Wellington Airport gets SmartGate

02:33, Jun 15 2010
SmartGate
EASY AS: SmartGate uses face recognition technology and the information stored in a microchip inside electronic passports to do the identity checks usually carried out by Customs officers.

Wellington International Airport today became the country's second airport to launch the SmartGate automatic processing facility.

SmartGate uses face recognition technology and the information stored in a microchip inside electronic passports to do the identity checks usually carried out by Customs officers.

The system, for trans-Tasman travel, was first used last December in Auckland and Customs Minister Maurice Williamson, who was today the first person to use the Wellington system, said it had been successful.

"The system has proved incredibly popular at Auckland Airport with around 50 percent of eligible New Zealand passport holders now using the system each week, and more than 190,000 people have been processed through it since it was launched."

Mr Williamson said SmartGate was a central platform to improving the way New Zealand facilitated trans-Tasman trade, travel, and tourism.

It was expected to begin operating in Christchurch for arrivals this year.

He said Customs would be able to focus resources on higher-risk passengers and operate more efficiently as SmartGate was progressively introduced.

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NZPA