Effortless Travel at Changi Airport: Goodbye to Passports

Effortless Travel at Changi Airport: Goodbye to Passports

Starting in 2024, Singapore Changi Airport will implement automated immigration controls that will allow passengers to leave Singapore without showing their passports. The process will use biometric data to identify passengers.

The change comes after Singapore's parliament passed a series of passed a series of amendments to the Immigration Act on Monday (9/18).

Previously, Changi Airport was already using biometric technology and facial recognition software at some immigration checkpoints. However, the upcoming changes will reduce the need for passengers to present their travel documents multiple times at different touchpoints. Minister for Communications Josephine Teo said the changes will make the travel process smoother and more convenient.

Biometric technology will be used to create a "single authentication token" that will be valid at various automated touchpoints, including bag drop, immigration, and boarding. This will eliminate the need to carry physical documents such as boarding passes and passports.

However, Teo also emphasized that passports will still be required for many countries outside of Singapore that do not have passport-free agreements.

On the other hand, the amendments also improve the handling of emergency situations, including pandemics, strengthen border controls, and simplify the entry clearance process. The amendments also allow for the collection of passenger and crew data at all points of entry, as well as the prohibition of "undesirable persons" from boarding aircraft, with instructions to airlines and other transport operators at the point of departure to Singapore.

Other changes in the amendments include those relating to the status of Deemed Permanent Residents (PRs). Currently, PRs who are overseas without a valid re-entry permit are deemed to have lost their PR status one month after the expiry of the re-entry permit.

Under the new Bill, PRs who are outside Singapore without a valid re-entry permit will be required to apply within a prescribed period, failing which they will lose their PR status immediately. This prescribed period will be set at six months by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Seamless travel has become a global trend, and observers expect this trend to be driven by biometric identification technology. 

Previously, Dubai International Airport introduced "smart gates" in 2018, which use facial recognition and fingerprint alternatives for passenger authentication. Similar technologies have been implemented at airports around the world, including in the United States. 

The use of Digital ID, which complies with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards, allows travelers to use a secure digital version of their passport on mobile devices.

Source: CNN | Channel News Asia

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