the carriage of unscreened passengers and that these policies will not be overridden by such exemptions. Aviation security screening of an otherwise exempt dignitary will need to be undertaken where it is required by an airline. In these circumstances, wherever possible, private screening will be offered to the dignitary.
Once a notification request with the completed Application Form has been received by DFAT (or CERHOS), the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government (Infrastructure) will be advised and will contact the nominated airline(s) to establish whether they will carry the exempt foreign dignitary unscreened. The decision of the relevant airline(s) about whether or not agreement is given to carry the exempt foreign dignitary unscreened will be notified by CERHOS or DFAT to the relevant foreign mission as soon as possible prior to the foreign dignitary's arrival in Australia.
The attention of missions and international organisations is also drawn to the following important advice concerning the escort of senior dignitaries between international and domestic terminals:
Where the dignitary is making an immediate connection from an international to a domestic terminal, or from a domestic to an international terminal, the responsible embassy or consulate should make an officer available to escort the dignitary from one terminal to the other, unless the dignitary has specifically advised this is not necessary. This is particularly important in some locations (eg: Sydney, Brisbane) where the international and domestic terminals are separately located. Only where there is no consular post in the relevant State or Territory capital city will DFAT consider other arrangements.
Private or Transit Visits
Where Heads of State or Government are visiting Australia in a private capacity or in transit, CERHOS offers assistance with the following courtesies at the international airport/port of entry:
- on arrival: meeting at port of entry, assistance with entry formalities, and transport from airport to first destination (usually accommodation)
- on departure: transport to airport, and assistance with airline check-in and departure formalities.
The Australian Government meets the cost of transport (limited to a maximum of two vehicles) to and from the international airport only.
It is DFAT's responsibility to manage domestic airport facilitation arrangements for Heads of State and Heads of Government on private visits.
When a foreign minister or equivalent is not visiting as a GoG, DFAT will manage arrangements for international and domestic airport facilitation. This does not include transport from or to the airport, which is the responsibility of the foreign minister's own government representatives.
The Ceremonial and Hospitality Branch (CERHOS) of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet manages official Guest of Government (GoG) visits and the international arrival and departure of private and transit visits by Heads of State and Heads of Government. CERHOS is responsible for managing arrangements to escort a GoG exempted from aviation security screening and CIQ border processing through airports.
The functions of CERHOS include the following:
- development of the official program for visits by senior foreign visitors as guests of the Australian Government and the coordination of appropriate administrative arrangements for them; and
- arrangement of official hospitality and ceremonial occasions including State funerals and memorial services
- assistance with courtesies for private and transit visits by Heads of State/Government and his/her accompanying spouse and children;
Among the administrative arrangements for visiting Heads of State/Government and Guests of Government, CERHOS assigns a visit officer to liaise with missions and posts, as well as airport authorities and the Customs and Border Protection Service, about arrival and departure arrangements. The visit officer will advise the respective mission or post of specific arrival and departure details once they have been confirmed.
The Head of the Mission or Post, or a designated representative, together with the visit officer, will be escorted to the aircraft, where they will meet the visiting Head of State/Government or Guest of Government. (The practice is that only one member of the mission or post is allowed entry to the restricted area of the airport. Other mission members may wait in the VIP room or another suitable area. This should be discussed carefully with the visit officer.)
The visiting Head of State/Government or Guest of Government and party, plus accredited representatives, will be escorted by a Customs officer and the visit officer to the VIP room where they will wait while entry formalities are completed. In some cases, the party will proceed directly to the Entry Control Point, where priority passage will be accorded.
The procedures for accompanying a visiting Head of State/Government or Guest of Government to the aircraft on departure are similar to those for arrival, with CERHOS again coordinating arrangements. On departure, the normal procedure is for the foreign Head of State/Government or Guest of Government and party to be escorted to a VIP lounge (often the first or business class lounge of the airline on which the dignitary is travelling) after departure formalities have been completed (including aviation security screening as required). Normally, only one diplomatic or consular representative may accompany the departing party to the lounge.
When the aircraft is ready for departure, the Head of State/Government or Guest of Government and party, accompanied by the mission's or post's representative, together with the visit officer, will proceed to the departure point.
