Frequently asked questions - changes to registration, subscription and the website
We know change takes time. We’ve prepared some frequently asked questions to assist with the change.
Q. I’ve heard registration is changing. What do I need to do?
A. That’s right. We no longer ask you to register your overseas travel with us before you go ‘just in case’ something happens. Instead, we will activate a crisis page if there is a situation overseas that could affect Australians. At that point in time, if you're affected and need our help you can contact us.
Q. But how will I contact you if I’m injured?
A. Don’t worry, anyone can contact us on your behalf. Keep in touch with friends and family back home. Give them a copy of your itinerary before you go so they know where you are.
Q. So do I need the internet to contact you in a crisis?
A. No you don’t. You can call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:
- +61 2 6261 3305 (from overseas)
- 1300 555 135 (within Australia)
Q. I liked logging my itinerary with Smartraveller. It gave me peace of mind for the Government to know where I am. Why are you making these changes?
A. Very few Australians ever registered their details with us. The data we received was often incomplete or inaccurate. This delayed getting help to those in need.
Q. But surely the pre-departure registration information is helpful if there’s a crisis overseas?
A. In our experience of responding to crises for over 16 years, most people who need our help either contact us themselves or their family does. The new system reflects this reality and allows us to focus on Australians most in need. Ultimately, we need to know who needs help, not who is safe and well.
Q. Okay, but how do you know this new system will work?
A. The United Kingdom made a similar change five years ago and it has been well received by the public. It has allowed them to focus on British nationals who need help in a crisis and improved their response time. They have a crisis hotline that’s activated when there’s a major incident. As will we.
Q. So when do these changes take place?
A. The new site launched on 21st of November.
Q. Is this a reduction in service to lower costs?
A. Not at all. This is to improve our response time, which is absolutely essential to helping Australians in need who are involved in crises overseas. It’s our priority to provide an effective and modern consular service.
Q. I’m not very computer savvy. Will the emergency contact form be hard to use?
A. No. The crisis page will be simple and straightforward. The new site is mobile friendly too so you can do it from your phone or a computer. If you don’t want to use the form, call us!
Q. Surely the Government wants to know if Australians are going to dangerous places like Afghanistan or Syria…
A. All Australian travellers are responsible for their own decisions. For countries we list as ‘Do Not Travel’ destinations, we advise Australians not to go there and to leave if they are there. The Government’s ability to provide assistance in these locations is severely limited, regardless of whether or not you tell us you’re there. Australians who feel the Government should know they are in a dangerous location should think very carefully about whether they are making a wise travel choice for their situation.
Q. I’ve registered with you previously – what are you going to do with all that information when the old system retires?
A. Personal information stored in the current Smartraveller registration system will be handled in accordance with DFAT’s Records Disposal Authority issued in line with the Archives Act 1983 (Cth).
Q. Why do current Australian passports include a safe travel tip to register before travelling?
The text in the current series of Australian passports was written in 2013. We no longer encourage Australians to register overseas travel with Smartraveller (DFAT). The next series of passports will not include a reference to registration.
We encourage you to leave your itinerary and contact details with your family, friends or employer and stay in touch when you’re overseas. If a crisis occurs, you can either contact us directly or your family, friends, employer, travel agent or tour operator will contact us on your behalf. We are committed to provide consular assistance in line with the Consular Services Charter.
Q. Okay, so what can I do before I go to stay safe overseas?
A. Glad you asked! Please read our travel advice! Make sure you are well informed and prepared for your travel. Subscribe to updates via email and SMS so we can alert you to any changes in the safety or security situation of your destination.
Q. Is subscription changing?
A. We’re adding SMS functionality! This is a supplementary option to the email subscription. It’s great for Australians to have the option to receive alerts via SMS or email. SMS alerts will be sent for critical updates.
Q. Why should I subscribe?
A. Subscription gives you security and safety updates straight to your inbox. You will be alerted to any important changes at your destination.
Q. I’m already subscribed. Do I need to do anything?
A. You’ll need to re-subscribe on the new site when it’s live. We apologise for the hassle. We are not carrying over the current subscription base.
Q. Even if I’m okay, I like to be contacted if I’m in a destination that’s affected by a crisis.
A. Subscription will get you this. If you’re subscribed to travel advice updates we’ll send you an SMS and email to alert you to any major incidents.
Read more on the subscription information page.
Q. My business links to your API/RSS feed, will these be affected when the new website is live?
A. We will automatically reroute these services and don’t anticipate any problems. If you have an existing API and/or RSS feed to the Smartraveller website, it’s a good idea to run a health check to confirm they’re working when the new site is live. If you have any technical issues don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.