Lonely Planet Writer

Australia wants to drop passports in favour of biometric scanning within three years

Australia plans to replace physical passports with biometric scanning by 2020, according to the country’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Futuristic fingerprint scanning device biometric security system
Futuristic fingerprint scanning device biometric security system

The plans, due to begin this year and be fully implemented by the end of the decade, will see a combination of fingerprint, face and iris scanning at unmanned electronic stations used to identify and process international travellers at airports and other entry and exit points. Peter Dutton, Australia’s minister for immigration and border protection, said biometrics could be used to process up to 90% of travellers and is part of a so-called Seamless Traveller Initiative the country is putting into action at a cost of almost 100 million Australian dollars.

Fingerprint lock system
Fingerprint lock system Image by Getty Images

The scheme will also see the government replace the SmartGates currently in use at airports around the globe, with the biometric processing that replaces it set to be a “world first”. The government wants to begin the first trial of the technology in July at Canberra Airport, with early plans suggesting it could then be introduced in Sydney and Melbourne in November. The hope is that freeing up immigration staff at airports will enable them to focus on any passengers of interest rather than manning passport gates.

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