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New Biometric Australian Passports

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danielh

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Hi all,

A few weeks ago I read an article on how Australia is going to trial a new type of passport that involves biometrics to uniquely identify the individual and prevent fraud.

Since my passport ran out on June 14th 2005, I decided to not renew it as the article mentioned that it _might_ be available as an option to the public by November 2005 at a nominal increase of $19.

I think they are sorting out some issues regarding verification of the individuals photo but I hope they sort it all out soon.

Since I need to get a passport ready for travel to the United States on Dec 15th I'm probably pushing it a bit but does anyone else know about these new passports and how to apply early?

I do not want to get a standard 5 year passport if I can help it.

Regards
Daniel

[EDIT] I should mention that the Smartgate trials are part of the new passport system and so if anyone was part of the trial, I'd like to know what sort of passport you were given. The new Passports are supposed to have both biometric data and RFID.
 

Mal

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No idea on when the new style of passport is set to be introduced. Oct 26 was supposed to be the deadline given by the U.S for when the passports must be introduced, but I'm sure it will slip again.

However, you are slightly incorrect as to the SmartGate trial. The trial used your normal passport. No new passport was issued.

There was a seperate trial (early/mid this year) for Qantas staff (yet again!) and some other people which involved the new passports. These had chips inside.

I would be more than happy if Customs/DFAT contacted me and offered to replace my SmartGate access with a biometric passport so that I could help trial the system further... Actually if they wanted to offer me a diplomatic passport with biometrics I would be even more happier ;-)

Some references:

http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/display?content=4542 (Latest news on the timelines and how they have slipped)
http://usinfo.state.gov/usinfo/Archive/2005/Jun/21-47467.html
(Good reading on the timelines that were in place)
http://www.foreignminister.gov.au/releases/2005/joint_ellison_vanstone_biometrics_100505.html
(Press release on the new Passports)

[BTW edited this after posting to add in more information]
 

danielh

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yeah, you are right. I also did bit of research after that post. I think you only need a machine readable passport. Once you get your face scanned it is pretty much associated with your passport and the Biometric software takes over from there and matches the passport number with the photo on file.

What I was hoping for was the next stage of the passport evolution which is the one with RFID.

I actually called up the Passport people today and the lady really didn't know what I was talking about and ended up saying that the department did not have an estimated time for this to come out. I suspect this was just some throw away statement on her behalf.

I might just have to get my passport renewed, pop into the customs office in Sydney or Melbourne and ask to be set up for Smartgate. I'll then somehow figure out how to do my wifes one before we go to LA in December. It would defeat the purpose of getting only myself smartgated up when I still have to wait for her to go through custome. :)

Oh well.

Regards
Daniel
 

Mal

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As far as I know, Smartgate in it's current form is closed for new enrollments... Won't be opened up again until Biometric passports are issued.

Check with Customs of course. They might let you join, but i think it would be hard to get them to sign you up.

Maybe customs could also be a point where you can ask "I've heard about microchipped passports that Customs are trialling. How do I sign up to trial it? "
 

QF WP

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The SmartGate trial has finished as I believe funding for the "project" finished. Therefore, no new people can get SartGate access, only those who signed up during the trial period. Would love to see it come in though...

(sorry, correcting my poor spelling)
 

danielh

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I hope it is not.

On the Qantas site

http://www.qantas.com.au/fflyer/dyn/newsOffers/other/2004/oct/smartGate

It states...

Q: Can I continue to use SmartGate once the eight week trial is completed?

A: Yes. Once you have enrolled in the SmartGate trial, you can continue to use the SmartGate kiosk when you arrive in Australia, at Sydney and Melbourne international airports, on an ongoing basis.

Q: Can I still enrol to use SmartGate after the eight week trial has concluded?

A: Yes. Once the trial has concluded you will still be able to enrol at the existing Customs enrolment offices. The enrolment offices are located at the Customs client services offices at Sydney and Melbourne international airports (office hours are: Sydney 6am - 10pm, Melbourne 6am - 6pm).

Its the last one I'm hoping to see true.

