Government's digital passenger app gets scathing reviews

Are you planning to head overseas soon? If so, brace yourself for the Australia Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD) app experience when coming home.

Gone are the days when you could sign your arrival card using a borrowed pen during the final approach to an Aussie airport. The new Australia DPD is somewhat more complicated.

Read: Travel SOS: What not to touch at the airport

Australians returning from overseas trips, along with all other arrivals including those in transit, now have to fill out a detailed online form before they arrive, including uploading their passport details, travel history and vaccine certificate.

Since its launch in February, the app has been widely slammed across both the Apple and Google app stores. Complaints span everything from issues in the app scanning passports to signing into the app to even being able to register in the first place.

The app currently has a rating of 1.2 out of five stars on the Google Play Store and 1.6 out of five on the IOS App Store.

One of the most recent comments claims: “This app is poorly designed and programmed. There are bugs and much of the functionality does not work quickly or at all. This is a complete disaster.”

Even if the app worked flawlessly, what if you don’t own a smartphone? The most recent statistics available show around 20 million Australians now own a smartphone, but this leaves around six million residents and citizens wondering how it is they’re going to be able to travel internationally.

“The Australian government requires all travellers to submit critical health information in the DPD electronically unless exceptional circumstances prevent them from doing so. Having this information ahead of your departure supports Australia’s management of COVID-19 – keeping international travellers and our community safe,” a spokesman from the Department of Home Affairs told Escape.

Read: COVID test for international travellers to Australia ditched

If you don’t have a way to complete the form, you can get around this by showing up at the departure airport a little earlier than needed and declaring your inability to submit the form electronically at the check-in desk.

“If you are unable to complete the DPD online, airline staff will provide a manual form at check-in only,” the spokesman says.

“You will need to provide your important health declarations and information, including vaccination status and pre-departure testing results, on the form.”

During my research, the most frequent advice I’ve seen is to allow yourself plenty of time to complete the form while you have a stable internet connection. You can complete your DPD up to a week prior to arrival and it must be submitted before you depart for Australia.

For further information about the DPD, visit here. Look at the frequently asked questions section for help completing the form.

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