Freight Movement Protocol and Code – frequently asked questions


What is the national Freight Movement Protocol and Code?

The national Freight Movement Protocol PDF: 183 KB and Code PDF: 192 KB (the Code) provide clear and simple guidance for moving freight across Australian borders in a COVID-safe way.

The national Code has two parts:

  • The Freight Movement Protocol which provides guidance on the safe movement of freight across Australian borders, and
  • The Freight Movement Code which sets out compliance and enforcement measures to help the industry stay safe.

The Code provides guidance at a national level to streamline requirements for industry and governments. It is important to remember that state and territory health orders and laws still apply to interstate freight workers. These requirements are at the discretion of the states and territories and can change quickly due to local outbreaks. Make sure you keep across the latest COVID-19 testing and permit requirements by visiting state and territory government websites for more information.

The Code was developed through close consultation with industry and was agreed by National Cabinet in July 2020. In August 2021, the Code was updated by Transport Ministers due to the COVID-19 Delta outbreak.

Why do we need the National Code?

All Australian states and territories have introduced border control measures and health orders in response to COVID-19. This means as freight workers travel across different borders they can be subject to different rules, including exemption processes, use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and self-isolation and COVID-19 testing requirements.

The Code provides national guidance to make it easier for freight workers to understand their obligations. This helps to keep our freight industry and the wider community safe.

Who does it affect?

The Code applies to freight workers moving across state and territory borders, including:

  • Drivers of any heavy vehicles over 4.5 GVM
  • Rail crew
  • Support workers for a heavy vehicle or train including workers carrying out repairs or moving empty trailers and those essential to the supply chain but not travelling in movers to carry freight, and rail track workers.

It does not apply to freight movements that stay within each state and territory.

Will the Code change as the COVID-19 situation changes?

The Code will continue to be updated as necessary in line with the latest health advice. Any updates to the Code will be agreed with the states and territories and in consultation with industry. Updates are likely to occur at milestones, such as once we reach the 80% fully-vaccinated target for eligible Australians. Any updates will be communicated to industry and the broader public.

Where can I find more information?

Requirements for crossing borders, such as permits, are at the discretion of each state and territory. This table has links to various government websites, including transport departments and health advice. State and territory social media channels are also frequently updated to provide the latest advice.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator also provide a one-stop-shop for regular updates of the individual requirements in each state and territory, for road and rail respectively.

For freight workers

Before you travel, read our 8 Steps to Safe Freight PDF: 664 KB to make sure you are across the requirements and to help you plan ahead for a safe journey when you travel across borders.

Moving Freight Interstate? Check the 8. 1. Take the test 2. Have a COVID-19 plan 3. Get the right information 4, Prepare what you need to cross the border 5. Check your health 6. Wear a mask and sanitise 7. Check in 8. Keep your distance

What are the COVID-19 testing requirements?

If you cross state and territory borders you must have a negative COVID-19 test result in a rolling 7-day period. Some states or territories require extra testing depending on the local COVID-19 situation. Visit state and territory government websites for the latest information.  

Can I use rapid antigen testing?

New types of COVID-19 testing (such as rapid antigen testing) will be recognised under the Code, once they are approved and rolled out for use by relevant health authorities. This may vary from state to state. To be on the safe side, you should use PCR tests unless a state or territory advises they will accept a rapid antigen test result.

What testing evidence do I need?

You must always carry evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result from within the last seven days. This may be in the form of a verified SMS with results from your testing provider. You may need to show this result to an authorised officer, such as a Police Officer or a Protective Services Officer (or other person under such person’s direction) when requested to do so.

What vaccination evidence do I need?

To enter some jurisdictions, you will need proof of a TGA approved vaccination. This varies from state to state, and may require evidence of a first dose; second dose; or proof that you have booked your second dose. Make sure you have the latest information from the state or territory you want to enter. Evidence of a vaccination may include written or digital proof, such as the vaccination certificate from Medicare. Any exemptions to vaccination requirements will usually require a certificate from a legally qualified medical practitioner.

