04 December 2009

New Zealand immigration goes digital with SmartGate

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In a new effort to fast-track New Zealand immigration and border procedures, the SmartGate system has been introduced at Auckland Airport.

The SmartGate system now provides a digital gateway for Auckland Airport arrivals passing through New Zealand immigration.

Prime Minister John Key became the first person to sign in with the new technology yesterday, with the SmartGate being hailed as the single biggest development in border processing in 20 years by Customs New Zealand deputy controller John Secker.

 The system works by eligible passport holders answering a few questions using touch screen technology, where they are issued with a ticket.

Once they reach the gate, biometric facial recognition technology scans the passenger's face, and provided it matches the image stored in the passport, the gate opens.

The new system is intend to make passing through Auckland Airport a more pleasant and rapid experience for travellers, as well as improve security.

At the moment, the system is restricted to holders of Australian or New Zealand electronic passports, but Mr Key said the system would eventually be available for all all passengers and New Zealand visa arrivals, with plans to introduce the technology to other airports.

Speaking on the development, Mr Key commented "In my view, tourism is going to be the largest export earner New Zealand has. In the years ahead we are going to see more people travelling to New Zealand.

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