Travel volumes continue to increase in 2016/17.

In 2016/17 Customs processed a record 13.273 million international passengers,12 an increase of 9.3 % from the 2015/16 total of 12.144 million. 

The vast majority of travellers are arriving and departing air passengers (a total of 12.899 million in 2016/17). Our processing of the volume growth in air passengers has been assisted by increasing use of SmartGate. 

SmartGate automated passenger processing technology

The self-service option provided by SmartGate improves the passenger experience while providing productivity benefits for Customs. It also contributes to Better Public Services Result 10 and to supporting the Business Growth Agenda objective of increasing the value of tourism.

An increasing proportion of air passengers self-process through SmartGate. A total of 5.765 million arriving and departing passengers used SmartGate in 2016/17, a 29.1 % increase (1.300 million passengers) from 2015/16. A majority of these (4.849 million) were Australian and New Zealand passengers, with the remainder (0.916 million) being passengers from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada.

Customs, in conjunction with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE – Immigration NZ), continues to look to extend eligibility to other nationalities. Following a trial begun late in the 2016/17 year, eligibility will be formally extended to Chinese electronic passport holders in 2017/18. Further countries are being considered.

We also expanded SmartGate in 2016/17 through the continued roll-out of the next-generation technology discussed in Border modernisation.

Risk management

The source countries for travellers are now more diverse as a result of strong economic growth in Asian countries and more direct flights to New Zealand (for example, from China, the Middle East, and South America). This brings new and greater risks that Customs must address.

We aim to limit our interaction with legitimate travellers who comply with border requirements. In 2016/17 we continued to refine our approach to the risk management of travellers and how best to effectively target our interventions to risk. This is discussed further in Intelligence-led.



12This includes all people arriving in and departing New Zealand by air or sea excluding crew.