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Places you can't go

​It is a criminal offence to enter or stay in a current declared area​.

The government is concerned about Australians who travel to conflict zones and return to Australia with skills and intentions acquired from fighting or training with terrorist groups. The areas targeted by the 'declared area' provisions are extremely dangerous locations.

A declared area cannot cover an entire country.

Declared area offence

S​ection 119.2 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 ​​makes it an offence for a person to intentionally enter, or remain in, a declared area in a foreign country where the person knows, or should know, that the area is a declared area. The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years' imprisonment.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs may declare an area in a foreign country if they are satisfied that a listed terrorist organisation is engaging in a hostile activity in that area. Australia's security and intelligence agencies are responsible for providing advice to inform the Minister's decision.

For more information on the process and requirements that apply to the declaration of an area, go to the Protocol for declaring an area page.

If the Minister for Foreign Affairs declares an area, information about that declaration, including the Statement of Reasons in support of the declaration, will be available on this page.

Announcing declared areas

If the Minister for Foreign Affairs declares an area, the government will inform the public by publishing it widely.

Publications might include:

The declaration will include a detailed description of the declared area. This makes sure the public is able to easily identify the area. The description will include a map of the area.

The declaration will also include a Statement of Reasons, which outlines information about the hostile activity of the listed terrorist organisation in the area. The Statement of Reasons provides transparency about the basis of the Minister’s decision to declare the area.

Travelling to a declared area

It is an offence to enter or remain in a declared area.

However, there is an exception if you enter or remain in a declared area for a legitimate purpose(s).

Legitimate purposes are:

  • providing humanitarian aid
  • making a genuine visit to a family member
  • working in a professional capacity as a journalist
  • performing official government or United Nations duties
  • appearing before a court or tribunal
  • any other purpose prescribed by the regulations.

Visiting friends, business purposes or religious reasons are not legitimate purposes. A person who enters or remains in a declared area for these purposes may be prosecuted for a criminal offence.

A person who wishes to rely on the exception to the offence and establish that they have or had a legitimate purpose(s) to travel to or remain in a declared area will need to provide information to the court supporting this purpose(s). There is no process for obtaining pre-approval to travel to a declared area.

Everyone should register overseas travel plans on the Smartraveller website.

More on declared areas

Previous declared areas
Protocol for declaring an area