Australia’s Borders Are One Step Closer to Reopening with a New Digital Passenger Declaration

Australia’s Borders Are One Step Closer to Reopening with a New Digital Passenger Declaration
Photo: Justin Tallis, Getty Images

If you needed another reason to get the COVID-19 jab, the Australian government is now preparing a Digital Passenger Declaration for international travel.

The declaration will basically be a digital version of that much-loved incoming passenger card which is now filed away in the nostalgia section of our minds.

It will also replace the COVID-19 Australian Travel Declaration web form.

Passengers entering Australia will need to complete the Digital Passenger Declaration 72 hours prior to getting on a plane. Yes, vaccination status is being captured, but it already was.

Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews is touting the digitally-verified vaccination status as the first step in opening Australia back up to the world. It will also provide the capacity to collect, verify, and share any Australian government-approved and digitally-verified travel, health, and vaccine status info to state and territory health authorities.

The Digital Passenger Declaration will undergo testing before being deployed at scale throughout major Australian airports.

The government has grand plans for the platform now being built by consultancy giant Accenture. It wants to re-use the tech as much as it can, such as for visas, import permits, personnel identity cards, licenses, and registrations.

“Making previously cumbersome processes easier, safer, and more transparent,” the government said.

The government announced plans for the silver bullet platform while scrapping its $92 million troubled visa processing system last year.

While the system is for those wishing to head down under, those already in Australia, specifically parts of Sydney outside the LGAs of concern, are enjoying day two of an ease in restrictions.

What can you now do?

From midnight Monday, fully vaccinated Sydneysiders over the age of 12 that live outside of those “areas of concern” can gather in groups of five for outdoor recreation, like picnics. There are no time restrictions, but gatherings must occur in your LGA or within 5km of home (your mate’s backyard doesn’t count as a public space, I’m afraid).

The vaccination status of the whole group needs to be verifiable, or fines could apply, with the ABC being told the entire group could end up dealing with the repercussions of breaching the public health order.

If you live in those areas of concern, however, the divide remains real. You do get up to two more hours of “outdoor recreation” time, if that helps. Everyone over the age of 16 in a household must be fully vaccinated and if they are, you’re allowed to leave home with them.

Existing rules still apply, so this extra outside time can only be within 5km of your home and before curfew hits at 9:00pm.

In case you’ve been living under a rock and somehow didn’t know, you can verify you’ve had both jabs through the Medicare Express Plus app, you can even add it to your digital wallet. Also, here’s a list of everywhere you need to show proof of vaccination in Australia.