Overseas Travel Statistics, Provisional methodology

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Reference period
January 2021

Explanatory notes


This release contains provisional statistics on the international travel movements of persons arriving in, and departing from, Australia.

This is a temporary publication in response to COVID-19 and the heightened interest in traveller data. It is released one month earlier than the regular monthly Overseas Arrivals and Departures (OAD) publication. The data does not incorporate arrival card information and the use of other administrative data. The data is provisional and has not had the full quality assurances applied during the standard processes normally undertaken for OAD.

It can be expected movements of persons arriving in, and departing, from Australia, will fluctuate from month to month as travel restrictions are lifted or increased in response to COVID-19.

These statistics record the number of international border crossings rather than the number of travellers. Individuals who travel multiple times in a year are counted each time they cross Australia's borders. This publication is not an appropriate source of migration statistics. For further information refer to:

A number of characteristics collected about travellers are available in this release. For a complete list of variables available see "Additional statistics available" below. 

Source of the statistics

Administrative information on persons arriving in, or departing from, Australia is collected via various processing systems, passport documents and visa information. Aside from persons travelling as Australian or New Zealand citizens, persons travelling to Australia are required to provide information in visa applications. These administrative data are collected by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs (Home Affairs) under the authority of the Migration Regulations 1994 made under the Migration Act 1958.

ABS statistics on provisional overseas travel are compiled using information from Home Affairs sources. All overseas movement records are stored on Home Affairs' Travel and Immigration Processing System (TRIPS). The statistics are counts of all arrivals and all departures. Each month an early extract of all initial movement records is supplied to the ABS.

Comparison with overseas arrival and departure statistics

Data from the Travel and Immigration Processing System (TRIPS) is the main underlying data source for both the regular monthly OAD release and this new provisional publication. The data for this provisional release is used in its raw form, ABS make no alterations, no imputations, no logical edits, and no adjustments are made for missing data items. Provisional overseas travel statistics are not able to be broken down by short-term movements and long-term movements, as it is in the regular monthly Overseas Arrivals and Departures (OAD) publication. Unlike OAD, only a limited number of variables are available - see "Additional statistics available" below. This is because OAD draws on additional administrative data including information from passenger cards that is subject to lengthier processing.

However, because they are based on the same main data source, top level data in Overseas Arrivals and Departures and this publication, Overseas Travel Statistics - Provisional (OTS-P) are closely aligned. The comparison is shown in Figure 1 (All Arrivals) and Figure 2 (All Departures).


Provisional overseas travel statistics relate to all initial recorded movements of travellers who cross Australia's international border. The statistics record the number of movements of travellers rather than the number of travellers (i.e. multiple movements of an individual traveller during a given reference period are each counted separately). It includes the movements of all travellers regardless of their nationality, citizenship or legal status.

The statistics exclude the movements of operational air and ships' crew, of transit passengers who pass through Australia but are not cleared for entry (including some defence force personnel), and of passengers on pleasure cruises commencing and finishing in Australia. These statistics also exclude undocumented arrivals or departures.

From 1 July 2016, Norfolk island was integrated into Australia for administrative purposes. Travel between Australia and Norfolk Island is no longer considered an international movement and is therefore not included in the Provisional Overseas Travel statistics.

Country classification

The classification of countries in this release is the Standard Australian Classification of Countries, 2016. For more detailed information, refer to the ABS release Standard Australian Classification of Countries, 2016. The entire historical series uses this version of the classification.

State and territory of clearance

State and territory of clearance is based on the international airport or sea port of clearance whereby an international traveller is cleared by Australia's Border Force. Users should take care not to confuse this with state and territory of residence/stay used in Overseas Arrivals and Departures. For more information see the Glossary.


The Census and Statistics Act, 1905 provides the authority for the ABS to collect statistical information, and requires that statistical output shall not be published or disseminated in a manner that is likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation.

Some techniques used to guard against identification or disclosure of confidential information in statistical tables are suppression of sensitive cells, random adjustments to cells with very small values and rounding. In these cases data may not sum to totals due to the confidentialisation of individual cells.

