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SmartGate is an automated border processing system being introduced by the Australian Border Force and New Zealand Customs Service. It is a secure and simple system that performs the customs and immigration checks which would normally require manual processing when a traveler arrives in either Australia or New Zealand.

SmartGate eligibility[edit]


According to Australian Border Force, the following travelers are eligible to use SmartGate when going through passport control in Australia when arriving from a foreign country:[1]

  • Holders of an ePassport issued by the following countries or territories, aged 16 years or over:
  • Holders of an Australia Australian ePassport aged between 10 and 15 years, travelling with a minimum of two adults

Airline crew who meet these criteria can choose to use SmartGate instead of going through the crew lane.

Australian Border Force is expanding the scheme to more countries. The list above only includes nationalities who are permanently eligible to use SmartGate, and more nationalities may be eligible to use SmartGate in selected major airports, which will maintain a separate list of countries under trial arrangements.[1]

Australian and New Zealand ePassport holders travelling on military orders are not eligible to use SmartGate in Australia.

The eligibility of using SmartGate does not exempt travelers from visa obligations. Prior to their arrival to Australia, they still need to obtain eVisitor, ETA, or subclass 600 visas depending on their nationality.[1]

New Zealand[edit]

The following travelers are eligible to use SmartGate when going through passport control in New Zealand when arriving from and departing to a foreign country:[2]

  • Holders of an ePassport issued by the following countries, aged 12 years or over:


SmartGate is currently available for use at the following airports when arriving on an international flight:[1][2]


 New Zealand:

SmartGate is currently available for use at the following airports when departing on an international flight:[1][2]


  • Adelaide
  • Brisbane
  • Melbourne
  • Sydney

 New Zealand:

  • Auckland
  • Christchurch
  • Wellington


In Australia, SmartGates are currently available at Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney international airports for eligible arriving passengers.[1]

SmartGate takes a live image of a traveller's face, and using facial recognition technology, will match this image with the digitised image stored in their ePassport. SmartGate will also undertake immigration and customs checks. If there is a successful match, the traveller will be cleared through the Customs control point. If there is not a successful match, they will be referred to a clearance officer.

According to a report on the Seven Network, "The system compares your passport photo with digital images taken by three cameras, noting such things as your bone structure, length of your nose, and the distance between your eyes."[3]

Trials of the SmartGate system in conjunction with the biometric passport technology were expanded in late 2004 from use with Qantas air-crew (which began in 2002), to include over 1,000 Qantas platinum frequent flyers. Passengers are to be photographed and their details added to the SmartGate database within 24 hours, according to an e-mail sent to prospective users.

Critics, however, are claiming that the facial-recognition technology is not accurate enough for the use of national security tasks. According to an article by ZDNet Australia, "Problems in introducing biometric identifiers to Australian passports means Australian citizens visiting the United States will be fingerprinted and photographed under that country's anti-terrorism measures."[4]

Brisbane was the first Australian international airport to deploy Customs Smartgate system on an operational basis in September 2007. It is now available at other international airports nationally.

On 10 April 2013, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that, starting from 2015, holders of Chinese, Hong Kong and Macao e-passports would be able to use SmartGates in Australia on a trial basis.[5][6] Holders of these three passports are included in the permanent list on June 20, 2016, along with a handful of other countries.[7]

New Zealand[edit]

In New Zealand, SmartGates are available at Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington international airports for both eligible arriving and departing passengers.[8]

On 20 August 2009, announcements were made to expand the SmartGate system to New Zealand. This announcement, made by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key on an official visit to Australia, was part of an agreement struck between himself and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in an effort to allow Trans-Tasman travellers to "transit through the entire [customs] process within eight minutes"[9] to further free up the already liberal travel arrangements between the two nations.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Arrivals SmartGate". Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Retrieved September 23, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c "Who can use SmartGate?". New Zealand Customs Service. Retrieved September 23, 2015. 
  3. ^ West, Caroline. "Smartgate". Beyond Tomorrow. Archived from the original on 2007-04-07. Retrieved 2007-04-28. 
  4. ^ Pearce, James (2004-04-05). "Biometric doubts see travelers photographed, fingerprinted". ZDNet Australia. Retrieved 2007-04-28. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ It is likely that the extension of the availability of SmartGates in Australia to Chinese e-passport holders will include those holding Hong Kong SAR and Macao SAR passports, since all these passports have the same country code (CHN) on the biodata page.
  7. ^ 港人持電子特區護照 可過澳洲版e道
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ "Eight minutes to clear customs". One News. 20 August 2009. Retrieved 12 November 2011. 

External links[edit]