Australia immigration - offshore passenger screening expanded

24 January 2005

Passengers and crew on all airlines that regularly fly to Australia are now being screened overseas prior to boarding, Australia's Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) reported on January 24.

This represents an extension of the Advance Passenger Processing system, a technology that enables DIMIA to verify travelers' authorizations to enter Australia. It also allows for cross checking against other systems such as the Movement Alert List, a database of people and their travel documents that are of concern to the Australian immigration authorities.

The system was first trialed on Australia's national airline Qantas in 1995 then extended to eight other airlines. Coverage of all 46 airlines with regular routes to Australia was completed in the last few weeks. Since January 2004 the system has been applied to cruise ship passengers, and DIMIA is now trialing the system on some cargo vessels.

DIMIA says the system helps passengers by making processing in Australia more efficient, with many minor travel document issues settled before arrival, and reduces the risks for airlines of having to return unauthorized passengers.