Automated immigration clearance for Singaporeans in Bangkok

Singaporeans flying into Bangkok, Thailand, will soon be able to use automated immigration gates to get through the immigration process faster.

Singapore citizens as well as those from Hong Kong will be able to use automatic passport scanners usually reserved for Thai nationals at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang international airports.

The commissioner of the Immigration Bureau, Police Lieutenant-General Nathathorn Prou- soontorn, told Thai newspaper The Nation that the automated clearance reduces the immigration processing time per person from about one minute to about 30 seconds.

This should halve the current waiting time in the immigration queue at airports in Bangkok, which is about half an hour currently. Thai officials added that the new system will be introduced this month or the next.

Travellers who want to opt for the automated immigration process will have to register with the Thai immigration office, so that the authorities can upload their information into the system.

Thai officials added that people from Hong Kong and Singapore were chosen because they travel to Thailand frequently.

Tour agency Dynasty Travel cited Thailand as the second- most popular destination for Singaporeans, behind Malaysia.

The agency estimates that a million people from Singapore go to Thailand each year.

Travellers who want to opt for the automated immigration process will have to register with the Thai immigration office, so that the authorities can upload their information into the system.

"Now there is greater connectivity with a higher frequency of flights," said Ms Alicia Seah, director of public relations and communications at Dynasty Travel.

A spokesman for Changi Airport said there are 216 flights departing from Singapore to Bangkok each week.

"Singaporeans like to visit Thailand for a wide variety of reasons, like praying, shopping, finding good food or just for a short getaway," Ms Seah added. "I believe that extending this scheme to Singaporeans will definitely ease the immigration process for them."

Ms Justine Koh, a marketing communications executive at Chan Brothers Travel, said: "Extending access to the automated clearance lanes for Singaporeans will provide greater convenience, especially for travellers fatigued after their flight, as they no longer need to be held up in long queues in order to clear immigration."

Undergraduate Rennes Lee, 22, is hoping the automated process will be up and running for Singapore travellers when she makes her trip to Bangkok in about three weeks.

She said: "I would not have to spend such a long time stuck at the airport, queueing up at Customs. I go to Bangkok on frequent trips, so it's nice that travelling there will be more convenient now."

Lt-Gen Nathathorn told The Straits Times yesterday that the authorities are considering allowing Singaporeans to use the automated gates at other airports in Thailand in the future.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 02, 2017, with the headline 'Automated immigration clearance for Singaporeans in Bangkok'. Print Edition | Subscribe