Special purpose codes

Latest release
Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) Edition 3
Reference period
July 2021 - June 2026

Special purpose codes allow address data to be coded to a non-spatial value. This occurs where there is insufficient information to code to a physical geographic area. For example, where someone is in transit on Census of Population and Housing night or where an incomplete address has been supplied.

Types of special purpose codes

  • Migratory - used to code people who are in transit on long distance trains, buses, aircraft and long haul road transport vehicles on Census of Population and Housing night.
  • Offshore - used to code people living offshore for example on oil rigs and drilling platforms. It is also used for expeditioners in the Australian Antarctic Territory.
  • Shipping - used to code people who are on board vessels in Australian waters which are in, or between, Australian ports on Census of Population and Housing night. For Mesh Blocks there are multiple Shipping special purpose codes that represent individual ports.
  • Outside Australia - used to facilitate particular ABS statistical releases. It does not have a geographic region and has a code of “ZZZZ” so that it can be easily distinguished from all other geographies.
  • No Usual Address - used to code people with no fixed residential address.

Special purpose coding structure

The following examples show the special purpose code structure for Mesh Blocks in NSW.

Migratory, Offshore and Shipping example
S/TMesh BlocksDescription


No Usual Address example
S/TMesh BlocksDescription
10000009499No Usual Address


Outside Australia example
S/TMesh BlocksDescription
ZZZZZZZZZZZOutside Australia


Collection specific coding conventions

ABS collections use various conventions to denote circumstances such as: not applicable, and overseas visitors.

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