Australian Government - Australian Customs and Border Protection Service

To protect Australia's borders and foster lawful trade and travel.

SmartGate - Frequently asked questions

General

What is SmartGate?

SmartGate gives eligible travellers the option to self-process through passport control. SmartGate uses the data in the ePassport and face recognition technology to perform the customs and immigration checks usually conducted by an Australian Customs and Border Protection Service officer.

Who can use SmartGate?

You are eligible to use SmartGate to self-process through Australia's passport control:

  • If you hold an Australian, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States of America or Singaporean ePassport and you are aged 16 years or over.

Under trial arrangement, you can also use SmartGate:

  • If you hold a Switzerland (Swiss) ePassport, are travelling into Sydney airport and are 16 years or over.
  • If you hold an Australian ePassport, are aged 10-15 years old and are 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.

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

If you fulfill these requirements then you are automatically eligible to use SmartGate

  • Note: please ensure that when you check in, the name printed on your Boarding Pass exactly matches your name printed on your ePassport.  This will ensure you can use SmartGate without a problem.

How does SmartGate work?

SmartGate is a simple, two-step process involving a kiosk and a gate. The kiosk checks if you are eligible to self-process and the gate performs the identity check and clearance.

Who can use SmartGate?

You are eligible to use SmartGate to self-process through Australia's passport control:

  • If you hold an Australian, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States of America or Singaporean ePassport and you are aged 16 years or over.
  • If you hold a Switzerland (Swiss) ePassport, are travelling into Sydney International Airport and are 16 years or over.

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

Currently, there are some ePassport holders who are not eligible to use SmartGate including:

  • Australian and New Zealand ePassport holders travelling on military orders.

What is an ePassport?

An ePassport has a microchip embedded in the centre pages and an international ePassport symbol on the front cover. The microchip contains the same personal information that is on the colour photo page of the ePassport, including a digitised photograph.

How do I get an ePassport?

If you are eligible to use SmartGate and you apply for a new passport or renew an expired passport will be issued with an ePassport. If you have an older passport, without the ePassport symbol on the cover, you will need to wait until your passport is due for renewal, or apply for a new passport before your existing one expires.

What if I hold dual or multiple passports?

To use SmartGate, you must use the same passport that you use at check-in overseas so that your details match. For Australian citizens, this means you must use your Australian passport, even if you use a foreign passport overseas.

Why does Australian Customs and Border Protection Service need SmartGate?

The number of people arriving and departing from Australia’s international airports is steadily increasing, with an average annual growth more than 5 percent expected. By 2020, Australian Customs and Border Protection Service expects to process about 22.9 million arriving travellers each year. SmartGate allows Australian Customs and Border Protection Service to streamline the passenger clearance process and securely process more travellers, while maintaining the existing standards of border protection.

What are the benefits for travellers?

SmartGate aims to make processing through passport control simpler and more convenient for eligible travellers with ePassports. SmartGate puts the traveller in charge of how they prefer to be processed by giving them the option to bypass the passport processing queues and self process using their ePassport.

What is face recognition technology?

Face recognition technology works by mapping the underlying bone structure of the face. For example, the distances between eyes, nose, mouth and ears. The measurements are then digitally coded to be used for comparison and verification purposes. With SmartGate, a mathematical formula is used to determine whether the photo of the traveller's face matches their ePassport photo.

Why is Australian Customs and Border Protection Service using face recognition technology?

Face recognition is considered the least intrusive biometric measure and has a high degree of accuracy when used for one-to-one matching. The ePassport photo provides a portable biometric identifier meaning the traveller does not have to enrol or register. An Australian Customs and Border Protection Service officer can also undertake manual backup without needing to be a fingerprint or iris recognition expert.

Will SmartGate be quicker to use?

It will depend on the number of travellers using SmartGate. SmartGate makes passport control a more efficient process in terms of processing the total number of travellers and should result in reduced queue times for many travellers.

