​Border Force SmartGates cannot handle names longer than 24 characters

Passengers arriving into Australia with names longer than 24 characters need to join the manual processing line due to a glitch in the current SmartGates system.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

Australians arriving back into country with names longer than 24 characters are unable to use the SmartGates at the arrival terminal located in Australia's international airports.

A spokesperson for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection told ZDNet earlier this week that the current system can only process travellers with names up to 24 characters long, and passengers with longer names are referred to an officer for manual processing.

According to the Department, the number of affected passengers is low.

One of the unlucky few include Chris Neugebauer whose full name contains a total of 34 characters.

"I've consistently been rejected by arrivals SmartGates in Australia, since at least 2012, maybe earlier. I can successfully use the departures SmartGates at Sydney Airport, and don't have issues in other countries, notably New Zealand," Neugebauer said.

In a tweet, Neugebauer was informed by the Australian Border Force that due to current system limitations, he is able to join the SmartGate assistance queue, which the department claims is "generally shorter than other manual processing queues".

The department said it is working to solve the glitch to allow people with longer names to use the arrivals SmartGates; however, in their reply to Neugebauer the department said the solution for the design "remains unscheduled".

The SmartGates, which are supplied and maintained by Morpho, were introduced to all Australian international airports by 2009, following limited trials that started in 2002. The primary reason for the introduction was to cut passenger processing time when entering Australia.

The system relies on biometric facial recognition and the e-Passport authentication system.

In September last year, SmartGates suffered a malfunction in Brisbane and Sydney international airport terminals that left passengers unable to use the SmartGates to enter the country.

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