3401.0 - Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, 2002  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/04/2002   
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1 This publication contains statistics of persons arriving in, and departing from, Australia, together with the major characteristics of travellers. More detailed statistics can be made available on request (see paragraph 22).


2 Persons arriving in, or departing from, Australia provide information in the form of incoming and outgoing passenger cards (see Appendix 1). Incoming persons also provide information in visa applications, apart from people travelling as Australian and New Zealand citizens. These and other information available to the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) serve as a source for statistics of overseas arrivals and departures.

3 In July 1998, DIMIA revised the incoming and outgoing passenger cards and associated procedures as well as computer systems. Following these changes, some questions on the passenger cards were not compulsory and answers to these questions were not checked by Customs officers. The question on marital status was deleted. Data on marital status is now derived from visa applications (only for certain visa classes) and is therefore not available for Australian or New Zealand citizens. The changes also affect the data for 'previous country of residence' which is imputed for Australian and New Zealand citizens. For more information see the May 1998 issue of this publication. Since July 1998, there have been additional minor changes to both passenger cards.

4 From July 2001, DIMIA adopted a new passenger card processing system which involved electronic imaging of passenger cards and intelligent character recognition of the data stored in the images. This process has yielded several improvements to the processing of passenger card data, most notably the detailed information about missing values. There have also been several changes to data quality. Information on these changes appears in Appendix 2.


5 The statistics in this publication relate to the number of movements of travellers rather than the number of travellers (i.e. multiple movements of individual persons during a given reference period are each counted separately). The statistics exclude the movements of operational air and ships' crew, of transit passengers who pass through Australia but are not cleared for entry, and of passengers on pleasure cruises commencing and finishing in Australia aboard ships not then engaged on regular voyages. Similarly, these statistics exclude those persons not travelling under standard visa conditions, such as 'boat people' and the 1999 intake of Kosovo refugees.


6 The classification of countries in this publication is the Australian Standard Classification of Countries for Social Statistics (ASCCSS). For more detailed information refer to the ABS publication Australian Standard Classification of Countries for Social Statistics (Cat. no. 1269.0).

7 The statistics on country of birth, citizenship, residence or main destination have certain limitations because of reporting on passenger cards. For instance, United Kingdom includes England, Scotland and Wales. Similarly Korea includes both the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.


8 Following the 1992 amendment to the Acts Interpretation Act to include the Indian Ocean Territories of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands as part of geographic Australia, population estimates commencing with the September quarter 1993 include estimates for these two territories. To reflect this change, another category of the State/Territory classification has been created, known as Other Territories. Other Territories includes Jervis Bay Territory, Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.


9 Overseas arrival and departure statistics are derived from a combination of full enumeration and sampling. All permanent movements and all movements with a duration of stay of one year or more are fully enumerated. All movements with a duration of stay of less than one year are sampled. Statistics relating to these movements are therefore estimates which may differ from statistics which would have been obtained if details of all these movements had been processed.

10 Since January 1997 variable sample skips have been used in the selection of records to be sampled. Separate skips are applied for each country of citizenship and the skips may vary for each processing month. Over a year about 3.5% of all short term movements are selected for sampling.

11 The statistics in this publication have been rounded to the nearest 100 for short-term movements and to the nearest 10 for permanent and long-term movements. The sums of the components may, due to rounding, not add exactly to totals.


12 The imprecision due to sampling errors should not be confused with errors arising from imperfections in reporting, which may occur in any data collection, whether sampled or not. Every effort is made to minimise such errors, both through careful design of the passenger cards and through checks on the information once it is received. During the edit process some items are corrected where they conflict with other known information. Missing replies to certain items such as age and country of birth are also imputed by reference to other related items. Information on non-response rates and data imputation appears in Appendix 2.

13 Errors of this kind differ from discrepancies arising from the fact that certain information reflects the travellers' intentions at the time the passenger cards were completed. These intentions are, of course, subject to change. Particularly affected is the distinction between permanent and temporary movement and in the latter case, length of intended stay, country in which most time will be spent and main reason for journey.


14 Original and seasonally adjusted short-term overseas visitor arrivals and short-term Australian resident departures are shown in tables 1 and 2 respectively. In the seasonally adjusted series, account has been taken of normal seasonal factors and trading day effects (arising from the varying numbers of Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays etc. in the month) and the effect of movement in the date of Easter which may, in successive years, affect figures for different months.

15 Seasonal adjustment is a means of removing the estimated effects of normal seasonal variation from the series so that the effects of other influences on the series may be more clearly recognised. Seasonal adjustment procedures do not aim to remove the irregular or non-seasonal influences which may be present in any particular month, such as the effect of major sporting and cultural events, changes in airfares and the fluctuation of $A relative to other currencies. Irregular influences that are highly volatile can make it difficult to interpret the movement of the series even after adjustment for seasonal variation.

16 The trend estimates for short-term overseas visitor arrivals and short-term Australian resident departures are shown in tables 1 and 2 respectively. These trend estimates are derived by applying a 13-term Henderson-weighted moving average to all months of the respective seasonally adjusted series except the first and last six months. Trend series are created for the last six months by applying surrogates of the Henderson weighted moving average to the seasonally adjusted series.

17 While this technique enables smoothed data for the latest period to be produced, it does result in revisions to the smoothed series, principally of recent months, as additional observations become available. There may also be revisions as a result of the re-estimation of the seasonal factors. For further information, see A Guide to Interpreting Time Series-Monitoring 'Trends', an Overview (Cat. no. 1348.0).

18 Due to the non-sequential processing of the current data backlog, final seasonally adjusted and trend estimates are not yet available and have therefore not been included in relevant tables in this issue. These estimates will be made available when the data backlog has been fully processed (currently expected to be late 2002 or early 2003).


19 Users of these statistics may also wish to refer to the following ABS publications:

  • Australian Demographic Statistics (Cat. no. 3101.0)-issued quarterly
  • Migration, Australia (Cat. no. 3412.0)-issued annually
  • Tourism Indicators, Australia (Cat. no. 8634.0)-issued quarterly.

20 Related statistics are also published by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, the Department of Transport and Regional Services and the Bureau of Tourism Research.

21 Current publications produced by the ABS are listed in the Catalogue of Publications and Products, Australia (Cat. no. 1101.0). The ABS also issues, on Tuesdays and Fridays, a Release Advice (Cat. no. 1105.0) which lists publications to be released in the next few days. The Catalogue and Release Advice are available from any ABS office.


22 As well as the statistics included in this and related publications, other relevant unpublished data are available for the following variables:

Citizenship (Nationality)
Country of birth
Age (Date of birth)
Marital status (not available for Australia or New Zealand citizens)
Category of travel
Permanent migrant
    Previous/future country of residence
    State of intended address/lived
Overseas visitor
    Intended/actual length of stay
    Main reason for journey
    Country of residence
    State of intended address/in which most time spent
Australian residents
    Intended/actual length of stay overseas
    Country spent/intend to spend most time abroad
    State or Territory of intended address/State or Territory lived
Occupation (not available for short-term movements)
Country of embarkation/disembarkation
Airport/Port of arrival/departure
Arrival/departure date
Intention to live in Australia for next 12 months (not available for short-term movements)

23 This publication draws extensively on information provided by DIMIA. This continued cooperation is very much appreciated; without it, the statistics published would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


ABSAustralian Bureau of Statistics
DIMIADepartment of Immigration and Multicultural and
Indigenous Affairs
SARSpecial Administrative Region
n.a.not available
n.f.d.not further defined
n.y.a.not yet available
-nil or rounded to zero
. .not applicable