Culture

Aussie Passports May Be Phased Out As Soon As 2020

Say goodbye to your perfectly curated stamp portfolio.

There’s a lot to be said about the future of travel, where it will lead us, and how it will look in 20 years’ time with the addition of virtual reality, high class aircrafts and robots. But one thing’s for sure: the days of physical passports are numbered. And wouldn’t you know it – Australia’s leading the charge.

We’ve spoken before about the possibility of cloud passports, but now there’s news that Australia is planning to eliminate physical passports in favour of biometric scans.

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Passports and immigration desks might soon be replaced by a new contactless passenger identification system that would verify travellers using biometrics that recognise faces, fingerprints and irises. According to the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection, this would eliminate the need for passport scanners, paper customs forms and manned immigration desks.

While it’s still a little unclear exactly how the new contactless system will work, it’s said to go far beyond the technology of the current SmartGate electronic border processing system currently in place at Aussie airports.

Dr John Coyne, head of border security at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, spoke to Fairfax stating the new system would be a “world first” and “streamline” the arrivals process so international passengers could “literally just walk out like at a domestic terminal.” Dr Coyne also noted the technologies would filter incoming passengers through a corridor, rather than individual gates, where their biometrics can be captured and checked without passengers having to stop. Ambitious!

The government will be trialling a version of this new system in July at Canberra Airport, and in Sydney and Melbourne airports in November. If all goes to plan, the new system will be rolled out by 2020.

(Lead image: Michael Verhoef/Flickr)