The Australia DPD App Doesn’t Work Properly

The Australia DPD App doesn't work properly
The Australia DPD app is littered with bugs. Photo: Alex Green on Pexels.

Since February 2022, the Australian government requires all passengers arriving in Australia on an international flight to complete a Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD) within 7 days before departure. This can be done online or on the “Australia DPD” smartphone app.

In theory, this system is supposed to save travellers time by allowing them to submit the required travel, health and quarantine information before arriving at the airport. The alternative would be that passengers would need to have documents such as their vaccination certificates manually checked on arrival into Australia, resulting in significant congestion and wait times at the border. The Digital Passenger Declaration is also designed to eventually replace the Incoming Passenger Card.

Unfortunately, the implementation of the DPD by the Australian government has been woeful. The “Australia DPD” smartphone app, in particular, is difficult to use and often doesn’t work properly. Many Australians have also complained that the DPD is a waste of their time as it repeatedly asks for information they have already provided.

Many Australian Frequent Flyer members have shared their frustration on our forum after encountering bugs or struggling to complete the DPD because the technology didn’t work properly. This is particularly problematic because it’s a mandatory requirement for anyone travelling to Australia. Failing to complete this clunky form could result in being denied boarding or even a $6,600 fine.

It’s not just AFF members who’ve had problems. A quick look at the app’s reviews on the Apple App Store reveals that most users have found the Australia DPD app to be barely functional.

Recent Australia DPD App Store reviews
Recent Australia DPD App Store reviews.

The Google Play Store reviews are no better, with none of the 637 reviews giving more than 3 stars and most giving one star…

Google Play Store reviews for the Australia DPD app
Recent Google Play Store reviews of the Australia DPD App.

These issues are even more frustrating as most Australians would be travelling in the week before returning from overseas. They may not have lots of spare time available, nor access to a computer or a solid internet connection while trying to complete the DPD from overseas.

Common bugs with the Australia DPD App

There is a long list of problems with the Australia DPD app, from poor user-interface to things that simply don’t work. Here are some of the most common complaints:

  • The app regularly freezes or crashes
  • The user interface is poor, with elderly people in particularly struggling to use it
  • The app doesn’t save your password and regularly asks users to reset their password when logging in, even if they just did so
  • Many people have been getting emails saying their DPD was incomplete, even when this was not the case
  • The app doesn’t save your information, meaning you need to re-enter all of your details each time you submit a new DPD, or enter the details of a subsequent flight on the same trip
  • You have to enter an address in Australia, even if you’re just transiting to another international flight (in this instance, you should enter the name of the airport you’re transiting through as your intended address)
  • Some people have had trouble taking a selfie (required by the app to verify your identity), with the App not accepting the photo/s submitted

After completing the DPD, the app also doesn’t easily let you save the confirmation page or send an email confirmation that you can show at the airport when checking in for your flight to Australia. This is rather annoying, as the airport check-in staff need to verify that you’ve completed the DPD before allowing you to check in!

The workaround some people have been using is to take a screenshot of the final screen and show the screenshot to airport staff.

A waste of time for travellers

With so many problems with the app, some international travellers are wasting hours just trying to enter their information while also trying to troubleshoot a smartphone app that never should have made it out of beta testing.

Some have also complained that the Australia DPD app requires them to enter the same information multiple times, as well as asking for information that the Australian government would already have.

For example, you need to enter your passport details when setting up an account. But you then need to enter the same passport information again every time you submit a new DPD.

Some Australians have also questioned why they need to enter their vaccination details again on the DPD, even after scanning their passport and proving their identity with a selfie, when they have an International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate issued by the Australian government that’s already linked to their passport.

Australia COVID-19 vaccination certificate
Your International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate is linked to your passport, but you’ll still need to enter all your vaccination details again when filling out a DPD. Image: Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade.

It’s not really clear why it’s even still necessary to provide your vaccination details on the DPD at all, since no Australian states or territories require unvaccinated international arrivals to quarantine (or do anything else that vaccinated arrivals don’t have to) any more.

If anything, the current DPD process is an excellent case study in inefficient government bureaucracy.

Does the government plan to fix the Australia DPD App?

There’s still a long way to go, but some recent updates to the Australia DPD app have made things a little better for users. An Australian Border Force (ABF) spokesperson told Australian Frequent Flyer that they will continue to make improvements over time.

“We are committed to enhancing the DPD, and user feedback is actively monitored and considered. Improvements have, and will continue to be made to the DPD mobile apps and online form,” the ABF spokesperson said.

“More than 1.7 million passengers have successfully submitted a Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD) since it was launched on 15 February 2022. About 700,000 have done so via the mobile apps and another one million through the online form.

“Data collected through the DPD has helped us manage the significant risk posed by COVID-19 at the Australian border to keep travellers and the community safe.

“The Department of Home Affairs website has detailed guidance to assist travellers in completing their DPD.”

There’s not hotline you can call but if you’re having trouble completing your DPD, the Department of Home Affairs has an FAQs page on its website.

In addition to the DPD, passengers arriving in Australia still currently need to complete an Incoming Passenger Card. The government plans to phase these cards out in mid-2022, eventually replacing them with a longer Digital Passenger Declaration. Let’s hope these issues are ironed out first!