Once the Head of State/Government or Guest of Government has boarded the aircraft, the farewelling party will be escorted from the lounge or restricted area to the public area of the airport.
Importantly, all foreign dignitaries, if not travelling as an official Guest of Government, will continue to be required to hold an appropriate visa for their travel and stay in Australia. Persons invited as an official Guest of Government are taken to automatically hold a label-free Special Purpose Visa (SPV) for travel and entry to Australia.
When a foreign minister or equivalent is not visiting as a GoG, DFAT will manage arrangements for airport facilitation. This does not include on-ground transport, which is the responsibility of the foreign dignitary's own government representatives. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) will coordinate the security requirements at the designated domestic airports (see Section 14.4 below).
Missions and posts should note important advice in the final paragraph in section 14.4 concerning the escort of senior dignitaries between international and domestic terminals.
Detailed "Information Notes" on State and official visits are available on request from CERHOS. Further advice may be obtained from the Senior Advisor, CERHOS, tel (02)6271 5368 or fax (02) 6271 5796.
Aside from the exempt foreign dignitaries identified at Section 14.1 above, the Australian Government acknowledges that there may be exceptional instances where a very senior foreign dignitary not included in the above category (such as a very senior hereditary or parliamentary identity or the head of certain major international organisations) may justify consideration of exempt status. In such instances, DFAT would expect to receive a formal request for consideration at least two weeks ahead of the proposed visit (official, private or transit) by way of a formal diplomatic note as indicated above for exempt foreign dignitaries. Formal notification must have attached completed Parts A and B of the Application form (Appendix 20). All applications for consideration of an exceptional exemption must include answers to quarantine questions as outlined in Part B of the Application Form. Failure to answer these questions may result in consideration of the foreign dignitary's request for exemption being denied. Further information on such quarantine requirements is included at Section 14.9 below.
Should such an exemption be granted, DFAT will notify the relevant foreign mission as soon as possible prior to the foreign dignitary's arrival in Australia. Missions and international organisations should note that such an exemption would only be granted in exceptional circumstances and would only apply for the particular visit under consideration.
As stated above, missions and international organisations should note that airlines have their own policies on the carriage of unscreened passengers. The Government cannot override an airline's decision declining an aviation screening waiver. Therefore, aviation security screening of an otherwise exempt dignitary will need to be undertaken where it is required by an airline.
A non-exempt foreign dignitary (and his/her accompanying spouse and children) may be assisted through aviation security screening and/or CIQ border processing at designated international and domestic airports in Australia, subject to local exigencies. Designated airports are Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Perth, Adelaide, Gold Coast, Hobart and Alice Springs. For guidance purposes, non-exempt foreign dignitaries may include:
- National government ministers, State or provincial governors and politicians;
- Senior officials of permanent head rank;
- Certain other high ranking VIPs (such as high officers of the United Nations);
- Leaders of high level official delegations attending either bilateral or multilateral conferences in Australia;
- Heads of Canberra-based diplomatic missions on first arrival and final departure; and
- Other senior foreign dignitaries, subject to case-by-case considerations (normally as part of an official visit program).
Notification should be provided at least five working days in advance. Facilitation may not be available if insufficient advance notice is provided because of lead times required to notify relevant agencies of the impending travel. The relevant Australian agencies must have sufficient time for coordinating arrangements necessary to ensure the smooth passage of the foreign dignitary through Australian airports. Facilitation requests must also include a completed Application Form - Appendix 19 [DOC 42 KB] as outlined in Section 14.1 above. Facilitation requests should make explicit whether the request applies only to arrival, or to both arrival and departure for international and domestic travel. The point of contact to arrange for such facilitation is DFAT's Protocol Branch and the appropriate State or Territory Office. Contact details for the State and Territory Offices can be found below at section 14.11: Contact us or at Appendix 14 of the Protocol Guidelines.
Facilitation at designated international airports will be coordinated by the Customs and Border Protection Service (Customs). Where necessary, the Customs Officer may be assisted by an airport/airline representative who would accompany the non-exempt foreign dignitary through normal arrival and departure procedures. These include immigration, customs and quarantine checks on arrival, and immigration, customs and security checks on departure.
