Crossing the border


Movement Alert List

The Movement Alert List (MAL) is administered by the Department of Home Affairs, is a computer database that stores biographic details of identities and travel documents of immigration concern to Australia.

MAL is a key tool we use to apply the legislation governing the entry to and presence in Australia of non-citizens who are of concern for character or other reasons.

The information on MAL

There are over 700 000 identities of interest listed on MAL.

People might be listed on MAL when they have serious criminal records. Other people listed include those whose presence in Australia might constitute a risk to the Australian community and people who may not enter Australia as they are subject to exclusion periods prescribed by migration legislation. This can occur for a number of reasons, including health concerns, debts owed to the Australian Government or other adverse immigration records.

About one million documents of concern are also recorded on MAL. These include reported lost, stolen or fraudulently altered travel documents.

Details of identities and documents of concern are recorded on MAL as a result of the Department's liaison with security, law enforcement agencies, other Australian Government departments and immigration officers in Australia and overseas.

If there is a MAL match a decision on entry is taken by the Department in consultation with any other relevant agency.

Activating MAL

MAL is automatically checked when a departmental officer enters the details of a visa applicant into a visa processing system at an overseas post or a regional office throughout Australia. It is also checked if a client (or a travel agent/airline on behalf of the client) applies for either an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) or an eVisitor visa. If a match is recorded, it is one of the pieces of information under consideration to determine whether the applicant should be granted a visa.

Applying for a visa overseas

Anyone who is not an Australian citizen must have a visa to travel to and enter Australia.(Under the Trans-Tasman Agreement, New Zealand citizens have right of entry to Australia, subject to meeting health and character criteria. They are granted an electronic visa at airport immigration clearance on arrival).

Migrants, students, people coming for temporary work contracts and other long-term temporary stays, and visitors are all checked against MAL when they apply for a visa to Australia.

These checks are also applied to tourists and business visitors from ETAS and eVisitor eligible nationalities.

Tourists and business visitors can obtain an ETA or an eVisitor visa from a travel agent or airline at the same time as they make their travel bookings.

See: The Electronic Travel Authority

Their requests for visas are automatically checked against MAL as the travel agent enters the information.

If there is any matter that requires clarification, the visa is not granted and the traveller is referred to the nearest Australian overseas mission.

Criminal convictions

In determining whether to grant a visa to an applicant, or to allow a passenger arriving at an air or seaport to enter, the immigration officer considers each case on its merits—there is no blanket policy of refusal or acceptance.

As part of this process, immigration officers take into account any adverse MAL record—the number of convictions recorded, the length of sentence served, the level of violence (if any) and when the offence was committed—and balances this against the person's reason for travelling to Australia.

Tough penalties apply to people giving false or misleading information in a visa application or passenger card. Their visas may be cancelled immediately, and they can be removed from Australia and excluded from Australia for a specified time.​