In order to increase performance in palmprint recognition systems, various devices are normally used to restrict the movement of the hand. These can cause problems, especially for those users with physical disabilities. They also cause significant hygiene problems in multi-user systems. Recently, studies on palmprint recognition systems have progressed towards the development of unconstrained, contactless and unrestricted background techniques. The most common problem encountered in these studies is the alignment arising from the free movement of the hand. Despite 3D hand-acquisition devices which offer extra recognition features to overcome this problem, the applicability of these devices is low because of their increased cost. In this study, a stereo camera was proposed. Although due to matching problems, it is difficult to achieve precise, distinct feature extraction in the unrestricted 3D environment used for palmprint recognition, the orientation of the hand in 3D space can be determined by obtaining depth information. In this study, the depth information was extracted by using the binocular stereo approach. First, the orientation of the hand was estimated by fitting a surface model associated with the eigenvectors of the depth information. Pose correction was then accomplished by establishing a relationship between the orientation and the images. The pose correction greatly relieved the perspective distortion that usually occurs within the various poses of the hands. Next, the region of interest was determined by performing segmentation on the corrected images using the Active Appearance Model (MM). The palmprint features were then extracted via Gabor-based Kernel Fisher Discriminant Analysis. In order to demonstrate the performance of the proposed approach, a new dataset was compiled from stereo images within various scenarios collected from 138 different individuals. As a result of these experimental studies, the EER values, especially on the images captured from different hand orientations in 3D, were reduced from around 14-0.75%. With the help of this suggested approach, the palmprint recognition system was transformed into a more portable form by removing the closed-box mechanisms and equipment restricting movement of the hand. This system can automatically perform pose estimation, hand segmentation and recognition processes without any special intervention. (C) 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.