Factsheet: Travellers

Impact of the Biosecurity Bill on travellers

Page last updated: 13 August 2012

PDF printable version of Fact Sheet for Travellers (PDF 336 KB)

Current operations for processing travellers are not expected to change substantially.

What is a biosecurity risk?

A biosecurity risk is the risk posed by pests and diseases entering Australia, spreading and potentially causing harm to people, the environment and the economy.

While overseas, travellers may be exposed to pests or diseases that pose a biosecurity risk to people in Australia. In addition, they may transport items (by carrying them in their luggage) that may pose a biosecurity risk to Australia.

The new biosecurity legislation will continue to set requirements for incoming international vessels, aircraft and passengers. Current operations for processing travellers are not expected to change substantially. Incoming passengers may be required to provide information about where they have travelled and/or declare their health status —especially if they are arriving from a country where there is a known outbreak of a serious communicable disease.

In some cases, Biosecurity Officers might ask to inspect, test or treat your items to make sure they are safe to bring into the country. However, some items present such a high risk to plant, animal or human health that they will not be allowed into Australia. Some items may also require an import permit to be obtained before they can be brought into Australia.

If an ill individual is identified at Australia’s borders, biosecurity officers will be able to ask questions to determine if they have signs or symptoms of a serious communicable disease, or have been exposed to such a disease. In rare cases where a traveller is at risk of having one of these diseases, the legislation will allow a range of biosecurity measures to be undertaken to manage risk to the individual and to the community. For example, an ill individual may be:
    • required to provide contact details to allow tracing;
    • directed to stay at home for a period of time;
    • directed to wear protective equipment such as a mask; or
    • directed to report their health status regularly.

There will be little discernible difference for travellers under the new legislation. Processes under the legislation will be clarified and powers will be used to first assess, then where necessary, manage biosecurity risk. This should result in a smoother process and fewer delays for travellers and transport companies (both air and sea).