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Protocol Guidelines

5.2 Missions and posts - freedom of communication

5.2.1 Diplomatic bags and couriers

Official diplomatic bags, clearly marked and sealed, will not be screened, opened or inspected.

Diplomatic couriers and their personal baggage, however, are subject to normal aviation security screening procedures.

Missions and posts can arrange with Australian Border Force for a staff member to have escorted access to restricted areas of an airport to meet an incoming flight carrying diplomatic or consular bags (whether accompanied by a diplomatic courier or not).

Any use of a diplomatic bag or courier to import or export items in contravention of Australia's laws, including firearms or narcotic drugs, will be treated with the utmost seriousness.

5.2.2 Radio transmitters

A licence is required to operate a radio transmitter.

A request for a licence should be made via note verbale to Protocol Branch stating the following:

  • reciprocal approval will be given to an Australian diplomatic mission or consular post in the country making the request
  • technical specifications and operating arrangements of the equipment will conform with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)'s requirements (missions and posts should seek ACMA's guidance before requesting a licence and inform Protocol Branch of the approach to ACMA)
  • any physical constraints and procedural requirements of relevant state and local government authorities will be met (state governments, local councils and other bodies exercise varying powers in this area and DFAT can neither override their requirements nor influence their decisions).

After giving in-principle approval to the request, Protocol Branch will refer it to ACMA for completion of technical requirements and licence issue.

Normal commercial arrangements apply to the installation and operation of communications equipment such as telephones and short-range VHF/UHF hand-held and mobile radio transceivers. Missions and posts should deal directly with a telecommunications carrier for telephone services and with ACMA for radios.

See chapter 15.6.1 for information on the carriage of communications equipment by foreign security personnel.

5.2.3 Satellite dishes

Missions should inform Protocol Branch of their intention to buy or import and install a satellite dish. In the ACT, the approval of the National Capital Authority (for premises on Crown Land) or the ACT Planning and Land Authority (for premises on ACT land) is required for any external works, even for a dish of minor size mounted on an existing roof. Outside the ACT, missions or posts should check with local councils on their requirements.

Last Updated: 14 February 2019
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