Australia Builds up its ePassport System

Getting into and out of different countries via airports has historically been burdensome. Long are the hours a passport holder can spend waiting in line to be vetted by immigration or customs before continuing on to a flight.

This is the kind of thing that has, in the past, turned preparing for a flight into a daylong affair. But with innovations like the ePassport​ — an advanced electronic machine-readable travel document (eMRTD) that strengthens border security and protects citizen identities through an embedded electronic chip and encrypted personal data. — getting through the airport promises to be safer and more expedient. It’s an avenue that many countries, Australia among them, are choosing to pursue.

Australia Builds ePassport Program Into Eight Primary Terminals
Australia currently operates an ePassport system called Smartgate at its eight major flight hubs, and according to The Australian, this border security system will only be expanded within the country in the coming months.

An ePassport system allows for fliers to go through the border verification process themselves, much as one would buy a ticket using a self-service machine. This personnel-free approach to identity confirmation has gone a long way toward speeding up the flow of flyer traffic at Australia’s different airports, and the use of the technology is so popular that The Australian reported that automatic border processing gates have already been installed in Sydney, Perth and Melbourne, with more on the way this year.

“Our goal is to provide all major ePassport holders access to self service arrivals processing by the end of 2015,” said Scott Morrison, Australia’s Immigration Manager.

The growing use of this automated system couldn’t come soon enough for Australia, since the country is already dealing with an unprecedented wave of travel to and from the nation, with passenger airport transactions projected to grow from 33 million in 2013 to roughly 50 million in 2020.

By 2015, the majority of Australian citizens are expected to be using ePassports, Morrison said, according to CNET.

The demand for and increasing use of biometric data in flight transactions attests to a significant effort on Australia’s part not only to speed up airport operations, but also to ensure a greater level of security.

“The future traveler will pass through streamlined automated passport control systems that examine retained biometric data and that contained in the travelers’ passport, against the traveler themselves upon physical presentation at the border,” Morrison explained.


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