Biometrics programme

The Australian Government incorporates the collection of biometrics into the visa application process in certain countries outside Australia.

The term 'biometrics' commonly refers to a measurable physical characteristic or personal behavioural trait that is unique to an individual such as fingerprints, facial structure, the iris or a person's voice.

Biometrics are an important tool in identity management globally, helping countries reduce fraud and integrity risks. Other countries such as France, Ireland, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and countries in the Middle East, also collect biometrics to improve visa and border checking processes.

The benefits of collecting biometrics include:

  • better protecting clients from identity fraud
  • making travel to Australia safer
  • strengthening Australia's border security
  • improving national security.

Australian Visa Application and Biometric Collection Centres​

Australia has a global network of Visa Application Centres (AVACs) and Biometric Collection Centres (ABCCs) with biometric collection facilities. AVACs and ABCCs are run by Service Delivery Partners (SDP) contracted by us to provide visa application and biometric collection services.

While SDPs are contracted to accept visa applications, decisions about granting or refusing visas are made by us.

Commercial service delivery partners

Biometrics are collected for certain Australian visa applicants by the SDP:

Selection of Australian missions and participating countries

The locations outside Australia included in the programme are selected on the basis of:

  • the Australian Government's intention to provide broad geographic coverage for the scheme
  • Australia's national security and fraud risks in visa caseloads
  • the availability of shared visa application facilities with the Five Country Conference partners.

For more information see: Countries and Visa subclasses included in the Biometric programme.

Visa application lodgement and the biometric collection process

Applicants lodging a visa application in a selected location, might need to provide biometrics in relation to each visa application they lodge, unless exempt.

Visa applicants located in participating countries that post their application or apply online will be sent a letter if they are required to attend an AVAC or ABCC in person to provide their biometrics.

Visa applicants located in participating countries that submit their application in person at an AVAC will be asked to provide their biometrics at the same time.

Biometrics are collected using a quick, discreet and non-intrusive process that captures a facial image with a digital camera and a 10-digit fingerprint scan with a digital finger scanner. For more information see: Biometrics collection.

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.

Under the Act, we are allowed to provide the fingerprints and photographs of applicants to certain Australian Government Departments and agencies in addition to international organisations and countries for a permitted purpose. 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.

In all cases where biometrics are provided to other agencies or countries, we will take steps to protect the applicant's privacy.

Exclusions from biometrics collection

Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and New Zealand citizens are excluded from biometrics collection.

Applicants for an Australian Declaratory Visa or Australian Citizenship and APEC Business Travel Card holders are also excluded. Applicants who are under five years of age, incapable people, or those physically unable to provide a fingerprint scan, only need to provide a facial photograph.

Some applicants that apply online might also be exempt from providing their biometrics.

If an applicant is an incapable person or under 16 years of age, a parent or legal guardian must be present when biometrics are collected.

Detailed information for visa applicants is available from Biometrics collection.​​​​​​​​​