Information for reportable offenders

I am a reportable offender. Can I travel overseas?

If you:

  • are an Australian citizen; and
  • are entered on a State or Territory child protection register; and
  • have current reporting obligations

it is an offence for you to travel overseas without permission from a competent authority. This offence is punishable by imprisonment for 5 years and/or 300 penalty units.

Additionally, if a competent authority requests the Minister for Foreign Affairs to cancel your passport, refuse to issue you a passport, or demand the surrender of a foreign passport you possess, then the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) will arrange those actions.

For these purposes, a competent authority is any person who has responsibility for, or powers, functions or duties in relation to, a child protection register under a law of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory.

I'm not an Australian citizen. Am I affected?

No. These measures only apply to Australian citizens.

I'm on a register, but I wasn't convicted of a child sex offence. Am I affected?

Yes. A small number of people on child protection registers have been included for reasons other than a child sex offence. If you are one of them, these measures apply to you. Like others, you may seek permission from a competent authority to travel overseas.

I have an Australian passport. Will it be cancelled? Can I still use it?

If a competent authority requests that your passport be cancelled, DFAT will arrange this. DFAT will then write to you care of the competent authority to tell you that your passport has been cancelled. In the meantime, it is an offence for you to attempt to depart Australia without permission, even if you still have a valid passport. 

How do I know if a competent authority has asked DFAT to deny me a passport?

If you want to confirm whether a request has been made, you will need to ask the competent authority responsible for your reporting obligations.

A competent authority has decided I can keep my passport. Am I free to travel?

It is an offence to attempt to depart Australia without permission, even if a competent authority decides not to request that your passport be cancelled.

If I go to the airport to travel, and my passport is still valid, what will happen?

It is a Commonwealth offence for you to attempt to depart Australia without permission, even if you still have a valid passport. If you make any such attempt, your passport may be seized, and you may be detained and prosecuted.

I'm an Australian dual national and I have a foreign passport. Can I use it?

If a competent authority makes a request to DFAT, you will be ordered to surrender your foreign passport. Even if you are not ordered to surrender your foreign passport, it will be a Commonwealth offence for you to attempt to use it to depart Australia without permission.

How do I get permission to travel?

By approaching the relevant competent authority in your State or Territory. Be aware that competent authorities will only grant permission in exceptional circumstances.

Do not contact DFAT to request permission to travel. Only competent authorities can grant such permission. DFAT acts on the basis of those decisions. It has no authority of its own to grant permission for you to leave Australia.

How do I find out who my competent authority is?

Contact the officer or authority to whom you report as part of your reporting obligations.

I have permission to travel. Do I need a new passport?

If you have permission to travel, and if your passport has not been cancelled, then you do not need a new passport. 

If your passport has been cancelled, it cannot be reactivated. If you try to use a cancelled passport, it will be impounded at the border and you will not be able to travel. You will need to apply for a new passport. You will not be entitled to any waiver or reduction of the usual application fee.

You can check if your passport is still valid, and ensure it has not been cancelled without your knowing, by phoning 131 232. You will not need to identify yourself as a reportable offender.

How do I get permission to apply for a new passport?

If a competent authority gives you permission to travel, it will record this in your entry in the Australian National Child Offender Register (ANCOR). Specialised staff in DFAT will see this and will process any passport application accordingly. You do not need any separate or additional permission to obtain a passport.

Do not contact DFAT to request permission to travel. Only competent authorities can grant such permission. DFAT acts on the basis of those decisions. It has no authority of its own to grant permission for you to leave Australia.

How do I apply for a passport?

If you have permission to travel, you should apply for a passport in the usual way. When submitting your application, you do not need to identify yourself as a reportable offender to Australian Post or passport office staff. You do not need to submit any documentation as evidence of your permission to travel – the only evidence DFAT will act on is an updated ANCOR entry.

What if the competent authority doesn't tell DFAT?

If you apply for a passport, but a competent authority hasn't told DFAT that you have permission to travel, DFAT will write to you at the address in your application to tell you so. DFAT will not contact the competent authority on your behalf. It will be up to you to arrange with the competent authority for it to advise DFAT via ANCOR, within 28 days from the date on the letter from DFAT, that you have permission to travel. If it does not do this, your passport application will be administratively withdrawn after the 28-day period. You will not be entitled to a refund of your application fee.

