Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Australian Customs and Lines

I honestly think that it is easier to leave Australia then it is to enter it. Leaving Australia is as follows:

1. Fill out a customs form.
2. Wait about 3 mins in a line.
3. Customs person plays on computer and says that you are ok to leave.
4. Go to waiting room and wait for plane.

However, entering Paris from Charles de Gaulle Airport is as follows:

1. Go to foreigner line and wait about 5 mins.
2. Get passport stamped.
3. Enter the EU.

It was 5 am when we entered France, there was one booth open with two people in there stamping passports.

It was even easier leaving from Frankfurt. We waited about a minute and then got our passports stamped and then left.

Malaysia was interesting.

KLIA has a very large customs area. I think there were about 20 of the two people booths open and about half of them were staffed. No waiting in line at all. You filled out your customs form on the flight, they stamped your passport you entered the country.

Leaving was about the same. Most of the customs booths were open (and this was during the Chinese New Year as well, you'd be amazed how empty Kuala Lumpur was considering how many people there aren't Chinese) no lines, no waiting, a couple of stamps and you were out of there.

Then I arrived back in Australia.

My customs form was already filled out on the plane. I had to wait about 10 mins in line because I didn't know (and I guess nearly everyone else didn't either) that you could go to a "self service" thing. They had about 10 booths but they could only hold one person. There were three open booths helping Australians and two for foreigners. In typical Australian fashion everything was slow because of the bureaucracy.

I could understand if this was the proper customs section. That bit was surprisingly efficient. We went in, answered a few questions, and left. That was it. But this was the bit where you get your passport checked before you go and get your bags. That was frustraitingly slow.

It seems to be an Australian phenomena. I had to go to the Centrelink office recently and I learned that they had renovated it. Before they had many sections each with at least one person there to help you (there were places for more but usually it was one person). No more. Now they've changed it to one counter for the elderly and carers and two for everyone else. They melded three sections into one "general enquiries" section just to increase the amount of time you waste in lines.

That sums up dealings with the Australian Government. You spend far more time waiting in lines here then you would over in other countries.

Bravo Australian Government. Bravo.

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