Biometric information

We use biometric information, like photographs, fingerprints and iris scans to verify identity.

Biometric information

INZ confirms the identity of a person by comparing a photograph or fingerprint to a stored version. Facial recognition using a person’s photograph is the most common use of biometric information. In certain circumstances we may use DNA sampling.

The benefits of biometrics to New Zealand

New Zealand uses biometrics to counter identity fraud. Fraud may hide a criminal record or be used falsely to claim refugee status.

Immigration fraud damages New Zealand because it displaces genuine immigrants. It is expensive and time-consuming to fix.

Detecting fraud using biometrics:

  • reduces the cost of managing our border
  • enables early detection of fraud
  • improves public safety by limiting the ability of criminals and terrorists to slip through.

How Immigration New Zealand uses biometric information

The Immigration Act 2009 (the Act) enables Immigration New Zealand (INZ) to gather biometric information.

INZ collects both photographs and fingerprints to:

  • identify and check the identity of foreigners seeking resettlement
  • help identify refugees under New Zealand’s quota programme
  • identify and check people under investigation at the border
  • record the identity of deportees and stop them re-entering New Zealand under another identity
  • identify and check people suspected of breaching the Act
  • expose assumed identities.

We tell you when we intend to collect your biometric information. You’ll have the opportunity to see the information and the right to dispute its accuracy.

The Act requires us to collect your biometric information when you apply for a visa. If you refuse, we can reject your application.

Although New Zealand citizens provide facial identity through their passports, INZ never collects their fingerprints.

Biometric information sharing

New Zealand is a member of the Five Country Conference (FCC). That’s an international agreement to exchange information on immigration matters. Its members are:

  • New Zealand
  • Australia
  • United Kingdom
  • Canada
  • The United States

The FCC shares fingerprint information to detect immigration and identity fraud. When one member asks for fingerprint information from another, the receiving country destroys the fingerprint if it finds no match. Members do not share biographical data like names or personal details unless they match a fingerprint. They don’t share their own citizens’ data.

Information that members share can support prosecution and deportation of individuals.

Privacy Impact Assessment agreement with Australia PDF 351KB

Privacy Impact Assessment agreement with Canada PDF 449KB

Privacy Impact Assessment agreement with United Kingdom PDF 420KB

Privacy Impact Assessment agreement with United States of America PDF 360KB

INZ has completed a Privacy Impact Assessment of the system in close consultation with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

Privacy Impact Assessment report PDF 1MB