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Fact sheet 71 - SmartGate automated border processing

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What is SmartGate?

SmartGate is an automated border processing system that enables eligible travellers arriving into Australia's international airports to self-process through passport control. It uses the data in ePassports and facial recognition technology to perform the customs and immigration checks that are usually conducted by an Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) officer.

SmartGate collects information electronically in relation to health and character, although a traveller must still complete the Incoming Passenger Card.

SmartGate electronically grants eligible New Zealand citizens a Special Category visa.

Do I have to apply or register to use SmartGate?

No. You simply need to hold an ePassport of an eligible nationality and be 16 years or over.

Who can use SmartGate?

To be eligible to use SmartGate you must be 16 years or older and hold a valid ePassport from one of the following countries:

  • Australia (this does not apply to Australian citizens travelling on military orders)
  • New Zealand (this does not apply to New Zealand citizens travelling on military orders)
  • United States of America
  • United Kingdom
  • Switzerland
  • Singapore.

What is an ePassport?

Australian passports issued after 24 October 2005 and New Zealand passports issued after November 2005 are called ePassports. An ePassport has a microchip embedded within the document and an international ePassport symbol on the front cover. The microchip contains the same personal information that is on the colour photo page of the ePassport, including a digitised photograph.

Further information on ePassports can be obtained from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.

I am eligible to use SmartGate, do I still need a visa to come to Australia?

Yes. Except for eligible New Zealand citizens, all foreign nationals must have a visa to travel to Australia.

Further assistance in finding a visa to travel to Australia is available.
See: Find a visa

Where can I use SmartGate?

SmartGate can be used by eligible travellers arriving at Australia's eight major international airports:

  • Adelaide
  • Brisbane
  • Cairns
  • Darwin
  • Gold Coast
  • Melbourne
  • Perth
  • Sydney.

How does SmartGate work?

SmartGate is a simple, two-step process involving a kiosk, which checks if a traveller is eligible to self-process, and a gate, which performs the identity check and clearance.

Step one

  • Look for the SmartGate kiosk, located in the concourses or at passport control.
  • Place your ePassport into the reader and answer standard declarations using the touch screen.
  • The kiosk will issue you a SmartGate ticket, which you will need for step two.

Step two

  • Insert your SmartGate ticket.
  • Look at the camera while your face is compared to your ePassport photo.
  • Retrieve your ticket and when the gates open.
  • Proceed to the baggage hall.
  • Collect your luggage and go to the Customs and Border Protection check-point.
  • Hand in your SmartGate ticket and Incoming Passenger Card.

Do I still need my Incoming Passenger Card?

Yes. You will need to hand your completed Incoming Passenger Card and SmartGate ticket to an Australian Customs and Border Protection Service officer after you have collected your luggage.


To enable the expansion of SmartGate to certain non-citizens, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection amended the Migration Act 1958 to provide a flexible legislative framework for the use of automated identification processing systems in immigration clearance. The Migration Legislation (Border Integrity) Amendment Act 2007 was passed on 29 April 2007.

The amendments enable travellers who hold the eligible ePassports to choose an automated process if they wish, rather than seeing a Customs and Border Protection officer for manual processing.

Further information

More detailed information on SmartGate can be obtained from the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service website.

All enquiries relating to SmartGate automated border processing system should be made to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service at the following email address:

All enquiries relating to immigration clearance or SmartGate legislation should be made to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Fact Sheet 71. Produced by the National Communications Branch, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Canberra.
Last reviewed Wednesday 30 April 2014.