Australians could soon travel without passports, trading in their traditional ones for passports stored in a cloud.

Australia to trial cloud passports.

Australia to trial cloud passports. Image by Diana Parkhouse / CC BY 2.0

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop confirmed the Australian government is in discussions with New Zealand about trialling cloud passports for trans-Tasman travel. The move, which Bishop hopes will ‘go global’, would see a traveller’s identity and biometrics data stored in a cloud.

However, Bishop conceded the trials will proceed only if global security requirements can be met. “Australia prides itself on having one of the most secure passports in the world, but by embracing and harnessing new technologies, we might be able to do better,” Bishop told reporters in Melbourne.

The move to cloud passports would address the ongoing issue of passports being lost or stolen, with the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) registering some 38,718 missing Australian passports in 2014–15.

The concept of cloud passports originated from DFAT’s ‘Ideas Challenge’. In early 2015 members of the diplomatic corps in Canberra and Australia’s 110 missions worldwide were invited to put forward their ideas to radically change business-as-usual processes. 392 ideas were generated and voted on, with the top ten presented to a panel that included the Foreign Affairs Minister.