Travel departure card to be phased out


travelsOVERSEAS travel’s most annoying feature is already obsolete and will soon be phased out altogether.

The green departure card, or Outgoing Passenger Card (OPC) is scheduled to disappear, followed by the removal of the orange Incoming Passenger Card (IPC).

But as international travellers departing Australia are already discovering it is no longer necessary to fill out or deposit the green paper OPCs.

Officers no longer collect the cards at some departure points.

No action is taken when a traveller using the automated outbound SmartGate passport reader then fails to place the card in the boxes provided at Sydney airport.

When news.com.au filled out the green card at Sydney Airport on May 17, but failed to notice the deposit box and returned on June 10 with the card intact, nothing happened.

The cards are a source of irritation for travellers who are forced to scramble for a pen, their passport and flight numbers as well as declaring their occupation.

Then there is the question of which country they will spend the most time in, and the most perplexing of all, “Country where you will get off this flight or ship”.

All this is expected to cease soon.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) told news.com.au that it would remove the cards, but did not name a date.

“Removing paper-based manual processes is integral to achieving a seamless and automated traveller experience,” the DIBP said in a statement to news.com.au on Tuesday.

“The DIBP has been reviewing the use of paper-based passenger cards.

“The Government is focused on low contact automated border clearance processes and technologies to manage the 50 million travellers expected annually by 2020.”

The outgoing passenger cards are expected to go first, followed by the incoming passenger cards which are still collected at the customs point at Australian international airports.

News.com.au asked how the Australian Government would receive declarations for prohibited and restricted items such as plant products, wood and cash amounts over $10,000.

The DIBP did not directly respond to this question, so it remains unclear whether travellers of the future would be required to inform customs officers verbally that they are carrying such items.

The automated SmartGate system at Sydney Airport now means that a departing passenger’s exit through immigration — not counting the security X-ray check of hand luggage — can take less than a minute.

 

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