What is the change? A law that expands the collection of travellers’ biometric data will be implemented 16 February 2016.

What does the change mean? The Biometrics Act gives immigration authorities broad powers and greater flexibility to require biometric data and personal identifying information from all travellers, including minors.  

  • Implementation timeframe: 16 February.
  • Who is affected: The Biometrics Act covers all individuals, whether Australian citizens or non-citizens, entering the borders of Australia.
  • Business impact: Employees travelling to Australia should be aware that the law provides authorities with wide latitude to collect biometrics, such as fingerprints, photos or other personal identifiers.

Background: The Biometrics Act amends the Migration Act 1958 by consolidating provisions relating to collection of personal identifiers and strengthening existing legislation. The Act received Royal Assent on 26 August, and the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection has now set its implementation date for 16 February.

Key provisions of the Biometrics Act will:

  • Provide authorities with a single broad, discretionary power to collect one or more personal identifiers from non-citizens and citizens at the border for purposes of migration.
  • Give authorities flexibility as to the types of personal identifiers that may be required, under which circumstances they may be collected and the locations where they may be collected.
  • Allow personal identifiers to be collected by an identification test or by other methods, such as live fingerprint scans using a handheld device, as specified by a border officer or the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection.
  • Allow the Minister or an officer to give notice of biometric requirements either orally, in writing or through an automated system such as email. If notice is mailed or emailed, the recipient is deemed to have received it even if it is not actually received.
  • Allow authorities to collect personal identifiers from minors and incapable persons without their consent and without the presence of a parent or guardian.

BAL Analysis: Foreign employees and all travellers should be prepared to have their biometrics collected at entry ports or other locations when entering Australia.

This alert has been provided by BAL Australia. For additional information, please contact

MARN: 9683856

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