About Us


​A subpoena is a legal document issued by a court or tribunal at the request of a party to proceedings to compel a person to produce documents or give evidence at a hearing or trial.

Addressing a subpoena to the Department

Subpoenas should be addressed to:

The Proper Officer
Department of Home Affairs
Level 4, 6 Chan Street
Belconnen ACT 2616

Note: A subpoena to give evidence should be addressed to the individual officer who will be required to attend court or tribunal to give evidence.

Service of subpoenas

Responses for all subpoenas served on the Department are coordinated by a central processing unit within the Department.

Subpoenas can be served on the Department by:

  • email
  • post to the nominated addresses below
  • personal delivery to the nominated address below

Address for service of subpoenas



Note: The Department’s preferred method of service of all subpoenas is by email.



The Proper Officer
Subpoena Team
Legal Division
Department of Home Affairs
GPO Box 9984
Sydney NSW 2001


The Proper Officer
Subpoena Team
Legal Division
Department of Home Affairs
PO Box 25
Belconnen ACT 2616

Note: If you serve a subpoena by post, you should also send a copy of the subpoena to the Department by email.

Personal Delivery


6 Chan Street
Belconnen ACT 2616

Costs requested at time of service

The Department requests a payment of $40.00 be made at the time of service of a subpoena. The payment is towards the costs incurred by the Department of accessing, collating and producing the requested documents to the appropriate court or tribunal. The Department reserves the right to apply to the court or tribunal for the subpoena applicant to pay for any reasonable additional costs incurred in complying with the subpoena.

If the subpoena is served by email, the Department will accept an undertaking from a solicitor to pay the requested costs.  A copy of the subpoena with a cheque stapled to the subpoena should be posted to either of the above postal addresses. The cheque should made payable to the “Department of Home Affairs”. The cheque should also have the details of the subpoena printed on the back of the cheque in case the documents become separated.

Documents that can be requested in a subpoena

A subpoena for production of documents must clearly identify the documents to be produced to the court or tribunal. If the documents are not clearly identified or the terms of the subpoena are ambiguous, it might not be possible for the Department to produce documents or the correct documents in response to the subpoena.

A subpoena might only require the production of documents or things which exist at the date of service. A subpoena cannot require the Department to create a document to comply with the subpoena.

Where possible, a subpoena should specify a date period for documents, for example “visa applications made between 1 January 2014 and 1 June 2014”.

Providing information to help us locate documents quickly

Where the subpoena requests documents that relate to an individual, corporation or a business, the subpoena should contain the following information:

1. Individuals:

  • Full name
  • Aliases
  • Date of birth
  • Passport number (if known)

2. Corporations (including companies):

  • Entity name
  • Australian Business Number (ABN) or Australian Company Number (ACN)

3. Businesses:

  • Full business or trading name
  • Australian Business Number (ABN)

Date documents to be produced to the court or tribunal

The Department requires a reasonable timeframe in which to respond to a subpoena. In general, a minimum of two weeks is considered reasonable for straight-forward requests. However, the timeframe required to respond will be considerably longer than two weeks where:

  • the subpoena requests a large volume of documents;
  • documents might be held outside Australia;
  • documents might be held in archives; or
  • documents contain sensitive material which must be reviewed before release.

Where required, we will seek an extension to the date the documents are required to be produced to the court or tribunal.

If you require further guidance on timeframes, send an email to: subpoenas@homeaffairs.gov.au before a subpoena is issued.

Discussing what documents we hold before a subpoena is issued

Before you request the court or tribunal to issue a subpoena, we can discuss with you:

  • the type of documents we usually hold;
  • how to describe a document you are seeking; and
  • the information that certain types of documents usually contain.

To contact us, you can send an email to subpoenas@homeaffairs.gov.au. Ensure you include the details of your query and return telephone number.

Note: Under the Privacy Act 1988 and the Australian Border Force Act 2015, we cannot provide the following information before a subpoena is issued:

  • any specific information about documents we hold;
  • any personal information;
  • information about what systems we use; or
  • confirmation about whether the documents actually exist.

After a subpoena for documents is served

One of our officers might contact you or your solicitor to discuss the documents sought by you and the legal purpose or justification for the request for documents. This might involve you or your solicitor providing us with background information about the proceedings and why the documents sought by you are relevant to those proceedings.

Returning the subpoenaed documents

Documents are sent direct to the court or tribunal that issued the subpoena and not to the subpoena applicant.

Objecting to a subpoena

We can apply to the court to set aside a subpoena in whole or in part in limited circumstances. For example, where the subpoena is oppressive or unduly burdensome or where it calls for sensitive material that should be protected from disclosure.

We will only object to a subpoena as a last resort and will, where practicable, first seek to negotiate with the subpoena applicant or their solicitor and seek their agreement to the Department’s requests.

Restrictions on using a subpoenaed document

A person can only use documents obtained by subpoena for the purposes of the case in which the subpoena is issued. You must not disclose the contents or give a copy of any documents produced in response to a subpoena to any other person (except the lawyer representing you) without the permission of the court or tribunal.