3401.0 - Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, May 2012 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/07/2012   
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Overseas arrivals and departures (OAD) statistics are complied from administrative data provided by the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). The main source data are incoming and outgoing passenger cards completed by persons arriving in or departing from Australia. Data from passports and visa (entry permit) applications and approvals are also provided from DIAC's Travel and Immigration Processing System (TRIPS). These three data sources are collected, compiled and matched together by DIAC.

For information on the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.


OAD data provides information on all recorded movements across Australia's borders, both in-bound and out-bound, by category of movement and numerous other variables (listed towards the end of the Explanatory Notes under Additional Statistics Available). The three main categories of movement are:
  • permanent movements;
  • long-term movements (one year or more); and
  • short-term movements (less than on year).

    These data (while refined further) are used as inputs into international tourism, net overseas migration (NOM) and through NOM into the estimated resident population (ERP) of Australia and its states and territories.

    Geographically, OAD data is available at the Australia and state and territory levels. For all arrivals, state and territory data is based on the state or territory of intended address. Compilation of OAD statistics use the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (cat. no. 1269.0).

    Care should be taken when interpreting OAD movement data as 'people' as these statistics 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, transit passengers who pass through Australia but are not cleared for entry, passengers on pleasure cruises commencing and finishing in Australia, and unauthorised arrivals. Users requiring data on the number of travellers (people) who stay within (or away from) Australia for at least 12 months may find NOM estimates more suitable to meet their needs. For more information on NOM see the Explanatory Notes in Migration, Australia (cat. no. 3412.0).

    International tourism contributes to estimates of the direct economic contribution of tourism to the Australian economy. The estimates are included in the tourism satellite account linked to the Australian system of national accounts and to Australia's international trade in goods and services on a balance of payments basis.


    OAD statistics are released monthly, approximately 5 weeks after the end of the reference period.


    OAD statistics are derived from a combination of full enumeration and sampling of movement records. All permanent movements and all movements with a duration of stay of one year or more are fully enumerated. The number of movements where the duration of stay is less than one year are fully enumerated, however their characteristics are sampled. From January 2005, 4.9% of all short-term movements have been selected for sample. Statistics relating to these movements are therefore weighted estimates.

    Two types of errors are possible in an estimate based on a sample; non-sampling and sampling:
  • Non-sampling errors: These arise from inaccuracies in collecting, recording and processing the data. 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, state and country of previous residence and main country of intended destination are also imputed by reference to other related items. For further information on non-response rates and data imputation see the Data Quality Issues Appendix of this publication.
  • Sampling errors: Estimates based on a sample are subject to sampling variability, that is, they may differ from those that would be obtained from full enumeration. One measure of the likely difference resulting from not fully enumerating the OAD collection is provided by the standard error. There are about two chances in three that the sample estimate will differ by less than one standard error from the figure that would have been obtained from full enumeration, and about nineteen chances in twenty that the difference will be less than two standard errors. For further information on standard errors applied to OAD movements see the Standard Errors section of this publication.


    OAD data measure crossings of Australia's borders. The data are available from 1901, for various categories of traveller (e.g. permanent, long-term and short-term arrivals and departures) and periods (e.g. annual, quarterly and monthly). Electronic data are available from this website for categories of traveller on a monthly basis from January 1976, with selected variables available from January 1991.

    To provide a high degree of consistency and comparability over time, this administrative data has required careful and continuing maintenance and development to protect the integrity of the data and the efficiency of the collection. Changes that have occurred over the collection period include: sampling methods, estimation methods, concepts, data item definitions, classifications and time series analysis techniques. For example the change in boundaries and existence of various countries can affect their comparability over time.


    All published OAD data are available as original series estimates. Trend series estimates and seasonally adjusted series estimates, for short-term visitor arrivals and short-term resident departures, are available from January 1976. Additionally, for these two categories, trend and seasonally adjusted estimates are available by country of previous residence and main country of intended destination from January 1991.

    Seasonally adjusted estimates allow users to analyse short-term movements including irregular impacts on the series while trend estimates provide a better method to analyse and monitor the underlying direction of the short-term movement series. In most cases the trend series is the best source of information on the long-term direction of these statistics.

    Further information can be obtained from the Explanatory Notes and Appendixes in this publication.


    OAD data are available in a variety of formats on the ABS website.

    The Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia (cat. no. 3401.0) publication provides the most comprehensive source for statistics on OAD in Australia, particularly for short-term movements. Over the years OAD data have been released via various outputs including .pdf, spreadsheets and data files. Currently, this publication is released as a monthly web only release (e.g. Key Figures, Main Features, Explanatory Notes, etc.) with an associated 12 time series spreadsheets (Excel format) available from the Downloads tab.

    Graphs on the monthly change to short-term visitor arrivals and short-term resident departures (Trend) are available in Key National Indicators (cat. no. 1345.0)

            More detailed or customised tabulation of OAD data may also be made available through ABS Consultancy Services. A list of variables for OAD data is available towards the end of the Explanatory Notes under Additional Statistics Available. For inquiries contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or email client.services@abs.gov.au.