Monitoring people movement

The Australian Government is strongly committed to the effective management of the movement of people to protect Australia's interests. The Department provides various systems to ensure rapid processing and screening of all travellers. Information databases support tracking the presence of people who do not comply.

Movement Records (MR)

What are Movement Records?

Arrival and departure records of travellers to and from Australia dating from 1981, are contained within the Movements Reconstruction database. These 'movement records' may include the traveller's name, date of birth, gender and relationship status, country of birth, departure and/or arrival date, travel document number and country, port code and flight/vessel details, visa subclass and expiry date, and the number of movements.

The Department also maintains non-electronic movement records information including:

  • microfilm records of passenger cards from 1965
  • ship manifests (1924 to 1964)
  • Alien’s cards (1947 to 1979)

How is the Movements Reconstruction database protected?

Section 488 (Tampering with Movement Records) of the Migration Act 1958 imposes strict guidelines concerning access to and disclosure of movement records stored in the Movements Reconstruction database. Only authorised officers can access the information. The purposes for which movement records can be disclosed are prescribed in the legislation. A breach of this provision is punishable by two years imprisonment.

Information sharing

To support whole-of government initiatives, the Department has various movement records information sharing arrangements in place. Those initiatives involve border security, law enforcement, entitlement and identity verification, validations actions, eligibility determinations and various notifications.

The storage, use and disclosure by government departments of movement records and passenger card information are governed by migration legislation and the Privacy Act 1988.
Form 1442i (144KB PDF file)
Passenger cards

Requesting access to movement records

Access to your own movement records is available under section 488 of the Migration Act 1958 and the Freedom of Information Act 1982.
See: Form 1359 Request for International Movement Records (140KB PDF file)

Movement Alert List (MAL)

The Movement Alert List (MAL) is the Department's primary tool for protecting the country from those people who may pose a serious threat to the Australian community.

MAL is a computer database of details on people and travel documents of immigration concern to Australia which is used to screen possible visa issues.

Automatic border protection systems, such as MAL, are supplemented through a range of offshore compliance operations.

See: Fact Sheet 77 The Movement Alert List

Regional Movement Alert System (RMAS)

What is RMAS?

The Regional Movement Alert System (RMAS) is an APEC counter-terrorism initiative that enhances regional border security standards for air travel through the close cooperation and collaboration of participating governments.

The objective of RMAS is to strengthen the collective capacity of participating APEC economies to detect lost, stolen and otherwise invalid travel documents and to prevent them from being used illegally.

Additionally, RMAS is able to confirm that a passport is recognised as valid by its document issuing authority, and alerts authorities to passports that are not recognised as valid. This passport validation capacity makes RMAS a powerful tool for detecting counterfeit passports and removing them from circulation.

The Department has played an important role in the development of RMAS and will continue to take the lead role in its administration and operation of RMAS.

Currently, the participating APEC economies are Australia, the United States of America and New Zealand.

How RMAS works

RMAS enables participating economies to automatically verify the status of passports and that they have been validly issued by directly accessing the passport databases maintained by each participating economy.

RMAS is a world first. It enables participating APEC economies to cooperate to improve border control and passenger facilitation without needing to pool data in a central database.

The ability of RMAS to verify the status of passports, and ensure they have been validly issued, with their document issuing authorities at the point of departure is one of the key features distinguishing it from systems that compile lost and stolen passport data.

Benefits of RMAS

Collaboration with other governments in the accessing of passport data is one very effective means to improve border integrity. These efforts can also assist in managing the increasing numbers of travellers.

Lost,stolen and fraudulent passports give criminals and terrorists the opportunity to steal another person's identity, travel illegally and commit other crimes. RMAS provides greater safety for airline passengers, crew and the people of participating APEC economies by enabling border authorities to confirm the status of passports before the person using the passport travels to orenters their territory.

Future directions

In November 2006, APEC leaders agreed to the further expansion of RMAS to other APEC economies wanting to participate.

Further information

More information about RMAS and other APEC Business Mobility Group initiatives is available on another website.
See: Business Mobility Group website

Advance Passenger Information (API)

What is API?

The Advance Passenger Information system (API) involves a government receiving data about travellers in advance of their arrival into the country. This data can include information about passengers, crew and transit travellers. The information can then be checked against warning lists and used for immigration processing, security and customs purposes. The main objectives of API systems are to provide advance warning of persons of interest travelling to the country and to facilitate passengers on arrival.

APEC Pathfinder Initiative

In 2001, APEC leaders issued a Counter Terrorism statement, part of which called on APEC economies to establish: 'Cooperation to develop electronic movement records systems that will enhance border security while ensuring movement of legitimate travellers is not disrupted.'

The implementation of API systems across the Asia-Pacific region would significantly enhance regional security and for this reason APEC leaders have endorsed API systems as an effective counter-terrorism measure and 'Pathfinder Initiative'.

Under the auspices of APEC Business Mobility Group, which the Department chairs, Australia has provides a range of eligible economies with an API 'feasibility study' report. The reports identify a range of issues governments need to consider when developing their own API systems, including the current border management systems infrastructure and business processing.

Feasibility study reports have been completed for Thailand, Indonesia, Chile, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China.

Benefits of API

API provides significant benefits for all economies by maximising the security of travel and facilitating faster processing of legitimate travellers, while reducing opportunities for travel by unauthorised or improperly documented persons.

API provides for:

  • enhanced border security as it provides for more thorough checking of travellers
  • increased passenger facilitation due to passengers being 'pre-processed' before arriving at the border.

The implementation of API across APEC would also significantly enhance domestic and regional security by providing economies with advance warning of suspect persons travelling to the country.

Further information

More information about API and other APEC Business Mobility Group initiatives is available on another website.
See: Business Mobility Group website

Last modified Tuesday 24 February 2015