Security screening at airports

Airports and their contractors are directly responsible for delivering aviation security services, including passenger​ screening. The Department of Home Affairs sets the broad requirements and outcomes for aviation security.

Security screening practices can differ across Australian airports. Each airport has its own screening procedures that meet the government’s requirements to achieve the required level of security.

Selection for security screening is not based on gender, ethnicity, religion or employment.

Under Australia’s aviation security legislation, you are unable to choose how you are screened at Australian airports.

Screening is compulsory

Security screening is compulsory for anyone entering the secure area of an Australian airport terminal. This means all:

  • passengers including children and infants
  • people going with passengers to the boarding gate
  • aircrew
  • airport workers.

Screening officers must be satisfied an individual is not carrying any​ weapons or prohibited items before the individual can proceed beyond the security screening ​point.​

Your rights at the screening point

You have the right to refuse any screening process. If you refuse you will not be allowed to go to the gate or board your flight.

When you enter a screening area, you are agreeing to each screening procedure other than a frisk search.

If you feel you have experienced an inappropriate screening process, ask to speak with a supervisor at the screening point. You can also lodge a complaint with the airport – ask a supervisor or check the​ airport’s website.

Before you arrive at the airport

Prepare yourself for screening by knowing:

For more information, check with your airline or the airport you are visiting before you travel, or review our Fact sheet – passenger screening.

At the screening point

  1. Place all personal items in your carry-on baggage, including wallets or purses.
  2. Remove all items from your pockets, including metallic items such as keys, coins and mobile phones. If you don’t, it may trigger alarms and you will need further screening.
  3. Place your carry-on baggage and all loose items in the tray provided on the X-ray conveyor belt for screening.​

You may need to remove items from your carry-on baggage such as laptops, iPads, aerosols or liquids. If so, place them in the tray for separate screening through the X-ray.

You will be screened using either a body scanner or walk-through metal detector.

Before screening

  1. Tell screening officers if you have any medical devices, aids or implants.
  2. Show them any supporting letter or documents from your legal medical practitioner and device manufacturer, if you have them. This helps screening officers to select the most appropriate screening method.

During screening

If an issue is identified or an alarm is triggered, you may be asked to go through the security screening process again until you are cleared. This may include other screening methods, such as:

  • hand-held metal detector
  • frisk search
  • explosive trace detection.

If you wear any medical device or equipment, the screening officer must not remove, attempt to remove, interfere with, or ask you to remove the device or equipment.

Frisk search

If you need a frisk search (a physical pat-down), you will be:

  • asked to consent to this process
  • given the option of having it done in a private room.

A screening officer of the same gender will conduct the frisk search in a way that preserves your dignity and treats all travellers equally.

Explosive trace detection

You may also be randomly selected for explosive trace detection screening after going through the first screening process.


How body scanners work



Children and infant security screening



Extra security for travellers from Abu Dhabi, Dubai or Doha



Special circumstances


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