Fed Govt scraps digital passenger declarations

Digital Passenger Declaration shelved

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil has revealed the Labor Government will shelve the Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD) system introduced by Morrison Government earlier this year.

The move comes as the Government scraps the requirement – from 6 July – for incoming passengers to declare their Covid-19 vaccination status when entering Australia.

O’Neil said the new Federal Government had “listened to feedback about the DPD”, opting to revert to the paper process – at least for now.

“While in time it will replace the paper-based incoming passenger card, it needs a lot more work to make it user-friendly,” she said.

The DPD system, which was rolled out by the previous Government in February this year to manage Covid-19 and other biosecurity risks, captures passengers’ contact and flight details, travel history, as well as vaccination and quarantine status up to seven days before they enter Australia.

The DPD system effectively supplanted the stand-in Australian Travel Declaration (ATD) platform – the web-based portal introduced at the start of the pandemic to capture travellers’ details and vaccination statuses.

DPDs were intended to eventually replace the paper-based Incoming Passenger Cards (which are used for customs and quarantine checks), enabling passengers to complete their declarations via an Apple or Android compatible app or online form.

Online reviews of the DPP app have been scathing, with various users blasting it as “poorly designed”, “stress-inducing”, a “poor experience”, and a “digital journey… [that] is broken end to end”.

A number of users reported a “buggy” and “glitchy” experience on the app, with a duplicative data entry process, errors in scanning faces or documents that could not be rectified, and frequent system crashes.

On the Apple App Store alone, the app has received a rating of 1.3 out of five from more than 1,200 reviews. This is despite at least six updates to the app since its initial February release – the most recent of which was less than a week ago.

Despite the Government’s effort to create a fully digitalised end-to-end experience for this declarations process, passengers were still required to fill out the paper-based Incoming Passenger Card, with Home Affairs yet to integrate the DPD with its backend border control system.

Accenture was awarded a three-year, $7.5 million contract last September to develop and roll out the DPD system.