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Airports and seaports

​The Australian Border Force (ABF) plays an important role at our airports and seaports.

We protect Australia's border and enable legitimate travel and trade. We safeguard our border from people who seek to commit immigration fraud or threaten Australia's safety and security.

Our officers work in:

  • all of Australia’s major and regional international airports
  • more than 60 international seaports around the country including those in remote areas such as mining ports
  • locations where international air and sea cargo, including international mail, are processed after import or before export

Our units

Border Force Officers

Border Force Officers use their experience and training to ensure that people and goods entering and leaving Australia through both our seaports and airports adhere to our strict border controls.

People

When working with travellers who are arriving and departing Australia, our officers:

  • check the identity of all travellers and ensure they have relevant travel documentation in place
  • examine people, baggage, aircraft and ships and small craft for drugs, tobacco, prohibited goods and images
  • seize illegal goods and regulated items, for example certain types of wildlife products
  • detect undeclared currency
  • collect duty and tax on imported goods such as alcohol and cigarettes
  • process GST refund claims for travellers

We use the Incoming Passenger Card as a declaration of person's entry into Australia, and to provide information on a person's health, character details and biosecurity information.

Baggage, cargo and mail

We work with biosecurity officers to x-ray or inspect baggage and cargo. We also check arriving mail before it goes to distribution centres. We look for items that could put Australia's security, economy, environment or health at risk.

Sometimes we hold cargo or mail until duty or GST are paid, and/or we see a valid import permit. We may seize prohibited goods and border controlled substances, or the Department of Agriculture may seize them if they present a biosecurity risk.

Detector dogs

Detector dog teams work at Australian airports, seaports, cargo depots and international mail centres.

We train our detector dogs to find drugs, firearms, explosives, currency and tobacco. They provide an effective complementary detection capability alongside technologies such as x-ray and trace particle detection.

Counter terrorism

The Counter Terrorism Units enhance the ABF’s capability to deal with both inbound and outbound national security risks and are deployed across Australia’s major international airports and airports that operate international sectors.

They are responsible for:

  • identifying and intervening with travellers of national security interest and referring them to partner agencies such as the Australian Federal Police when required
  • detaining and/or denying travel being undertaken by travellers of national security interest on behalf of partner agencies
  • detecting and seizing prohibited items or materials such extremist propaganda or images on electronic devices
  • collecting information of intelligence value for whole-of-government efforts in countering terrorism

Note: it is an offence for Australians to enter locations in a foreign country where a listed terrorist organisation is engaged in hostile activity. This is called a Declared Area Offence.

Border Security

We use special technology at airports and seaports to support our officers. We use this technology at our maritime ports, airports, depots, mail centres and also have mobile detection capabilities to guard against terrorism and the movement of illegal or illicit products or substances.

New technology continues to make it easier for us to provide a better border experience for legitimate travellers and traders.

Partnerships

We manage border risks by partnering with domestic and international law enforcement and intelligence agencies. These agencies help us target suspicious people and goods at the border.