The statistics in this release have been rounded to the nearest 10. Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between sums of component items and totals. Analysis featured in this release is based on un-rounded data. Calculations made on rounded data may differ to those published.

Additional statistics available

The ABS may have other relevant data available on request. Generally, a charge is made for providing this information. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

The following variables for provisional overseas travel statistics are available on request:

  • Country of citizenship (nationality)
  • Direction, arrival or departure
  • Reference month (available back to September 2016)
  • Reference year (available back to 2017)
  • State or territory of clearance
  • Visa group
  • Visa subclass

Related products

Monthly Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia.

Related statistics are also published by:

As well as the statistics included in this and related releases, additional information is available on the ABS website. Users can access the full range of electronic ABS data free of charge on the ABS website.


This release draws on information provided by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs. The ABS also uses information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated; without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


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Country of citizenship

Country of citizenship is the nationality of a person. For Overseas Travel Statistics, Provisional data it is usually taken from a traveller's passport or visa information. Country of citizenship has been classified according to the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), 2016.

Overseas arrivals and departures

Overseas arrivals and departures refer to the recorded arrival or departure of persons through Australian air or sea ports (excluding operational air and ships' crew). Statistics relate to the number of movements of travellers rather than the number of travellers (i.e. the multiple movements of individual persons during a given reference period are all counted).

Permanent visa

A visa allowing the holder to remain indefinitely in Australia's migration zone.

Permanent family visa

Persons who have arrived in Australia on a Child, Partner, Parent or Other Family stream visa. These migrants are selected on the basis of their family relationship (spouse, de facto partner, intent to marry, child, parent, other family) with their sponsor who is an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand Citizen.

Permanent humanitarian migrant

Includes permanent entrants under the Offshore Humanitarian Program, as well as those who were granted permanent protection post-arrival in Australia.

Permanent other visas

Includes Humanitarian and refugee visas as well as all Other permanent visa holders.

Permanent skill stream

Those categories of the Migration Program where the core eligibility criteria are based on the applicant's employability or capacity to invest and/or do business in Australia. The immediate accompanying families of principal applicants in the skill stream are also counted as part of the skill stream.

This definition of skill stream is used by Home Affairs who administer the Migration Program.

State or territory of clearance

The state or territory where a traveller is cleared for international travel by the Australian Border Force. Users should take care not to confuse it with state and territory of residence/stay as used in Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia.

Temporary entrants

See temporary visas.

Temporary other visa holders

Includes other temporary visas not already stated.

Temporary student visa holders

These are overseas students who undertake full-time study in a recognised educational institution.

Temporary skilled visa holders

Includes Temporary Work (Skilled) (subclass 457) visa holders who were permitted to travel to Australia to work in their nominated occupation for their approved sponsor for up to four years as well as the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa (subclass 482).

Temporary visitor

A visitor is any traveller arriving to or departing from Australia who is not a resident. A visitor can be either short-term (less than 12 months) or long-term (12 months or more). Visitor visa holders are non-permanent entrants to Australia whose visa is for tourism, medical treatment, short stay business or visiting relatives.

Temporary work visa

Known as Working Holiday Makers visa and includes subclasses 417 and 462. Permits young adults from countries with reciprocal bilateral arrangements (with Australia) to undertake short term work or study while holidaying in Australia.

Temporary visas

Temporary entrant visas are visas permitting persons to come to Australia on a temporary basis for specific purposes. Main contributors are tourists, international students, those on temporary work visas, business visitors and working holiday makers.


Permission or authority granted by the Australian government to foreign nationals to travel to, enter and/or remain in Australia for a period of time or indefinitely. More visa information is also available from Department of Home Affairs - Visa list.


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ABSAustralian Bureau of Statistics
ACTAustralian Capital Territory
COVID-19Coronavirus disease
Home AffairsAustralian Government Department of Home Affairs
NSWNew South Wales
NTNorthern Territory
NZNew Zealand
OADoverseas arrivals and departures
OTS-POverseas Travel Statistics - Provisional
SASouth Australia
SACCStandard Australian Classification of Countries
SARSpecial Administrative Region
TRIPSTravel and Immigration Processing System
UKUnited Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man
USAUnited States of America
WAWestern Australia
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