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Auckland airport installs more biometric gates, US CBP expands SmartGate in Australia


New Zealand customs agency rolled out the first nine new SmartGates installed at Auckland International Airport for departing passengers in time for the busy Christmas season.

The nine new eGates, which use facial recognition technology and information in electronic passports, add to the four previous eGates already in operation at the airport, which have since been relocated to the arrival gates.

As part of its budget for 2015, New Zealand’s government is investing $6.6 million to install 29 new gates — which is more than double the current number of eGates — over the next 12-18 months, said Customs Minister Nicky Wagner.

The next generation technology performs passport and emigration checks at the international gates to more quickly and easily process passengers. The technology is the first of its kind in New Zealand.

“The new technology incorporates the passport scanner into the gate, eliminating the need for the kiosk and ticket,” said Wagner. “Departing passengers scan their passport and step up to the biometric scanner, which is faster and more efficient than the current two-step process.

“The expansion and modernization of SmartGate will help manage the increasing numbers of travelers, which is expected to grow by 2.3 million to about 13.3 million by 2019. The new gates ensure legitimate travelers can enjoy faster border processing and officers can focus more on the high-risk travelers.”

The customs agency is also planning expansions for Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown airports over the next 12-18 months.

Meanwhile, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that Australia has expanded its use of SmartGates to U.S. Citizens with ePassports.

Previously, the country only allowed Global Entry card holders to access the SmartGates. Similar to the Global Entry program, SmartGate allows eligible travelers to Australia to self-process at passport control when arriving to the country from another country.

With this expansion, the Global Entry registration is no longer required and no additional registration with the Australian government is needed.

The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection said the move “may” be a faster method of clearing border control for eligible individuals.

In order to be eligible for the program, passenger be at least 16 years of age and have an ePassport. Those children ages 10-15 may also be eligible if they are traveling with at least two adults.

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