Hong Kong airport launches self-service departure for visitors

HONG KONG • Visitors leaving Hong Kong International Airport can now opt for self-service departure which uses face recognition technology for identity verification.

The scheme, which started yesterday, is called Smart Departure and, according to Hong Kong's Immigration Department, aims to provide greater travel convenience for foreign visitors along with enhanced immigration control.

Cameras at arrival clearance counters will first take real-time photographs of visitors, which will be compared with the photos in their travel documents, a process that takes about 20 seconds. Visitors will be issued with landing slips that bear the Smart Departure logo.

When leaving Hong Kong, instead of presenting their passports at an immigration desk, visitors can use one of 10 e-channels .

The e-channel camera compares the photograph taken on arrival with the departing visitor and their passport picture, a process said to allow most people to pass through without pausing. An additional level of security comes with the information check on data stored on a passport's electronic chip.

Smart Departure is applicable to visitors aged 11 and above who hold valid electronic travel documents that meet the International Civil Aviation Organisation's requirements. Currently that covers about 70 countries.

The department said Smart Departure will be extended in phases to other control points.

Hong Kong and mainland China residents are not eligible to use the system although frequent travellers from the mainland can register to use the e-channel system. Hongkongers already have departure clearance at e-channels, using their fingerprints.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2017, with the headline 'HK airport launches self-service departure for visitors'. Print Edition | Subscribe