Regards
Daniel
 
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Smart Gate

I could be wrong, but I think that Lindsay is correct in relation to enrolments for Smart Gate closing. The trial was originally used by overseas Qantas trolley dolleys that were Australian Citizens & then extended to 'invited' QF Platinum Frequent Flyers that hold Aussie passports.

Registrations for the frequent flyers were being done by Customs and QF in the QF lounges.

It apparently works on iris recognition. The person looks into an unmanned machine containing a camera & at the same time places their passport on a ledge. The system simultaneously scans their machine readable passport. If the system likes what it sees & they match the gates (a bit like ticket barrier gates at a train station) open. Quite clever really.

No intrusive questions about how much duty free or where have you been. You are straight past the often long passport control queues.

Not sure how secure the system is. Seems a bit high risk to me & very discriminating against the poor sods that aren't enrolled. Must be popular though as it is fast & you would miss all the hoi polloi having to wait.
 

serfty

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Re: Smart Gate

frequent passport user said:
I could be wrong, but I think that Lindsay is correct in relation to enrolments for Smart Gate closing. The trial was originally used by overseas Qantas trolley dolleys that were Australian Citizens & then extended to 'invited' QF Platinum Frequent Flyers that hold Aussie passports.

Registrations for the frequent flyers were being done by Customs and QF in the QF lounges.

It apparently works on iris recognition. The person looks into an unmanned machine containing a camera & at the same time places their passport on a ledge. The system simultaneously scans their machine readable passport. If the system likes what it sees & they match the gates (a bit like ticket barrier gates at a train station) open. Quite clever really.

No intrusive questions about how much duty free or where have you been. You are straight past the often long passport control queues.

Not sure how secure the system is. Seems a bit high risk to me & very discriminating against the poor sods that aren't enrolled. Must be popular though as it is fast & you would miss all the hoi polloi having to wait.
Linday is correct; he gave people on this Board a heads up last year and many have enrolled including this lowly SG.

I have used it five times and it has worked well; saving me many minutes.

This is a specific thread here on Smartgate, started by Lindsay, entitled SmartGate...a faster way to clear Customs (on trial)
 

pomjim

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Speaking at a smartcard conference in Sydney, DFAT's head of passports, Bob Nash, rejected criticism the new passport would not be a durable, long-term solution.

"Lots of people in the US and others tell me this [system] won't last for more than five years," Nash said.

"Then why would the manufacturer guarantee it for 12 years?" he asked.

The facial recognition system includes 16 page passport booklets containing microchips produced by Sharp Corporation.

"We've hit them with hammers, we've broken them...we've poured beer on them!," he said, referring to testing.

DFAT had also conducted tests in Japan of the passports under 16 different electronic scanning devices. Only one machine failed to read the passport due to its own configuration issues, he said.

DFAT currently pilots the e-passport using its 'Smartgate 2' biometric devices in Sydney and Melbourne airports. Since December, a group of 2500 Qantas staff have tested the system on their re-entry to Australia.

"We've had no failures in the 2,000 [passports] currently being tested by Qantas staff," Nash said.

The results meant the system was "98 percent accurate" at the moment, he said.

About 10 000 e-passports have already been mass-produced, according to Nash.

The main challenge of the project then would be comparing e-passport applicants' identities with the "several million images" on DFAT databses, he said.

E-passports will only be issued to individuals needing replacements, rather than DFAT recalling every passport in Australia.

Still, the matching of prospective e-passport holders to the database was not an easy task, according to Nash.

Some cases of multiple matches with the database had occurred, he said.

"We had one bloke who has six [matches on the system]!"

Nevertheless, the October launch date would be achieved, Nash said.

"We've been working on this for five years.

"And we will be one of the first countries to introduce an e-passport."
 

danielh

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Mal

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danielh said:
<snip>
I have still got my customised Passport renewal form with me so I can still apply through that (without having to jump through a few new hoops from 1st July 2005).

