Tips for using the app, including downloading PDF files

The Home Office has denied there are any bugs with its new passenger arrival app, despite receiving hundreds of scathing reviews from users who complained of usability issues.

Australians returning from overseas travel, as well as all other arrivals, including those in transit, must now complete a detailed online form before arrival, including uploading their passport details, vaccination certificate and negative COVID-19 test results.

But the Australian Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD) app has been criticized for not working properly since its launch in mid-February.

The app receives a rating of just 1.3 out of five stars on the Apple App Store and Google Play, with users complaining that it doesn’t work or takes too long to complete.

“Total rubbish”, “useless” and “awful” are just some of the typical comments in user reviews for the app.

“Absolutely one of the worst apps I’ve had to deal with,” one user wrote. “It took me over an hour to do something that could have been ticked off on a piece of paper in under three minutes.”

Specifics range from users having difficulty downloading documents in PDF format (the format of most vaccine and test result certificates), to users’ passwords not being recognized, to the screen becoming empty randomly during the process.

Screenshots of Border Force's Digital Passenger Declaration App

The DPD attempts to scan your passport using your phone’s camera as well as to read the biometric data contained in the chip in your passport.

Others have complained that the app still requires internet access once the form is completed, making it difficult to show up to check-in staff at foreign airports if Wi-Fi isn’t available.

However, the Home Office denied that the app had any major problems, despite complaints.

“Every passenger can complete a DPD using the web or mobile apps. There are no ‘bugs’ preventing them from doing so,” a spokesperson said.

The app and web forms are designed to allow visitors to pass through immigration without having to present their vaccination certificates or negative COVID-19 test results to border officials.

If the digital passenger declaration has been submitted correctly, Australian passengers can enter the country using airport SmartGates as they did before the pandemic.

Although he denied the digital statement had any bugs, the spokesperson said DPD would be updated.

“User feedback is actively monitored and taken into account. Improvements have been and will continue to be made to the DPD applications over the coming months,” the spokesperson said.

More than 630,000 passengers have successfully submitted a DPD since its launch on February 15, with around 17,000 submitted every day according to the Home Office.

Passengers who do not or only partially complete the DPD will be referred to a Border Force officer for manual checks of their documents, the spokesperson said.

Here are some tips on using the app, based on some of the most common complaints found in user reviews:

You don’t need to print a PDF and take a photo of it

One of the most common complaints about the app is that it doesn’t accept PDF files, which is the format in which most people receive their vaccine certificates and negative COVID-19 test results (more required after April 17). the app accepts PDF files, many users report that they cannot upload anything except images (JPG or PNG files). This has led to some people trying to find a place to print a copy of their PDF while on vacation, so they can take a picture and upload it.

There is an easier way: just open the PDF on your phone and take a screenshot. To do this on an iPhone, press the side button and the volume up button at the same time, or the side button and the home button at the same time (depending on your iPhone model). See a more detailed explanation here. For Samsung devices, the screenshot method varies depending on the model. To see this page for details.

Once you take the screenshot, it will be saved to your photos and you can upload it to the DPD from there.

Can’t click “I agree”? Scroll down

Application pages like the “Consent to Collect Information” page contain large sections of text in a window. If you can’t click on the “I accept” button to go to the next screen, it’s probably because you haven’t read all the text. You must scroll all the way to the bottom before the app will allow you to click “I Agree”.

Screenshots of Border Force's Digital Passenger Declaration App

Always scroll down so that the next field is at the top of your screen

When you enter the country information, the application searches through a predetermined list, which appears as a drop-down menu below the field. However, if you haven’t scrolled down so the field is at the top of your screen, your keyboard will cover the drop-down list options. If you type in the country name and just press “Enter”, rather than selecting something from the drop-down list, the field will simply become blank and you will have to re-enter the details.

So make sure you have scrolled down so you can see the drop-down list on your screen and select it.

Screenshots of Border Force's Digital Passenger Declaration App

Take screenshots of your summary page

Border Force recommends printing your summary page once you have completed the form. Since you’ll likely be filling out the form on your phone, while abroad printing out the page will be a major issue for most people.

Instead, use the screenshot feature (described above) to get photos of your summary page (this may require multiple screenshots because the summary takes up more than one screen on your phone). We hope this satisfies the staff during check-in, because you can’t access the app without internet access, so if you don’t have roaming or wifi at the airport, you won’t you won’t be able to show the summary page to staff.

Lance B. Holton