No-one would miss scenes like this at airports if biometric technology streamlined the departure process.
No-one would miss scenes like this at airports if biometric technology streamlined the departure process. News Corp Australia

Are passports the next travel document to go?

PASSENGER departure cards disappear from Australia's international airports from today and passports could be the next travel documents to go.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection is trialling contactless biometric authentication technology that would remove the need for a known traveller to present a physical passport in Australian airports.

The technology includes facial recognition cameras along with iris and fingerprint scanners to verify a traveller's identity.

Canberra International Airport was the first to trial the technology, allowing travellers who have previously departed Australia to pass through Customs without presenting their passport.

A Department of Immigration and Border Protection spokesman said it was part of a broader strategy to further streamline the traveller experience.

"Our goal is for 90 per cent of eligible travellers to self-process through the border by 2020," said the spokesman.

Outbound passenger card — consigned to history on July 1, 2017.
Outbound passenger card — consigned to history on July 1, 2017. Supplied

The move follows on from the replacement of outbound passenger cards from today with an electronic exchange of information between airlines and governments.

Travellers leaving Australia no longer have to fill out the double-sided card bringing the country into line with most others throughout the world.

Australian Federation of Travel Agents CEO Jayson Westbury said the step was long overdue.

"It's good for Australia, it's good for Aussie travellers," said Mr Westbury.

"It's a celebration of Australia finally catching up with the rest of the world, in that we don't have to fill out a form to leave."

He said the proposed passport changes were also a positive step providing travellers did not forget to take the document with them.

"It is still going to be the only true globally recognised form of identification, so it's still a very critical document," Mr Westbury said.

However Director of Security Programs at IT company Unisys, John Kendall, said passports had become little more than "security blankets" for travellers.

"It's nice to have a passport at different stages along the way because people are used to it but it's really not necessary," Mr Kendall said.

"It would be nice to know you could keep your passport in your bag, have it there when you need it but not be required to pull it out every step of the process."

He said biometric technology was more secure than a physical passport which could easily be lost or forged.

"Biometrics can be compared against extensive databases, harnessing aggregated data to confirm a traveller is who they say they are," said Mr Kendall.

"By analysing more complex biometric data, border security processes will be faster and more efficient, creating a better experience for passengers and adding greater security."

Originally published as Could passports be scrapped next?

News Corp Australia


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