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Airlines cooperating to provide passenger info


Airlines cooperating to provide passenger information

The New Zealand Customs Service will be receiving advance electronic information about passengers on all flights arriving in New Zealand by the end of this month.

Customs Minister Rick Barker said this would give New Zealand an extra security tool by allowing New Zealand authorities to assess passenger information before flights landed.

Rick Barker said all airlines that regularly flew into New Zealand had now agreed to feed data direct to the Customs Service's computer system before flights arrived.

Some airlines were already supplying the data electronically to Customs, while others are currently entering the system. All airlines will be supplying the data by December 31.

This will allow Customs to check the data for people of interest to New Zealand authorities including the Police and Immigration Service.

The supply of advance passenger information is a first step towards setting up the APP (Advance Passenger Processing) system, which will allow the New Zealand Immigration Service and Customs to analyse information before passengers board their flights to New Zealand.

When in place, APP will allow overseas authorities to take action, such as preventing someone from boarding an inbound flight, rather than action being taken when a flight reaches New Zealand.

The New Zealand Immigration Service is leading the development of APP.

Under the Customs and Excise Act, Mr Barker said airlines were obliged to provide data about passengers, but they had not previously been required to provide it before flights landed.

"I am delighted that the airlines have been able to arrange to provide the data prior to landing, and in an electronic form that allows for rapid computer analysis."

Mr Barker said Customs had worked intensely with the Board of Airline Representatives (BARNZ) and individual airlines to get the system in place.

"Air New Zealand has led the way, first trialling an electronic system with the Customs Service, and then being the first to sign up to supply the information on an ongoing basis.

"It is good to see other airlines also committing themselves to new security measures. It has been challenging for some of them to get their systems organised, but Customs is confident the system will work well."

Supply of electronic advance passenger information is one of the targets set by APEC for improving security in the Asia Pacific region.

The New Zealand Customs Service already receives advance electronic information about passengers arriving in New Zealand on cruise ships.

The information is transmitted electronically from the ship on its way to New Zealand, and analysed by Customs computer system before the ship arrives at a New Zealand port.

The latest available Customs figures show that over 3500 cruise ship passengers arrived in New Zealand from July to the end of November this year.

Mr Barker said other Governments are introducing or already have similar requirements for advance passenger information.

Customs requires passport data such as names, age and nationality for crew and passengers, including those transiting through New Zealand.

Customs use of the data is consistent with the provisions of the Privacy Act, the Official Information Act and other relevant legislation.

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