Facilitation arrangements at designated domestic airports will be coordinated by the Australian Federal Police (AFP). The AFP officer will coordinate with airlines, airports and security providers for the passage of a non-exempt foreign dignitary through the various layers of security, including any requirements for the security screening process. Subject to local exigencies, an AFP officer may be available, if required, to accompany the non-exempt foreign dignitary through the security screening process at designated domestic airports.
Where a program for the visit for a non-exempt foreign dignitary has been arranged with another Australian Government Department or organisation, the diplomatic mission or post responsible for the visit should ensure that the host organisation has advised DFAT (Protocol Branch) to enable appropriate airport facilitation arrangements to be made.
Approval may be given for one person from a mission or post to accompany a Customs representative to meet, and then to assist the foreign dignitary to complete customs and immigration formalities.
Where the dignitary is making an immediate connection from an international to a domestic terminal, or from a domestic to an international terminal, the responsible embassy or consulate should make an officer available to escort the dignitary from one terminal to the other, unless the dignitary has specifically advised this is not necessary. This is particularly important in some locations (eg: Sydney, Brisbane) where the international and domestic terminals are separately located. Only where there is no consular post in the relevant State or Territory Capital will DFAT consider other arrangements. The application forms at Appendix 19 [DOC 42 KB] and Appendix 20 [DOC 45 KB] request the details of a meeting or farewelling embassy or consulate officer, whose responsibility it is to contact and meet the escorting Customs or airport official at the international terminal or the AFP officer at the domestic terminal. That embassy or consular officer should advise the estimated arrival time of the senior dignitary to Customs (at the international terminal) or to the AFP (at the domestic terminal). The officer should also keep those authorities promptly advised of any changed timings. DFAT's State and Territory offices (see section 14.11 and Appendix 14 in the Protocol Guidelines) can assist with contact numbers for Customs and AFP officers at relevant airports, if required. Embassies in Canberra should contact Protocol Branch if necessary for AFP contact details at Canberra airport.
Private or transit visits — non-exempt dignitaries
Where non-exempt foreign dignitaries are visiting Australia in a private capacity or in transit, missions and posts may request airport facilitation for their international arrivals and departures and domestic transfers by contacting the appropriate state or territory office of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade five working days in advance with the same requirements applicable as above.
14.5 Visits as Guest of the Australian Parliament
Where arrangements are being made for an overseas parliamentary delegation to officially visit Australia as a "Guest of the Australian Parliament", the Parliamentary Relations Office (PRO) in the Parliament of Australia will be responsible for all logistics arrangements including airport facilitation (both international and domestic). Only when such delegations are accorded "Guest of Government" status will CERHOS (PM&C) become involved. The PRO will make its own direct contact with relevant airport authorities and border control agencies and will, where practical and in consultation with the relevant diplomatic mission, make use of the application form at Appendix 19 (see link in sub-section 14.1, 14.3 and 14.4 above) to assist in informing airport and border control authorities.
Contact details for the Parliamentary Relations Office are:
- Phone: (02) 6277 4340
- Fax: (02) 6277 2000
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Parliamentary delegations visiting Australia without "Guest of the Australian Parliament" status will be eligible for airport facilitation in accordance with section 14.4 (Arrangements for Non-exempt Foreign Dignitaries).
14.6 Airport VIP rooms
Facilitation does not automatically involve the use of VIP rooms. An airport VIP room should be requested separately by the mission or post. It should be noted that where VIP rooms are available, Australian airports generally charge for the use of such rooms and the provision of any refreshments (which may also need to be booked in addition to the room).
- In cases where a fee is charged for the VIP room, CERHOS will pay for dignitaries who are Guests of Government or for Heads of State/Government visiting privately or transiting. Missions/posts are free to negotiate directly with the airport General Manager for the use of a VIP room on any other occasion. In such cases any costs must be met by the mission/post which makes the booking. On request State and Territory Offices may be able to assist with the booking of the VIP room, but it will need to be paid for by either the Embassy or the Consulate of the visitor.
14.7 Aviation Security Screening
The Australian Government takes very seriously its obligations and responsibilities under international and domestic law to protect foreign dignitaries from harassment or impairment of dignity. These obligations do not displace Australia's responsibility to respond to the international security environment and to ensure the safety and security of the travelling public, including visiting foreign dignitaries.
