By Kim Fischer, Communications Strategist, Australian Passport Office
Most people don’t realise the complex processes and technology involved in making the 14 million active Australian passports in use today. A new series of short videos aim to show the innovation behind our highly secure passports.
In the videos, Isaiah Firebrace, 2016 Australian X Factor winner and Australian representative to the 2017 Eurovision song contest*, takes us on a journey through the passport process: the high-tech approach used for embedding security features, the passport application process itself, and the integrity and security measures used to ensure a seamless journey through the airport gates as people travel overseas.
How we make passports
The first video provides a behind-the-scenes look at Note Printing Australia (NPA) in Melbourne, the company that produces all Australian passports. We get to see the embedded security features and the detailed design work that goes into creating our passports.
The passports are printed on the same presses as banknotes for Australia and overseas markets, using the same high-security print technology. For this reason, the printing facilities at NPA are rarely seen for security reasons. The footage from NPA makes this video an exclusive peek behind the curtains.
Part 2 Applying for a passport
The second part of the video showcases DFAT’s new online application system, which has increased the ease and efficiency of getting a new passport. Around 63 per cent of applicants currently choose to use the online system, and the percentage is rising every year.
The second video also highlights the important work of our partner organisations. Australia Post delivers passports to your door, while the Australian Passport Information Service call centre in Hobart (run by the Department of Human Services) provides friendly and personalised advice on applying for passports.
Part 3 Ensuring and protecting identity
The third part of the video focuses on how the identity checks used in the application process protect against fraud. Over 180 different automated checks are carried out before making a decision on passport applications, with discrepancies referred to staff for a final determination. The facial comparison team in DFAT are highly trained, with skills in identifying manipulated photos and fraud.
The video also shows the work of the Australian Border Force at Sydney Airport. The information embedded electronically in passports uses encryption to ensure that border officials and SmartGate can verify that the identifying information stored in passport chips has not been changed in any way.
The videos form an ongoing effort to promote Australia’s innovation in creating some of the most trusted and secure passports in the world.
*Previous iteration incorrectly stated Isaiah was a 2017 Eurovision semifinalist