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Changi Airport: Expanding Automated Immigration Clearance

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The Automated Clearance Initiative (ACI) of the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) allows eligible foreign travellers, including those visiting Singapore for the first time, to use automated lanes for immigration clearance without the need for prior enrolment.

Since May 2022, ICA has increased the number of automated lanes at Changi Airport to 130 and the number of land checks to 40. ACI eligibility has been expanded to passport holders from 51 jurisdictions, up from 16 when the ACI originally became available in May 2022. APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) holders can now use ACI’s automated lanes.

Phua Chiew Hua, Deputy Director of Operations Division, Assistant Commissioner of ICA, stated that prior to the ACI, most foreign visitors had to wait in queue at the manual immigration clearance counters upon arrival. Even if this is their first trip to Singapore, travellers who are qualified for the ACI can now go straight to the automated immigration clearance channels.

“This will allow us to onboard more passengers for use of our automated lanes as we move towards automated clearance as the norm,” Phua said, adding that the enrollment process has been made as seamless as possible so that passengers can enrol themselves at the automated lanes while clearing immigration. The officers stationed at the automated routes will assist them if necessary.

More than four million foreign visitors have cleared immigration and been enrolled in the ACI process to date. The ACI directs eligible arriving foreign visitors to the automated immigration clearance channels. Simple enrollment procedures under the ACI are as follows:

  1. Their biometrics (iris, facial, and fingerprint images) are automatically enrolled during the arrival clearance procedure (if they have not been enrolled on a previous voyage to Singapore).
  2. Information regarding their enrollment is included on the electronic visit pass (e-Pass) that is emailed to them following immigration certification.
  3. Enrolled foreign visitors will then be permitted to use any automated lane upon departure from Singapore and on subsequent visits.

ACI is a key part of the ICA’s New Clearance Concept (NCC), which aims to make automated immigration clearance the rule at checkpoints. Automated immigration lines use multi-modal biometric scanning technology to make the immigration clearance process safer, faster, and easier for travellers. ICA thinks that by the first quarter of 2024, 95% of all passengers at Changi Airport will go through the automated lanes.

Since automated lanes take up less space and need less staff than manual counters, ICA would be able to clear more people faster and keep up with the growing number of travellers, which is projected to reach 300 million per year by 2025.

As ICA moves away from manual screening, the jobs of ICA officers will also change and become more important. As part of the NCC training, ICA officers are learning how to do more than just work at the immigration counter. They are learning how to do things like profile, rate, and investigate.

Automated lanes make it easier for immigration officials to handle and keep track of the flow of travellers while lowering the risk of mistakes and fraud caused by people. Automated lanes can also help handle the growing number of travellers at checkpoints and improve operational efficiency by reducing the need for manual counters and speeding up the clearance process.

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