This article is part of our ongoing Business Travel 101 series for newcomers to the world of business travel.
When returning home, most Australian travellers love using the automated SmartGate lines to zip through passport control – which are often faster than the dedicated yet manned ‘express’ lanes – so why do airlines still hand out Express Path cards on arriving flights, and when are they useful?
Here are just some of the reasons you shouldn’t leave that inbound express card in your business class seat pocket.
1. If you’ve recently travelled to a Yellow Fever risk country
If your travels have taken you to places like Africa, Central or South America or the Caribbean in the six days prior to your arrival into Australia, you won’t be able to use SmartGate after touching down: and even if you approach a kiosk, you’ll be directed to manual processing anyway.
This is where your Express Path card comes in handy, because there’s no separate ‘Australians requiring a Yellow Fever check’ line at passport control – you need to line up with everybody else, so whip out that Express card and have your immunisation certificate ready for inspection.
While this applies to all passengers arriving on non-stop flights to Australia from places like Johannesburg and Santiago, it also applies to those on connecting or multi-city itineraries, who may be arriving on flights from anywhere else.
2. If you’re travelling with children under 10 years of age
Although this might not apply to your regular business trips, if you’re returning home from a (well-deserved) family holiday and have a child in your party under 10 years of age, they can’t use SmartGate, which means you’ll need to accompany them through manual passport control.
You’ll also need to queue at regular passport control with Australian children aged 10-15 years if there isn’t a second adult travelling with you.
3. For all passengers, at the final Customs and Quarantine check
Even if you keep that Express card in your pocket for passport control and zip on through the SmartGate line, there’s another opportunity to skip the queues at the final exit, after collecting any luggage.
Many Australian airports provide three exit paths: the green channel for regular travellers with nothing to declare, the red channel for passengers making a declaration, and the Express Path exit for eligible travellers – and during peak times, that Express exit can be very useful.
4. For foreign nationals visiting Australia
Don’t forget, although you might be able to use SmartGate on arrival into Australia, many travellers can’t, which is again where such Express Path cards are welcomely received.
Currently, Australian arrivals SmartGates can be used by foreigners with a passport from Canada, China, France, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Macau, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the UK and the USA, but everyone else requires manual processing.
That said, all foreign nations travelling with children under 16 years of age must also be processed manually and can’t use SmartGate, even if travelling with a passport issued by the countries above – so whether you’re a local or are just visiting Australia, don’t toss that Express Path card!