New Zealand will go live today with the Regional Management Alert List (RMAL) pilot scheme for detecting the misuse of stolen and lost passports.
After its successful initial implementation in Australia and the United States the RMAL system is also expected to expand to other APEC Member Economies and even countries outside of the APEC region.
The system allows participating economies to detect the use of invalid travel documents either at airport check-in counters before passengers board flights, or before their arrival at their destination.
The initiative was formally launched at the United States Embassy in Wellington earlier in the week by New Zealand's Internal Affairs Minister, Rick Barker, Immigration Minister, David Cunliffe and United States Ambassador to New Zealand William P McCormick.
With the first flights to travel between Australia, New Zealand and the United States RMAL will become active between these three economies.
Mr Barker said RMAL will provide a significant security boost for participating APEC Member Economies.
"It again underlines the value and integrity of national passports by reducing the likelihood of someone misusing a lost or stolen passport for criminal purposes."
RMAL follows other initiatives in New Zealand and around the APEC Region to enhance passport security, including Advance Passenger Processing, the introduction of e-Passports with leading edge security features, stricter issuing processes and much bigger penalties for passport crime, Mr Barker said.
Mr Cunliffe said the checking of passengers would contribute to more effective border security. Screening passports when passengers check in ensures a higher level of assurance that only people using authorised documents can travel on those documents.
"We have been able to detect the attempted use of lost or stolen Australian travel documents for some time. When New Zealand joins the RMAL system on 31 March, we will be able to do this for United States travel documents as well."
Ambassador McCormick said the United States was delighted New Zealand was joining the RMAL program.
"This will be an important step in our joint efforts to secure our borders against terrorism and transnational crime. The addition of New Zealand to the pilot program will also expand the RMAL from a bilateral to a multi-lateral framework and lay the groundwork for other APEC members to join in the future," Mr McCormick said.
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 other economies and non-APEC countries are now able to join.
A fact sheet on RMAL is available.