4 Mar 2018

Departure cards could be gone by Xmas - Stats NZ

8:29 pm on 4 March 2018

Paper-based departure cards for people leaving the country could be removed by Christmas, Statistics New Zealand says.

A New Zealand Passenger Departure Card.

Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wants them gone after the issue was raised at the Australia-New Zealand Leadership Forum.

Currently those leaving the country fill out a written form, with the information used for immigration and tourism data.

Australia removed all departure cards in July last year and is working to replace it with a digital solution.

Population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said Statistics New Zealand was hoping to follow suit by Christmas 2018.

"This would remove the current primary purpose of the departure card and would mean six and a half million fewer transactions between government and travellers."

But like Australia, New Zealand would still need arrival cards for now.

"I think the reduction of the burden, six and a half million fewer transactions, from our point of view would be a big win for New Zealand."

Mr Dolan said they were still looking at alternative ways of collecting the data.

Travel company House of Travel is backing the move.

Its commercial director Brent Thomas said the move would help make travelling easier.

"Airport companies around the country and the world have tried to make it as easy as possible, so anything that does make it easier will be welcomed."

Mr Thomas said there had also been questions in the past about the validity of the cards and the data which was gathered from them.

"A lot of people have said if I'm going to two or three countries what do I put on it? And we're not sure if they get all the cards and use them or just take a sample."

However, he said he could see the validity for inbound cards, especially to find where customers were coming from.