This article is part of our ongoing Business Travel 101 series for newcomers to the world of business travel.
Don't take your Australian passport for granted – here are six ways to make the most of it.
1. Make your passport last longer when running out of pages
Many business travellers find their passport can run short of empty pages, especially when a simple visa takes up a whole page to itself. This is a problem exacerbated by the axing of the 66-page ‘frequent traveller’ passport.
The easy fix? Pop a few sticky notes on blank pages near the back of the passport, with a short and polite message to immigration officers asking them to stamp other (probably also-stamped) pages each time you enter and leave the country
2. Get a second Australian passport as your 'spare'
While a single Australian passport is sufficient for most travellers, very frequent jetsetters can apply for a second passport under the “concurrent passport” scheme.
This comes in particularly useful when you’re waiting for a visa to be approved for one trip, but you need to take another in the meantime – particularly if such travel arises at short notice and can’t be delayed.
Aa second passport can also be useful if you're headed to a country which typically refuses entry to those who’ve visited a specific country – you could keep those problematic stamps in your regular passport, and use the second, ‘clean’ passport for that trip (or vice versa).
3. Skip the queues at Hong Kong airport
Your Australian passport can be used in Hong Kong's automated e-Channel lanes – the same ones which residents use – so you don't need to line up at the conventional immigration desks.
This is a real time-saver when your flight into Hong Kong arrives at peak travel times, and doubly so if like many business travellers you have only carry-on luggage: you can zip through the electronic passport gates and head straight out to meet you driver or catch the Airport Express train.
Registering for e-Channel access is fast and free, and can be done either at the airport, at Hong Kong Immigration Headquarters in Wan Chai or the arrival hall of Macau Ferry Terminal.
4. Enjoy fast-track immigration at Singapore's Changi Airport
In the same way, Singapore’s Frequent Traveller Program provides fast-track clearance at passport control via automated lanes rather than manned desks – and also removes the need to complete passenger cards on arrival and departure.
To qualify, you need only to have entered and exited Singapore (not simply made an in-transit stop at the airport) at least twice in the previous 24 months, using the same passport.
This means that even a once-a-year visitor can register and be in a taxi and on the way to their hotel while other passengers on the same flight are still standing in line.
You can enrol in Singapore's eIACS or ‘enhanced-Immigration Automated Clearance System’ scheme at Changi Terminal 3 or at the head office of the country’s Immigration & Checkpoints Authority in downtown Singapore.
5. Speed through Dubai's Smart Gates on arrival and departure.
Next time you hop onto an Emirates flight, consider enrolling your Australian passport in the Smart Gate program used by United Arab Emirates citizens and residents.
When touching down in Dubai, proceed through ‘normal’ passport control and when you reach the immigration official, ask about on-the-spot Smart Gate registration.
If you’re clear to enrol, you’ll be asked to briefly stare at a camera for an iris scan, and a sticker will be attached to the back of your passport, highlighting that you’re now eligible for Smart Gate:
(You can also sign-up at dedicated Smart Gate Registration counters, but this potentially means lining up twice: once to register, and once to clear passport control, so heading straight for a regular passport desk can often be faster, especially if you have fast-track pass from your airline as a business class or first class passenger.)
6. Get ready to jump those horrible queues at London Heathrow
All Australian passport holders will be able to skip the often-lengthy immigration queues at United Kingdom airports from the middle of this year, with the UK Government opening its ePassport lanes to Australian travellers (along with those from New Zealand, the USA, Canada and Japan).
This will largely make the UK’s paid Registered Traveller scheme redundant for Australians, as access to the ePassport channels on arrival in the UK – particularly at the crowded London Heathrow airport, closely followed by London Gatwick – is the program’s biggest perk.