International travellers departing Australia may soon wave goodbye to those green paper-based ‘outgoing passenger cards’ under new plans to streamline border processing by the Australian Government.
Also potentially for the chop: the similar orange ‘incoming passenger cards’ completed by travellers arriving into Australia.
Much of the information recorded on both cards is already accessible electronically by government agencies, making the paper cards largely redundant.
“The Department of Immigration and Border Protection is currently consulting with stakeholders on the removal of the paper-based Outgoing Passenger Card (OPC) and Incoming Passenger Card (IPC),” a spokesperson for the Department told Australian Business Traveller.
“Decisions about the timeframe for removal of the cards will be made after stakeholder consultation is completed.”
It’s understood that outgoing passenger cards are planned to disappear first – likely between mid-2017 and early 2018 – followed by incoming passenger cards in 2018/19.
Removal of these cards is currently contingent upon having similar information captured in other ways.
For passenger names, passport details and contact information, that could be achieved through existing airline ‘APIS’ systems which allow government agencies to access traveller data, although declarations for prohibited and restricted items would remain an issue.
Should the cards be axed, it’s not yet known whether travellers would simply verbalise any declarations at the border, or whether these would be made electronically in another way, such as via the SmartGate kiosks, at airport check-in counters or online prior to travel.
In any case, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection acknowledges that “removing paper-based Passenger Cards is integral to achieving an automated traveller experience… (for) the 50 million (international) travellers expected annually by 2020.”
PREVIOUS | There could be one less bit of paperwork standing between you and your flight – or even better, your airport lounge – from next year, as the Federal Government looks to ditch those green departure forms for outbound travellers.
The cards would be put out to pasture in favour of automated outbound SmartGate passport readers, which have already been installed at most international airports around the country.
Passengers using these gates currently hand their departure card to a Border Force officer or drop them into a collection box.
Much of the data which passengers must scribble onto the cards is already captured through their passport, with the exception of questions on your occupation, reason for travel and if you're carrying more than A$10,000 out of the country.
The review of outgoing passenger cards (OPCs) "is anticipated to be completed by early 2016", a spokesperson for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection told Australian Business Traveller.
"The review will provide recommendations about how and when the paper OPC can be removed, while meeting stakeholder information requirements."
The spokesperson added that "a further review of the incoming passenger cards" will be conducted in the future.
Earlier this year Australian Business Traveller gave the SmartGate system a first-hand trial run at Brisbane Airport, with the entire process taking just 55 seconds from clearing security to being airside in the international terminal.
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