Section 184D Customs Act 1901 | Request for Boarding or Landing


The Legislation

Section 184D of the Customs Act 1901 (Cth) deals with Request for Boarding or Landing and is extracted below.

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184D Identifying an aircraft and requesting it to land for boarding

Application of section

(1) This section allows the commander of a Commonwealth aircraft to make requests of the pilot of another aircraft that:

(a) if the other aircraft is an Australian aircraft—is over anywhere except a foreign country; and
(b) if the other aircraft is not an Australian aircraft—is over Australia.

Requesting information to identify an aircraft

(2) If the commander cannot identify the other aircraft, the commander may:

(a) use his or her aircraft to intercept the other aircraft in accordance with the practices recommended in Annex 2 (headed “Rules of the Air”) to the Convention on International Civil Aviation done at Chicago on 7 December 1944 (that was adopted in accordance with that Convention); and
(b) request the pilot of the other aircraft to disclose to the commander:

(i) the identity of the other aircraft; and
(ii) the identity of all persons on the other aircraft; and
(iii) the flight path of the other aircraft; and
(iv) the flight plan of the other aircraft.

Requesting aircraft to land for boarding

(3) The commander may request the pilot of the other aircraft to land it at the nearest airport, or at the nearest suitable landing field, in Australia for boarding for the purposes of this Act if:

(a) the pilot does not comply with a request under subsection (2); or
(b) the commander reasonably suspects that the other aircraft is or has been involved in a contravention, or attempted contravention, of this Act or section 72.13 or Division 307 of the Criminal Code; or
(c) the commander reasonably suspects that the other aircraft is carrying goods satisfying either or both of the following subparagraphs:

(i) the goods are connected, whether directly or indirectly, with the carrying out of a terrorist act, whether a terrorist act has occurred, is occurring or is likely to occur;
(ii) the existence or the shipment of the goods prejudices, or is likely to prejudice, Australia’s defence or security or international peace and security.

Note: Section 185 gives power to board the aircraft and search it once it has landed.

Means of making request

(4) Any reasonable means may be used to make a request under this section.

Request still made even if pilot did not receive etc. request

(5) To avoid doubt, a request is still made under this section even if the pilot did not receive or understand the request.

Pilot must comply with request

(6) The pilot of the other aircraft must comply with a request made under this section.

Penalty: Imprisonment for 2 years.

(6A) Subsection (6) does not apply if the pilot of the other aircraft has a reasonable excuse.

Note: A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to the matter in subsection (6A) (see subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code).


(7) In this section, Australian aircraft means an aircraft that:

(a) is an Australian aircraft as defined in the Civil Aviation Act 1988; or
(b) is not registered under the law of a foreign country and is either wholly owned by, or solely operated by:

(i) one or more residents of Australia; or
(ii) one or more Australian nationals; or
(iii) one or more residents of Australia and one or more Australian nationals.
For the purposes of this definition, Australian national and resident of Australia have the same meanings as in the Shipping Registration Act 1981.