Biometric data is an increasingly important tool in identity management globally, helping countries reduce fraud and integrity risks. The Australian Government incorporates the collection of biometrics (fingerprints and facial images) into the visa application process in certain countries.
Biometric collection countries and visa subclasses
Applicants lodging a visa application in selected locations, might need to provide biometrics in support of each visa application they lodge, unless an exemption applies. A detailed list of the
selected locations and visa subclasses that require collection of fingerprints and facial images are available.
Visa applicants located in participating countries that submit their application in person at an Australian Visa Application Centre (AVAC) will be asked to provide their biometrics at the same time.
Visa applicants located in participating countries that apply online or post their application will be sent a letter if they are required to provide biometrics. These applicants will need to attend an AVAC or Australian Biometrics Collection Centre (ABCC) in person.
A digital camera collects facial images. A 10-digit fingerprint scan with a digital finger scanner collects fingerprints. They are both collected using a quick, discreet and non-intrusive process.
AVACs and ABCCs charge you a service fee covering a range of services including biometric collection. For more details regarding these fees, check the website of the AVAC or ABCC
provider in your country.
Safekeeping and use of biometrics
Facial images and fingerprint scans are stored on secure departmental databases. Only authorised officers under the Migration Act 1958 (the Act), as regulated by the Privacy Act 1988, can access the biometrics of applicants.
For permitted purposes under the Act, the Department can share fingerprints and facial image of applicants with certain Australian Government Departments and agencies, in addition to international organisations and countries. This includes for the purpose of verifying identity, checking whether a client has effective protection in another country, combating identity fraud or determining if the client has a criminal history.
Minors and incapable people
If you are travelling with people under the age of five or who are deemed an incapable person, the following rules apply to biometric collection outside of Australia.
If individuals are:
- under five years of age, an incapable person or are physically unable to provide a fingerprint scan, you will only need to provide a facial image
- five years of age or over, you will need to provide both fingerprint scans and a facial image.
Under the Migration Act, an incapable person is a person who is incapable of understanding the general nature and effect of, and purposes of, a requirement to provide biometrics.