Changi Airport to introduce biometric verification for departures from Singapore

Instead of passports, travellers will use iris and facial-scanning technology to clear immigration.

Charlotte Chang

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Published: 20 May 2022, 12:59 PM

Travellers departing from Changi Airport will soon use biometric verification instead of passports to clear immigration, said Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean at the 2022 Changi Aviation Summit Fireside Chat on May 17.

Travellers will use iris and facial recognition systems instead, reducing the need for physical identity or travel documents to be presented.

“This will not only enhance the user experience, but also contribute towards the new precautions needed for safe and healthy flying post-pandemic,” said Mr Teo.

He added that they are currently working on biometric verification at various departing checkpoints.

However, this does not mean that travellers can go passport-less when travelling, as passports may still be required to clear immigration at other airports.

Mr Teo also emphasised the importance of cybersecurity to “ensure operational and service resilience”, as well as to protect customers’ data.

He said: “Any system is only as secure as the weakest link. In the context of aviation, the systems of different stakeholders, such as airlines and airports, are often inter-linked.”

“Therefore, cybersecurity in passenger reservation systems, air traffic control, and health and security assurance, must be a collective responsibility.”

Since July 2020, land, sea and air immigration checkpoints have all been equipped with iris and facial-scanning technology, although passports were still required to clear immigration. In the future, the need for passports will be done away with when locals exit the country.

Singapore citizens, Permanent Residents (PRs) and Long Term Pass holders are eligible for automated clearance as they have previously enrolled their iris and facial biometrics at the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), and are encouraged to use automated clearance lanes.

If authentication is unsuccessful or if your iris and facial biometrics have yet to be enrolled with the ICA, fingerprint verification can be used to clear immigration instead.

First-time foreign visitors departing from Singapore will have to use manual counters to clear immigration. On their subsequent trips, they will be able to clear immigration with their iris and facial biometrics at manual counters if they use the same passport.

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