Australia's aviation security legislation is comparable to arrangements in many other countries and the Australian Government expects airport security screening procedures to be applied rigorously.
Accordingly, non-exempt foreign dignitaries are expected to undergo security screening processes at Australian airports and exempt foreign dignitaries are expected to undertake aviation security screening where required by an airline. Wherever possible, private screening will be offered to the dignitary away from public scrutiny.
The screening process will avoid, where possible, physical contact between the screening officer and the non-exempt foreign dignitary. If a non-exempt foreign dignitary is being screened and an alarm subsequently sounds, the non-exempt foreign dignitary will, in the first instance, be asked to remove any metallic items from their person which may have triggered the alarm (such as jewellery, watches or coins). If the alarm continues to sound, a frisk search of the non-exempt foreign dignitary's person will be required before he/she is allowed entry into the sterile area or to board an aircraft. Missions and international organisations should note that a frisk search will only be conducted by a screening officer of the same gender and only with the consent of the non-exempt foreign dignitary.
The screening of a non-exempt foreign dignitary's carry-on baggage/personal effects will be undertaken by:
- use of X-ray observation equipment, noting that a physical search will be required where the baggage/effects of the non-exempt foreign dignitary cannot be cleared through the interpretation of the X-ray image, or
- a physical search, where screening is undertaken in a private room away from the public screening point, or where the non-exempt foreign dignitary has requested this form of screening.
All missions and international organisations should note that a non-exempt foreign dignitary may wish to exercise the option of having a member of their party take the carry-on baggage through the screening point, noting the provisions of 1 above.
Important information on aviation security measures for carry-on baggage, customs, quarantine and health considerations as they apply to all foreign dignitaries are outlined in Section 14.9 below.
Australian authorities provide comprehensive protective security arrangements for Internationally Protected Persons, Heads of State/Government, Guests of the Government and other VIPs against whom an assessed security threat exists. This includes the use of close protection police officers and the implementation of appropriate transport, accommodation and venue security arrangements.
It is a long-standing policy of the Australian Government that foreign security personnel accompanying foreign dignitaries on visits to Australia are not permitted to carry firearms. This policy is based on the very high standard of protective security arrangements provided by Australian authorities and on the generally low level of threat within Australia. These personnel are also not permitted to import or carry prohibited items. Prohibited items include ballistic vests, or any other type of weapon, including batons, tasers, handcuffs and sprays. Any security personnel accompanying a foreign dignitary may be subjected to electronic security screening and may also be required to allow Australian officials to inspect their bags. In the event that a weapon or prohibited item is detected, it could be immediately impounded by Australian security authorities. Foreign security officers who breach Australian law through the undeclared importation, carriage or use of prohibited items may be liable to prosecution.
Where foreign security officers are carrying weapons for other purposes, such as visits to other countries, those firearms and other weapons must be handed over to the Customs and Border Protection Service on arrival for safe keeping. The weapons will be returned to the security officers at the point of departure from Australia. Prior arrangements must be made with Customs officials. It should be noted that it is an offence to carry firearms and/or ammunition in the passenger compartment of any commercial passenger aircraft entering, leaving or flying within Australia.
Visiting foreign dignitaries should be accommodated in a security-approved hotel. Where the dignitary wishes to stay at a mission or private residence, the additional cost of guarding the mission/residence will be at the expense of the particular mission.
If foreign bodyguards wish to bring into Australia their own portable radios, approval must be sought in advance for the proposed frequencies. In the case of Heads of State/Government and Guests of Government the request, containing full details of the equipment, should be submitted to CERHOS as early as possible before the visit. For other foreign dignitaries the request should be submitted to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for approval either via email: email@example.com or telephone 1300 850 115.
