Regular visitors to Singapore will be pleased to learn that from 1 October, Australians will be eligible to use the “enhanced-Immigration Automated Clearance System”, or eIACS usually available only to local residents passing through Singapore’s Changi Airport.
Unfortunately, travellers will need to register first before they can use these “smart gates” and there are a few conditions. Australians will need to have visited Singapore at least three times in the past 12 months. A recent passport-size photograph is also required. To register, you’ll need to visit an eIACS office in Changi Airport Terminal 3 Departures, Woodlands or downtown during business hours. The process is said to take around 20 minutes, and once approved you’ll be able to use the smart gates for two years.
For very frequent travellers, the potential time savings could make registration for the program worthwhile. But for everyone else, the application process could take up more time and effort than it is worth. Many members have experienced generally short queues at inbound and outbound immigration in Singapore anyway.
Good news but a shame it requires registration rather than just accepting biometric passports as the inbound ones in Oz do.
Hong Kong currently has a similar system. Fortunately, registration is a somewhat simpler process. Registration can be completed at Hong Kong Airport, as well as numerous downtown locations, and takes just five minutes. Like Singapore, travellers need to have visited Hong Kong at least three times in the past year. However, there are exceptions. Those holding elite status with certain airlines, such as Gold or Platinum Qantas status are automatically eligible, regardless of the number of previous visits to Hong Kong. In the case of Hong Kong, it would seem that registration is more than worthwhile.
I had to wait at Singapore last year for 30+ minutes to get through immigration – but that was a once off. Normally it’s pretty quick. Hong Kong on the other hand regularly has queues of that length.
I guess if you regularly travel to Singapore it might be worthwhile. Hong Kong on the other hand is a definite ‘must have’.
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