How far in advance should I seek permission to travel?

You should allow plenty of time. To allow for any visa applications you may need to make, DFAT will issue a passport up to three months prior to the date on which your permitted travel commences.

How long will it take me to get a passport?

If a competent authority has advised DFAT via ANCOR that you have permission to travel, and if the commencement date of that travel is no more than three months in the future, then your passport application will be processed in line with DFAT's usual service standards.

If the commencement date for your permitted travel is more than three months in the future, DFAT will hold your application until the three month period commences. If you have applied for priority service, you will not be refunded the priority service fee.

What if it's an emergency?

If you need to travel urgently, and you have permission from a competent authority, you can apply for priority processing of your passport application in the usual way. If all the other conditions for a passport are satisfied, DFAT will issue a passport within two business days of receiving everything we need from you. This does not take into account transit times for applications lodged at Australia Post or for passports delivered by mail.

Can I apply for a passport in anticipation of getting permission to travel?

Yes, but if a competent authority does not, within 28 days after you submit your application, provide DFAT with advice via ANCOR that you have permission to travel, then your passport application will be administratively withdrawn, and you will not be refunded the application fee.

Can I use my new passport before my permission to travel commences?

No. You will have to wait until the period covered by your travel permission commences. It is a Commonwealth offence for you to attempt to depart Australia without permission, even if you have a valid passport. 

For how long will my passport be valid?

Your passport will be valid until the end of the period when you are permitted to travel, plus an additional six months to take account of the requirement of many countries that all visitor passports be valid for at least six months from when the visitor intends to leave that country.

Will overseas authorities be advised of my international travel?

In accordance with its role and function, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) will notify relevant overseas law enforcement authorities of your proposed and actual travel.

Overseas law enforcement authorities may take action in accordance with their own laws and policies. This may result in refusal or denial of entry to that country. The AFP, DFAT and other government agencies accept no responsibility for any such action which may occur, or any financial loss which may result, from any refusal or denial of entry to any country.

Should I declare my status as a reportable offender when applying for a visa?

Foreign countries have a range of different entry arrangements, including visa-free, visa-waiver and electronic visa programs. You should enquire with the Embassy or Consulate of your intended destination about its requirements, and how your status as a reportable offender affects your eligibility for entry. Failing to declare information when required by a law of a foreign country may be an offence in that country and may result in criminal prosecution, denial of a visa, or denial of entry.

I've finished my overseas travel but my passport is still valid. Can I use it again?

Only if you still have permission to travel. It is a Commonwealth offence for you to attempt to depart Australia without permission, even if you have a valid passport.

I'm overseas. What will happen to me?

If a competent authority requests that your passport be cancelled, then DFAT will arrange this, regardless of your location. DFAT will then write to you care of the competent authority to let you know that your passport has been cancelled.

If you want to confirm whether a request has been made, you will need to ask the competent authority responsible for your reporting obligations. If you are unsure of your passport's current status, you can check it by phoning 131 232. You will not need to identify yourself as a reportable offender.

If you are overseas, and your passport has been cancelled, and you need a new travel document to return to Australia, you should apply for a passport or travel document at an Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate in the usual way. You will receive a limited-validity document valid for one-way travel to Australia. It will be impounded at the border when you arrive in Australia. You do not need any permission from a competent authority in order to receive this travel document. 

I was overseas when these measures commenced. Have I broken the law?

No. If you left Australia before the measures commenced then you have not broken the law.

What happens when my reporting responsibilities end?

When your reporting responsibilities end, it will no longer be an offence for you to attempt to depart Australia without permission.

If your passport was not cancelled, then you do not need a new passport. 

If your passport was cancelled, you cannot use it again. Whenever any Australian passport is cancelled, it cannot be reactivated. If you try to use a cancelled passport, it will be impounded at the border and you will not be able to travel. You will need to apply for a new passport in the usual way. You will not be entitled to any waiver or reduction of the usual application fee.

When did these measures commence?

13 December 2017.