Customs Harnesses New Technology
Customs Harnesses New Technology In Monitoring Cruise Passengers
The New Zealand Customs Service is using new computer technology to improve its screening of cruise ship passengers and crew arriving in New Zealand waters.
With over 50,000 passengers and 20,000 crew scheduled to arrive in New Zealand over this summer, Customs has been working with the cruise industry to ensure security requirements can be met.
Customs Air and Marine National Manager John Secker says Customs has come up with an IT (information technology) solution that will balance its two primary objectives of facilitating travel and managing risk.
“What it means in practice is that Customs Officers board before the cruise ship reaches New Zealand, and using laptop computers equipped with passport readers and CD writers will scan passengers’ travel documents while still at sea. Using the internet facilities on board the vessel, the information is downloaded to Customs database CusMod, prior to arrival at a New Zealand port.
“Any passengers or crew of Customs interest can be identified before their arrival in New Zealand and an appropriate response to managing risk can be planned in advance.
“The system is working successfully with the first download from a cruise ship in the Milford Sounds proving that distance is not necessarily an obstacle.
John Secker says the cruise industry and Customs have worked together to develop the process so the needs of each party can be met.
“We accept it’s not in anyone’s interest to delay cruise passengers from getting off the ships and experiencing New Zealand. When they’re only here for a day, we want to assist them to take advantage of what we have to offer, but we also have to be mindful of the risks that have to be managed.”