Airport Body Scanners—Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently asked Questions
- What are body scanners?
- Why are body scanners only being introduced at international airports?
- What other countries have introduced body scanners?
- Is Body Scanner information available in other languages?
- How will people be selected for a body scan?
- Why a no opt-out policy?
- What if I refuse a body scan?
- What if I can't go through the body scanner due to health issues?
- Will children be selected for a body scan?
- What procedure is involved when undergoing a body scan?
- How long does a scan take?
- Are there any health risks associated with body scanners?
- What type of technology does the body scanner use?
- What about radiation from X-rays?
- Why has the European Union banned body scanners?
- What about people with cancer or a high history of radiation exposure?
- Are body scanners safe for workers in the vicinity of the machine?
- What about pilots and flight crew who fly regularly?
- What about reports on the danger of terahertz technology?
- What if I am pregnant or think I might be pregnant?
- Will my privacy be protected?
- What is automatic threat recognition technology?
- Will there be naked images?
Body scanners represent the most advanced passenger screening technology available and can detect a range of sophisticated threats on a person's body or within their clothing. Body scanners can detect both metallic and non-metallic items, including prohibited items, components of improvised explosive devices and weapons.
Body scanners are a proven technology and have been used overseas for aviation security screening purposes since 2007. All body scanners used in Australia have undergone stringent testing in line with aviation security standards to ensure their effectiveness.
See our Passenger Fact Sheet for more details:
- Passenger Fact Sheet PDF: 905 KB
Australia's aviation security regime is based on an intelligence-led assessment of risk. Aircraft departing international airports in Australia are exposed to a variety of risks that are not present, or are less pronounced, in the domestic context.
Body scanners are used for aviation security screening in several other countries including the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Thailand and the Netherlands.
Body Scanner information is available in 11 languages other than English, including Arabic, Cantonese, Indonesian, Thai, Russian, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Mandarin and Vietnamese:
Any person may be selected to undergo a body scan on a random basis. Selection will not be based on race, age or religion.
Body scanning technology can identify a variety of sophisticated threats that cannot be detected by existing screening technology. Walk through metal detectors and the style of frisk search currently used at Australian airports simply cannot provide the same security outcome a body scanner can.
The only method of screening that could provide a similar security outcome to that of a body scanner is the type of invasive full body frisk search conducted overseas. The Government has been resolute in not introducing such searches as part of our airport security arrangements. For this reason and in the interests of security and privacy, passengers selected for body scanner screening cannot choose inferior or significantly intrusive alternatives. Accordingly, the Government has decided a no opt-out policy will be enforced in relation to screening at airports.
If a person refuses to undergo a body scan, and they have no medical or physical condition which prevents them for undertaking a body scan, they will be refused clearance and not allowed to pass through the screening point. They therefore will not be allowed to board their aircraft. This policy not only applies to passengers, but also to pilots, other aircrew, government officers and airport staff.
The Government understands some people will be unable to undergo a body scan for a variety of reasons. In order to undergo a body scan, a person must be able to stand upright and still for several seconds with their hands above their head.
Persons with medical or physical conditions that prevent them from undertaking a body scan will be offered alternative screening methods suitable to their circumstances. These alternative screening methods will consist of those already used at Australia's aviation security screening points.
Infants and young children under 140cms will not be selected to undergo a body scan.
Prior to being screened by a body scanner, all items need to be removed from a passenger's pockets including wallets, mobile phones, tissues and boarding passes. Passengers will also be required to remove heavy coats, bulky items of clothing and large jewellery.
Passengers will be asked to step into the body scanner and stand with their legs shoulder width apart with their hands raised above their head. They will be required to hold this position for approximately two seconds while the scan takes place. Following the instructions from the screening officer, the passenger will then exit the body scanner. After the screening officer reviews the scan result and resolves any alarms that have occurred, the passenger may move on and collect their personal belongings.
The scan takes approximately two seconds. Once the scan is complete, it will take several seconds for the body scanner to analyse the scan.