3 Dec 2009

DIY passport control now an airport option

6:30 pm on 3 December 2009

A new system that allows airline passengers to put themselves through passport control has been unveiled at Auckland International Airport.

Smartgate, which can only be used by New Zealanders and Australians arriving in this country, was launched on Thursday morning by Prime Minister John Key. It's already operating in Australia.

Manufactured by a French company, its facial recognition technology allows passengers to do the job usually done by a Customs officer - though the latter option still remains.

The deputy chief executive of the Customs Service, John Secker, says the whole process takes about 15 seconds and won't compromise security. There are plans to use it for departing passengers too.

Four kiosks are open at Auckland, and more will be installed at Wellington and Christchurch airports by the middle of next year. Total cost: $38 million.