For almost as long as commercial air travel has been in existence, passengers have been plagued by a little green card that sends them scrambling for pens and passports at the international departure gates. It seems regardless of how well-travelled passengers may be, it’s always that one thing that slips their mind until it comes time to pass through security.
Since 1948* when the Outgoing Passenger Card was introduced in Australia, passengers have been forced to fill in the annoying green card that wants to know everything from your passport and flight numbers to your occupation and how loaded with cash you are. Confusion reigned as passengers with stopovers attempted to decipher the correct answer to questions such as ‘Country where you will get off this flight or ship’ (huh?)
Frustrated families have been forced to fill out a form for each member travelling and mums the nation over wondered if Crying Eating Pooping Machine would fit in the occupation box – it is a full time job after all. Previously the cards were collected my immigration officers, but more recently have been directed to place them into a clear plastic box, with little attention paid to whether they were indeed completed or submitted.
Many travellers have been left wondering what exactly happens to the forms and if they’re really necessary. Minister for immigration and border protection Peter Dutton has answered travellers prayers, announcing on Sunday that passengers departing Australia will no longer need to complete an outgoing passenger card from July 1 2017.
“The automated process will add to existing state-of-the art passenger processing technology at our border and will help reduce queuing times and get travellers to their destination more quickly,” said Dutton.
“Removal of the outgoing passenger card further supports the move towards a more seamless, secure and simplified border clearance process.”
It seems the government is now ready to get with the times and do what many passengers have been suggesting for years. Collect the information using data from your passport and previous travel. These details are stored by the government and will be accessed in place of having to complete the paper-based Outgoing Passenger Cards.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) said that it has worked closely with the Australian Bureau of Statistics to identify and successfully test alternate data sources instead of relying on manual collection by paper-based cards. The Government is focused on low contact automated border clearance processes and technologies to manage the 50 million travellers expected annually by 2020.
Unfortunately, upon returning to Australia passengers will still have to complete the orange Incoming Passenger Card however a revised version of the car will be used from July 1 2017 with a likely phase-out by 2018.
*Source: National Archives of Australia