Aviation Security Measures for Carry-on Baggage at Australian Airports: Liquids, Aerosols and Gels (International travel only):
Since 31 March 2007, strict rules apply for the carriage of liquids, aerosols and gels on international flights into and out of Australia. These rules also apply when transiting on international flights within Australia and have been designed to protect passengers from the threat of liquid explosives. All persons (including foreign dignitaries regardless of their exempt or non-exempt status) must ensure that:
- Each container of liquids, aerosols or gels included in a foreign dignitary's carry-on baggage is equal to 100 millilitres/grams or less
- All the containers are sealed in a transparent, resealable, one-litre plastic bag (one per person). Bags sealed with items such as sticky tape, rubber bands or ribbons will not be accepted
Individual passengers may still carry onboard:
- prescription medicines
- Baby products and non-prescription medicines (although proof of need may be required)
Please note that any liquids, aerosols or gels greater than 100ml/g will have to be surrendered at designated screening points. These restrictions also apply to duty free products which do not meet the conditions outlined above. The above restrictions do not apply to checked-in baggage. Further information is available from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government.
What to expect at Australian Airports:
All foreign dignitaries (exempt or otherwise) must hold a valid visa for entry and travel to Australia. Persons invited as an official Guest of Government are taken to automatically hold a label-free Special Purpose Visa (SPV) for travel and entry to Australia.
Upon arrival, an exempt dignitary, his/her spouse and accompanying children should each present a passport and completed Incoming Passenger Card (IPC) for Customs and quarantine purposes and for recording of the movement of dignitaries. Expedited clearance through the Immigration and Customs area will be available and where prior arrangement is made, may incorporate the use of a VIP room, if available.
Please note that non-exempt persons accompanying an exempt dignitary will not be exempt from CIQ processing or clearances.
Prohibited Items and Weapons:
The carriage of prohibited items and weapons into the sterile area of an airport or on board an aircraft is prohibited. The Aviation Transport Security Regulations 2005 sets out examples of the types of items that are considered prohibited items (Regulation 1.07) and weapons (Regulation 1.09). Further information regarding these prohibited items is available in the Aviation Transport Security Regulations 2005 and is available at www.comlaw.gov.au.
Important Customs Considerations:
Prohibited and Restricted Items
It is illegal to carry drugs including marijuana, cannabis, heroin, cocaine and amphetamines in and out of Australia. Counterfeit goods and offensive types of pornography are also prohibited.
What must be declared?
- Firearms, weapons and ammunition
- Protected wildlife
- Heritage-listed goods
Important Quarantine Considerations:
An exempted foreign dignitary will be excluded from routine quarantine screening processes which may include, but are not limited to, passenger baggage being be x-rayed, inspected or checked by a detector dog team.
Missions and international organisations should note however, that a foreign dignitary not otherwise exempt but who, in exceptional circumstances only, seeks to apply for an exemption will be required to forward to DFAT a completed Application Form (Appendix 20) along with their request for exemption. The Application Form requires specific information regarding essential quarantine considerations. Failure to complete this form will result in the application for an exceptional exemption being delayed or denied.
Before an exempted foreign dignitary arrives in Australia, he/she will be required to complete an incoming passenger card (IPC). A foreign dignitary must place a cross in the YES or NO box on the IPC to the following quarantine and health related questions:
- Any Food – includes dried, fresh, preserved, cooked, uncooked?
- Wooden articles, plants, parts of plants, traditional medicines or herbs, seeds, bulbs, straw, nuts?
- Animal, parts of animals, animal products including equipment, pet food, eggs, biologicals, specimens, birds, fish, insects, shells, bee products?
- Soil, items with soil attached or used in freshwater areas i.e. sports/recreational equipment, shoes?
- Whether they have been in contact with farms, farm animals, wilderness areas or freshwater streams/lakes etc in the past 30 days?
- Have you been in Africa or South America in the last 6 days?
If an exempted foreign dignitary places a cross in the YES box on the IPC to any of the above questions, or verbally declares items that he/she believes may be of concern to a quarantine officer, or if a quarantine officer has serious grounds for presuming an exempted foreign dignitary's baggage contains prohibited items (e.g. a visual sighting of quarantine material) then the exempted foreign dignitary would be subject to the routine quarantine screening processes as undertaken by AQIS officers on all international passengers arriving into Australia.
