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