New Zealand is to join Australia and the United States in a new APEC system to detect the misuse of stolen and lost passports.
Trialed from 2005, the Regional Movement Alert List (RMAL) system is now expanding to include New Zealand with discussions now taking place on widening participation of APEC Member Economies.
The system will immediately identify passengers, when they check in at airports, if they attempt to use lost or stolen passports from participating economies.
The U.S. National 9/11 Commission Report stated "For terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons".
The Chair of APEC's Informal Experts Group on Business Mobility, Mr. Vincent McMahon, said "the expansion of the RMAL to New Zealand will mark an important development in improving regional security."
"As this system expands to cover other jurisdictions the opportunities for people to use stolen or lost passports will be dramatically reduced.
"Now, any time a passenger attempts to travel with a lost or stolen Australian, New Zealand or United States passport to or between these economies, they will be detected and border agencies alerted.
New Zealand's Border Security Operations Manager, Mr Arron Baker, noted "The problem in the past was that it was difficult to detect a stolen or lost passport unless it was used in the economy or country that had issued it."
The RMAL system uses a messaging system to interface with participating economies' document databases to conduct real-time checks, while protecting individual privacy because the system does not rely on sharing data.
The ability to conduct these checks will enhance security as well as facilitate movement of properly documented travelers, without impacting the integrity or any functionality of existing border control systems. The system is also supported by 24/7 operations to help resolve any incidents.
The pilot program between Australia and the United States began in September of 2005. After the findings of the trial were presented to APEC Ministers and Leaders in November, the program was endorsed and other economies are now able to join.
The APEC IEGBM has been meeting for two days in Ha Noi, Viet Nam, as part of the first series of APEC meetings in 2006.
Additional details about the IEGBM are available at www.businessmobility.org