Australian Quarantine Requirements:
Below is a summary of the types of things that all persons entering Australia (including a foreign dignitary, exempt or otherwise) are prohibited from importing into Australia, unless, prior to arrival in Australia, the Director of Quarantine has granted a permit for the importation of the particular item being imported:
- meat and meat products
- dairy products
- eggs and egg products
- certain types of plants and parts of plants, including fresh fruit and vegetables, certain types of seeds
- live animals, dead animals and animal parts
- honey and various other bee products
- various types of fish and parts of fish, such as dried fish, processed fish and fish meal
- various types of biological material, such as enzymes, blood, micro-organisms and tissues
In some cases, an import permit is not required if certain conditions are met. The following website contains information on how to apply for an import permit: www.daff.gov.au. Please note that quarantine treatments are subject to fees. For further information on import conditions, please check the import conditions (ICON) database at http://www.daff.gov.au/aqis/import/icon-icd. This database lists the Quarantine conditions under which various commodities may be brought into Australia.
Important Health Considerations:
Most aircraft entering Australia are able to unload without any health interventions. However, commanders of aircraft are required to report ill (or deceased) passengers prior to landing, and in these cases AQIS personnel will attend the plane to carry out further assessment. If it is an exempt person that has been identified as ill (including with a serious communicable illness) they would be subject to normal quarantine procedures.
If an exempt person has indicated through the IPC that they have been in Africa or South America in the last 6 days, they would be asked to indicate whether they have been in a yellow fever endemic country during that period. If so, they will be asked to present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate. If a vaccination certificate cannot be provided, arrangements can be made to permit the person to enter Australia under yellow fever surveillance (the option if individuals arrive without a certificate).
All parties will be required to complete screening in the very rare circumstance that a health emergency is being responded to, and such screening requirements are present at the border. In such instances, completion of a health declaration card is likely to be required of each member of the travelling party. If a problem is identified a border nurse may attend the traveller to make a further assessment.
Missions seeking Australian diplomatic or other clearances for government owned or chartered aircraft or vessels (including warships and military auxiliary vessels and government owned or chartered ships) not engaged in commercial activities should apply directly to the Australian authorities responsible as follows:
Aircraft (state/military or civil aircraft)
When an aircraft (whether a military, customs, or police aircraft, or a civil-registered aircraft operated by an airline or any other civilian aircraft operator on behalf of a government) is to be used to carry a head of state, head of government, foreign minister or other senior dignitaries into Australia, missions are to apply for an Australian diplomatic clearance, using the attached template Australian Diplomatic Clearance Application Form [PDF 237 KB] and Instructions to the Department of Defence:
Air and Space Operations Centre
PO Box 7928
Canberra BC ACT 2610
Attention: Diplomatic Clearance Officer
Canberra ACT 2600
Attention : Staff Officer Diplomatic Clearance Tel: (02) 6128 4819
Fax: (02) 6128 5175
(Note: the template is also available at Appendix 23 in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Protocol Guidelines.)
Diplomatic missions or consular posts seeking a diplomatic clearance for a State aircraft not being used to carry a head of state/government, foreign minister or other senior dignitary into Australia, should also apply to the Air and Space Operations Centre, using the template form (see link above or Appendix 23 in DFAT's Protocol Guidelines.
In some cases, a written authorisation from CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority Australia) and/or the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government may be required. The Department of Defence will provide your application to CASA and the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government who will then contact you to advise what, if anything, is required to be done to conduct the flights. CASA may, for example, provide an additional application form.
In the case of warships and auxiliary vessels applications and enquiries should be directed to:
Military Strategic Commitments
MAR2 - MSC
Department of Defence
Canberra ACT 2600
Telephone: (02) 6266 7515; Fax: (02) 6265 3622
In the case of government owned or chartered vessels not engaged in commercial activities, applications and enquiries should be directed to:
Sea Law, Environment Law and Antarctic Section
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Canberra ACT 2600
Telephone : (02) 6261 3718; Fax : (02) 6261 2144
- Dept of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) - Protocol Branch - 61 2 6273 1355 (mob: 0418 7 127) (24 hours on call)
- DFAT State and Territory Offices - Protocol Guidelines Appendix 14
- Dept of Prime Minister and Cabinet - Ceremonial and Hospitality Branch (CERHOS) - 6271 5368 (mob: 0418 624 4)
- Australian Federal Police – Protection Intelligence - 61 2 6131 6310 (24 hours on call)
- Customs and Border Protection Service - 1300 363 263
- Dept of Immigration and Citizenship - 131 881
- Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service - 1800 020 504
- Dept of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government - Office of Transport Security - 61 2 6274 7111