Australia incoming passenger card
The incoming passenger card will be phased out later this year.

Use the desktop form for a better experience

In the meantime, there seems to be fewer issues when completing a Digital Passenger Declaration using the DPD online form on the Department of Home Affairs website, rather than with the app. For a better experience, use a desktop computer rather than a mobile device.

 

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Digital Passenger Declaration Replaces Australia Travel Declaration

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]

Community Comments

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I suppose we’ll have to see the details… but how do you declare the apple you brought from the plane if you’ve completed your declaration days in advance? What about extra duty free? Or do we just tick ‘yes’ to every question??

Reply 2 Likes

Am i the only one who thinks it strange that you have to submit "between 7 days and 72 hours before departure"?

Surely would make more sense to only submit on the day of travel, 72 hours out you wont have you covid results so wont know if you can actually fly. If only a 3 or less day trip (quite common for a business trip across to NZ) you would be submitting your return declaraion before you have departed Australia on the outward leg.

Plus if need to do a last minute business or emmergency trips (say if a loved one gets ill), you wont be able to complete that far out either.

Also if you end up doing any shopping on the last few days of your trip or win big at a casino how do you edit your customs decalrations?

Im all for digital, just think the declaration should be done as part of flight check in online on the day of travel.

Reply 1 Like

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They've only been talking about doing this for 3 years......

Reply 2 Likes

They've only been talking about doing this for 3 years......

October 2020?

Reply Like

click to expand...

Am i the only one who thinks it strange that you have to submit "between 7 days and 72 hours before departure"?

Surely would make more sense to only submit on the day of travel, 72 hours out you wont have you covid results so wont know if you can actually fly. If only a 3 or eless day trip (quite common for a business trip across to NZ) you would be submitting your return declaraion before you have departed Australia on the outward leg.

Plus if need to do a last minute business or emmergency trips (say if a loved one gets ill), you wont be able to complete that far out either.

Also if you end up doing any shopping on the last few days of your trip or win big at a casino how do you edit your customs decalrations?

Im all for digital, just think the declaration should be done as part of flight check in online on the day of travel.

I am an Italian citizen, I come to visit a mother who has terminal cancer, I received a travel exemption, a visa and I was vaccinated three times. Unfortunately I did not notice that my plane landed 18.2 in the morning. So I can't fill out the travel declaration (it doesn't apply to me anymore) and nothing will be published about the Digital Passenger Declaration until February 15, when I don't have time to fill it in 72 hours in advance. Do any of you perhaps know anything about what dpd will look like at all?

Reply Like

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Im all for digital, just think the declaration should be done as part of flight check in online on the day of travel.

I've had several trips back to Australia where I've booked flights at short notice (one only 5 hrs, when I learnt my father was being hospitalised with a serious illness). Then there are those on business trips whose plans can and do change.

It will be interesting what the wording ends up being regarding timing. If it is 72 hrs, the idiots in charge have NFI. If the digital systems can't cope with declarations up to the time of departure of the flight which is - at worst case still at least 1.5 hrs in advance of arrival (DIL-DRW/POM-CNS) then what hope is there.

Reply 1 Like

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I've had a survey and also been part of a focus group for this. Will be interesting to see if it's smooth sailing when it rolls out.

Reply 2 Likes

Am i the only one who thinks it strange that you have to submit "between 7 days and 72 hours before departure"?

Surely would make more sense to only submit on the day of travel, 72 hours out you wont have you covid results so wont know if you can actually fly. If only a 3 or less day trip (quite common for a business trip across to NZ) you would be submitting your return declaraion before you have departed Australia on the outward leg.

Plus if need to do a last minute business or emmergency trips (say if a loved one gets ill), you wont be able to complete that far out either.

Also if you end up doing any shopping on the last few days of your trip or win big at a casino how do you edit your customs decalrations?

Im all for digital, just think the declaration should be done as part of flight check in online on the day of travel.

The ATD just makes you certify that you agree to get a test and bring documents prior to travel. It doesn't ask for it to be uploaded. They want it 72 hours prior to travel but I've had friends complete it hours before departure. I guess if you're not an Australian citizen and you're unvaccinated or something like that, then you might need the lead time for it to be approved - but for most it's relatively instant (similar to the US ESTA).

I imagine you will be able to add/edit it once you lodge it for the reasons you mentioned above. The whole point is to give ABF (and other agencies) an early heads up.

I actually found the ATD a pretty good system so I've got no problem with this move.

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I am an Italian citizen, I come to visit a mother who has terminal cancer, I received a travel exemption, a visa and I was vaccinated three times. Unfortunately I did not notice that my plane landed 18.2 in the morning. So I can't fill out the travel declaration (it doesn't apply to me anymore) and nothing will be published about the Digital Passenger Declaration until February 15, when I don't have time to fill it in 72 hours in advance. Do any of you perhaps know anything about what dpd will look like at all?

We'll learn more on Tuesday, but I can only assume you will be allowed to submit it on/after 15 February.

I hope you have a safe trip.

Reply 1 Like

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I had no problem submitting after check-in in December (though mrsandye did move me away from somebody who sat next to me and started coughing). You did need to have access to email for verification process

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