Where can I get tested?

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) route planner can help you find a COVID-19 testing site on your journey. The latest sites are also be listed on state and territory COVID-19 websites.

Testing sites are at safe and easy-to-access locations, but are generally not located at state and territory borders to help reduce congestion and keep freight flowing. More testing sites are being set up along key freight routes, at intermodals and other key freight hubs. For a map of freight-friendly sites, including opening hours, visit the NHVR’s COVID-19 Support Map. You can also get tested at any of the sites available to the general public, but keep in mind these sites may have vehicle size and parking limits.  

What happens at the border?

All states and territories have introduced border control measures for COVID-19. Before you leave, you should plan ahead and review the local requirements for the area you are travelling to. Make sure you have a mask, your permit, evidence of your negative COVID-19 test, vaccination or proof of exemption from vaccination on hand when crossing the border.

When you reach the border, you should have priority access to a ‘wave-through’ lane to ensure you are not delayed. You may be checked for a permit and evidence of testing.

What happens if I test positive after crossing a border?

If you are told you have tested positive in a different state or territory to the one you are currently in, there are some steps you should follow. Firstly, you should not enter new premises. You should speak to your employer and seek medical assistance as soon as possible. Make sure you self-isolate and don’t continue on your journey. You should also inform the health authorities in the jurisdiction you are currently in.

Your COVIDSafe work plan should cover this scenario. If it doesn’t, have a chat to your employer and add it in. As always, make sure you follow the health orders and emergency management directions for the jurisdiction you are in.

Do I need to be vaccinated?

Vaccination reduces the risk of infection and transmission of COVID-19. You are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated if you are eligible. Getting vaccinated keeps you safe and our freight industry strong. In some jurisdictions you are eligible for priority vaccination by showing your heavy vehicle licence.

In some jurisdictions, you may require evidence of at least one dose of an authorised COVID-19 vaccine to cross the border.

If you have personal questions about being vaccinated, have a chat to your GP or a trusted health professional.

What happens if I do not follow the national Code?

The Code is designed to keep you and the community safe. It is important that you follow the guidance under the Code and comply with the rules in each state and territory. Enforcement officers conduct random checks to make sure you have been tested and are carrying a valid permit to travel and work. You may be fined if you break the rules.

For businesses

What does the national Code mean for my business?

The Code is designed to help provide you and your employees with clear and simple guidance to move freight safely across state and territory borders. It also sets out nationally consistent COVID-19 testing requirements to create a safer and stronger freight industry and to streamline your obligations as an employer.

It is important that you still regularly check the local health orders and COVID-19 requirements in each state and territory that you operate in. Things can quickly change due to local outbreaks and there are a small number of exceptions to the National Code depending on the local COVID-19 situation. You can see the most up to date information by visiting state and territory government websites.

How do I ensure my employees follow the national Code?

You should have a conversation with your staff about the importance of complying with COVID-19 requirements when carrying out their jobs. The Code provides nationally consistent guidance to streamline the requirements and help your employees understand testing obligations.

To help keep you and your employees COVID-safe, follow our 8 Steps to Safe Freight checklist PDF: 209 KB. You can also download a poster version PDF: 664 KB of this checklist to display around your place of business. You can also encourage them to visit this website for more information and to keep up-to-date with changes on state and territory government websites.

Finally, you should already have established a COVIDSafe work plan for your business. States and territories will mutually recognise your COVIDSafe work plan as long as it has already been agreed by one jurisdiction. If you are a new business or have not yet completed a COVIDSafe work plan, visit your state or territory’s COVID-19 website to get started.

If one of my employees does not comply, what does this mean for me?

The enforceable measures under the Code are implemented through each jurisdiction’s health orders. The consequences for not following health orders or not having the correct documentation will vary from state to state, but may include a fine or being turned away from the border.

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