Regards
Daniel
I assume you've read this?
http://www.dfat.gov.au/dept/passports/passports_bkg.html
"In most cases, old forms cannot be used after 31 July 2005. The exception is passport renewal forms already mailed out bearing a use-by date later than 31 July 2005, but even these cannot be used beyond 30 June 2006"

Might cause some issues if the form is a little old...
 

danielh

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Yep, I got my form about 3 months ago. Don't have it with me in the hotel but its the 'good' form. :)

Regards
Daniel
 

NM

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Having added another 17 stamps to my passport in the last month, I am fast running out of space. Currently only have one blank page and only a few others with any spare space for stamps. Now I have to decide if I request a new one before the October deadline set by the USA for new passport requirements, or wait until after that date and possibly have to wait until the end of the year for a new one.
 

Kiwi Flyer

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I'd go before. Not only are you risking running into problems if do run out of space (eg need to visit places with full page visas), but it also ensures you wont have first generation of the biometric passports (or the scanners at international airports). Hopefully any bugs or security issues are ironed out by the time actually need to get biometric passport.

For me the decision isnt as easy. NZ bringing out biometric passports later this year. My less than 2 years old passport is about 2/3 full so if I get a new one before the changeover will waste a lot of the valid time and some of the space. OTOH may need a new one next year anyway.
 

danielh

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NM said:
Having added another 17 stamps to my passport in the last month, I am fast running out of space. Currently only have one blank page and only a few others with any spare space for stamps. Now I have to decide if I request a new one before the October deadline set by the USA for new passport requirements, or wait until after that date and possibly have to wait until the end of the year for a new one.
Sorry but are you saying that if we request a passport after October this year that we might not get it within the standard 10 days? I've got a mid Dec flight to the US so I don't want to stuff myself around.

Also, got back home this weekend and my personalised pasport application says valid until 30 June 2006. :)

Regards
Daniel
 

Kiwi Flyer

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NM said:
October deadline set by the USA for new passport requirements
I think I've seen that there's yet another deferral of the date - to October 2006. Will find the links and post.
 

Mal

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Deferral of the date information:

http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/display?content=4542

"After extensive consultation with Congress and the Department of State, DHS is requiring by October 26, 2005, a digital photograph of the passport holder’s face printed on the data page of the passport. DHS will impose an October 26, 2006 deadline for the integrated circuit chip, or e-passport, capable of storing the biographic information from the data page, a digitized photograph, and other biometric information in travel documents. Valid passports issued before October 26, 2005, will still be accepted for travel under the auspices of the VWP, provided that the passports are machine-readable."
 

danielh

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Mal said:
Deferral of the date information:

http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/display?content=4542

"After extensive consultation with Congress and the Department of State, DHS is requiring by October 26, 2005, a digital photograph of the passport holder’s face printed on the data page of the passport. DHS will impose an October 26, 2006 deadline for the integrated circuit chip, or e-passport, capable of storing the biographic information from the data page, a digitized photograph, and other biometric information in travel documents. Valid passports issued before October 26, 2005, will still be accepted for travel under the auspices of the VWP, provided that the passports are machine-readable."
My only question is what is with the 1 year difference. I think they may have made a typo somewhere as wouldn't this mean that any Australian passport issued between 26 October 2005 and 25 October 2006 be not accepted by US immigration even if it is machine readable?

Regards
Daniel
 

Mal

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danielh said:
My only question is what is with the 1 year difference. I think they may have made a typo somewhere as wouldn't this mean that any Australian passport issued between 26 October 2005 and 25 October 2006 be not accepted by US immigration even if it is machine readable?

Regards
Daniel
I read it as follows to keep being able to get the visa waiver:

June 05. You need to have a machine readable passport
26 Oct 05. You need to have a digital photo on any new passport created after this date(I'm sure Australia already does this except for maybe some emergency issues)
25 Oct 06. Your country must start issuing biometric passports (You don't need one at this stage as long as your passport is issued before that date)

If you present a passport that was manufactured before Oct 05, you can have a physical or digital photo. You need the machine readable passport though.

There'll probably be another date where you require a biometric passport, but that won't be for a few years I think...
 

danielh

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Well it's getting closer to my Dec 15th 2005 holiday and I still have not applied for my new passport. With all these October 26th 2005 deadlines for this and that I'm trying to figure out if it is better for me to apply pre or post that date.

Any ideas or new pieces of information to make this decision easier?

Regards
Daniel
 
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