Internal Affairs says Australia's cloud passports only "conceptual" for now

No formal approach has yet been made by the Australian government to NZ.

The Department of Internal Affairs says it has discussed the idea of a passport-free travel system at a "conceptual level" with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, but that is as far as the concept has progressed.

No formal approach has yet been made by the Australian government to New Zealand, it said, despite the Sydney Morning Herald reporting on Thursday that Australia and New Zealand were in talks to trial a 'cloud' passport.

By storing a traveller's identity and biometrics data in the cloud, passengers would no longer have to travel with documentation and run the risk of it being stolen or lost.

The idea for cloud passports resulted from an ideas challenge held earlier this year by the Australian DFAT, which urged staff to produce game-changing ideas for business. Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said while the pilot project would need to meet a few key security requirements before proceeding, she predicted the passport-less travel system would eventually go global.

A DIA spokesman said "it's an interesting idea" which it would continue to watch. "However, we are not aware of any plans for New Zealand to move this way."

New Zealand ministers have voted in favour of increasing passports' lifespan from five to ten years, with the cost rising from the current $135 to $180.

The government is throwing in $20 million to help subsidise the change until July 2018. Cabinet papers showed the doubling of the lifespan could result in the cost of getting a passport rising to $404 by 2021 unless the government spends more than $200 million subsidising the service.