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SmartGate is an automated border processing system being introduced by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and New Zealand Customs Service. It is a secure and simple system that performs the customs and immigration checks normally made by a Customs Officer when a traveller arrives in either Australia or New Zealand.

SmartGate Eligibility[edit]

The following travellers are eligible to use SmartGate when going through passport control in Australia and New Zealand:[1][2][3]

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

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


Smart gate is currently available for use at the following airport when arriving on an international flight

  • Adelaide
  • Brisbane
  • Cairns
  • Darwin
  • Gold Coast
  • Melbourne
  • Perth
  • Sydney
  • Auckland
  • Wellington
  • Christchurch

Smart gate is currently available for use at the following airport when departing on an international flight

  • 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.[4]

SmartGate takes a live image of a travellers 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 Customs 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."[5]

There are plans to expand the scheme in the future to holders of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) compliant ePassports from countries other than Australia and New Zealand.

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."[6]

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 e-passports would be able to use SmartGates in Australia on a trial basis.[7][8]

New Zealand[edit]

In New Zealand, SmartGates are available at Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington international airports for both eligible arriving and departing passengers.[9]

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"[10] to further free up the already liberal travel arrangements between the two nations.


  1. ^ "SmartGate - Frequently asked questions". Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "SmartGate - locations". Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  5. ^ West, Caroline. "Smartgate". Beyond Tomorrow. Archived from the original on 2007-04-07. Retrieved 2007-04-28. 
  6. ^ Pearce, James (2004-04-05). "Biometric doubts see travelers photographed, fingerprinted". ZDNet Australia. Retrieved 2007-04-28. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ "Eight minutes to clear customs". One News. 20 August 2009. Retrieved 12 November 2011. 

External links[edit]