Where can I use SmartGate?

SmartGate is available at all major Australian and New Zealand international airports. In Australia, SmartGate is available for arriving travellers in Darwin, Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Gold Coast international airports. In New Zealand, SmartGate is available for arriving and departing travellers in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington international airports.

Do I still need a visa?

Yes, you will still need a visa to travel to Australia. SmartGate does not change the visa requirements or the visa process for travel to Australia. For more information about obtaining a visa to enter Australia, visit the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection webpage: http://www.immi.gov.au/Pages/Welcome.aspx

Can I use SmartGate if I have a disability?

Yes. SmartGate is an option for some disabled travellers.  SmartGate is wheelchair accessible and passengers should have no problem navigating through the exit as it has been designed wide enough to cater for wheelchair passengers.

Can I wear glasses or hats?

Hats and sunglasses should always be removed.  Prescription glasses can be left on if you are wearing them in your passport photo and if the rims of your glasses are relatively thin.  SmartGate can have difficulties during face matching with thick rimmed glasses, so it is better to remove them, if possible.

What happens if I change my hairstyle or weight, will I have trouble using SmartGate next time?

No. SmartGate has been designed to allow for small changes in appearance.

What happens after I pass through SmartGate?

As a SmartGate user, you are still subject to all existing customs, immigration and quarantine requirements. You will need to present a completed Incoming Passenger Card and your SmartGate ticket to an Australian Customs and Border Protection Service officer in the arrivals hall once you have collected your luggage. You must continue to declare any goods subject to government prohibitions or restrictions.

SmartGate

Do I still need my Incoming Passenger Card?

Yes. You will need to hand your completed Incoming Passenger Card and SmartGate ticket to a Customs and Border Protection officer after you have collected your luggage.

What is the SmartGate ticket?

The SmartGate ticket is evidence that you have used SmartGate to cross the border. You will need to retain this ticket and present it with your completed Incoming Passenger Card to an Australian Customs and Border Protection Service officer after you have collected your luggage.

Will my passport be stamped?

No. Legislation has been changed so that you no longer need your passport to be stamped if you use SmartGate to cross the border. However, if you wish to obtain a stamp, you can do so by asking an Australian Customs and Border Protection Service officer.

If SmartGate doesn't work for me, will I have to join the back of the manual queue?

No. If you cannot complete the process at either the kiosk or the gate, you will be directed to a SmartGate assistance desk to be manually processed by an Australian Customs and Border Protection Service officer.

What if I have an ePassport and my friend has a normal passport, do we have to separate to clear passport control?

Your friend will not be able to use SmartGate. If you want to stay together, you will need to join the manual processing queue.

What if I'm travelling with Australian children who are under 16 years of age? Can I use SmartGate?

Yes.  On 13 November 2013 a trial commenced that allows Australian children between 10 and 15 to now use SmartGate.  The trial is limited to Australian children accompanied by a minimum of two adults in the group so as to allow for “first and last” process so children were not separated from adults through the process. 

The “first and last” process requires one parent to present and clear through SmartGate, followed by the 10+ old child and then the other adult.

If you are travelling with children under the age of 10 years, Australian Customs and Border Protection Service recommend that you stay together and are processed by one of our officers.

Does SmartGate record any data?  For example, does it record the fact that I have cleared Customs and Immigration today?

Yes. SmartGate records the same information that an Australian Customs and Border Protection Service officer records.

What about my privacy?

All personal information collected via SmartGate, (including the photograph), is treated in the same way as information collected manually. Australian Customs and Border Protection Service stores personal information to securely prevent unauthorised use and maintain its accuracy. Australian Customs and Border Protection Service will only use or disclose personal information for the purpose for which it was collected or as otherwise required or authorised by law, including where the information is required by other law enforcement or border control authorities.

Where can I obtain further information on SmartGate?

You can email information@customs.gov.au or ring the Customs Information and Support Centre on 1300 363 263.