Foreign travellers with biometrics registered in S'pore can get automated immigration clearance

The initiative by ICA is in line with its goals to make automated clearance a norm for all travellers from 2023. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - From the second half of this year, foreign travellers who have enrolled their facial and iris biometrics on their first visit to Singapore will be able to get automated immigration clearance on subsequent trips here, said the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority on Friday (May 6).

Currently, they have to seek immigration clearance at a manual counter each time they enter the country.

The initiative, which was announced by ICA during its annual workplan seminar, is in line with its goals to make automated clearance a norm for all travellers from 2023.

The agency said previously that Singapore residents - whether leaving or arriving - will be able to clear immigration without needing to present their passports in future.

Their identities will instead be verified using iris and facial biometrics as they walk through clearance gates.

Speaking at the seminar, Minister of State for Home Affairs Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said ICA will set up special assistance lanes at Changi Airport by the end of this year.

These lanes, which are wider than conventional ones, will allow travellers with disabilities, as well as big family groups, to clear immigration more easily.

The lanes will be extended to other checkpoints from late 2023.

Associate Professor Faishal added that ICA is working towards consolidating all back-end systems into a single processing system, freeing the public from having to "approach different ICA services centres and submit the same information for different products and services".

With the digitalisation of its processes, ICA said its officers can take on more complex, non-routine tasks.

At the checkpoints, for example, officers will undergo training in specialised areas, such as profiling and interviewing skills, to aid them in identifying suspicious travellers.

More than 5,000 officers will be trained by the end of 2023 to take on new roles, said ICA.

The agency added that it helped reunite more than 1,300 families that were separated during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It did so by ferrying travellers in need of assistance, such as the elderly, pregnant women and unaccompanied minors, across the Singapore-Malaysia land borders from April 2020 to March this year.

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