Singapore e-passport holders can now use self-service counters at Australian airports

Singaporeans holding electronic passports can now enter Australia faster, by going through self-service counters at the country's eight international airports that use facial recognition technology.

This technology, termed SmartGate, allows travellers to self-process through passport control, instead of having to queue at counters manned by customs officers. The process is similar to Singapore's biometric system, except that instead of thumb prints, travellers are recognised by their facial features. This is expected to cut waiting times by 15 to 20 minutes.

Australia's Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb and Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Michaelia Cash announced on Wednesday a trial that extends the use of SmartGate to all eligible Singapore nationals - those aged above 16 who holds e-passports. This makes Singapore the first country in Asia to use this option in Australia.

In 2013, more people from Singapore visited Australia that any other country in Southeast Asia. There were 385,300 visitors from Singapore, an increase of 12.1 per cent compared to 2012.

SmartGate is currently available to Australian, New Zealand and United Kingdom citizens on a permanent basis, and to United States and Swiss e-passport holders under trial arrangements. The eight airports that uses this technology are located in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Gold Coast, Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns and Darwin.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.