The Changi airport will introduce automated immigration clearance which will allow passengers to depart the city-state without passports, using only biometric data, say officials.
Beginning in 2024, Singapore’s Changi Airport is set to implement automated immigration clearance, enabling passengers to exit the city-state without the need for passports, relying solely on biometric data.
Communications Minister Josephine Teo revealed during a parliamentary session on Monday that Singapore would be among the pioneer countries globally to introduce passport-free, automated immigration clearance. These changes coincide with the recent amendments to Singapore’s Immigration Act.
Changi Airport currently employs biometric technology and facial recognition software to some extent in automated lanes at immigration checkpoints. However, the forthcoming enhancements aim to minimize the necessity for passengers to repeatedly present their travel documents at various touch points, facilitating a more seamless and convenient processing experience.
The new system will utilize biometrics to establish a unified authentication token, which will be used across automated touch points, ranging from luggage drop-offs to immigration clearance and boarding. This innovation will eliminate the requirement for physical travel documents such as boarding passes and passports.
It’s important to note that passports will still be mandatory for countries outside of Singapore that do not offer passport-free clearance, as emphasized by Minister Teo.
Changi Airport, often lauded as the world’s best airport and one of the busiest, connects over 100 airlines to approximately 400 cities across 100 countries and territories worldwide. In June, the airport handled 5.12 million passenger movements, surpassing 5 million for the first time since January 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Changi Airport, with its four terminals, serves as a destination in itself and is poised to expand further with the addition of a fifth terminal to accommodate the rising number of travelers. The airport envisions a return to pre-pandemic levels of passenger and air traffic and anticipates that the forthcoming biometric system will contribute to smoother passenger flows.
Minister Teo affirmed, “Our immigration systems must efficiently handle this substantial and growing volume of travelers, delivering a positive clearance experience while ensuring our security.”
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