Starting in 2024, passengers departing from Singapore’s Changi Airport, consistently ranked among the world’s best, will be able to navigate immigration clearance without the need for physical passports, thanks to the introduction of automated biometric technology.
Changi Airport had already incorporated biometric technology and facial recognition software in its automated lanes at immigration checkpoints, but the upcoming enhancements will significantly reduce the need for passengers to repeatedly present their travel documents. This will be employed at various automated touch points throughout the airport, ranging from baggage drops to immigration clearance and boarding, eliminating the necessity for traditional physical travel documents such as boarding passes and passports within the airport’s premises.
Communications Minister, Josephine Teo, emphasized that while Changi Airport pioneers this passport-free initiative, passports will still be mandatory for traveling to countries outside Singapore that do not offer passport-free clearance, ensuring travelers remain compliant with international travel regulations.
Famous for its world-class facilities and services, Changi Airport serves more than 100 airlines connecting to 400 cities in approximately 100 countries and territories across the globe. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the airport recently recorded a significant milestone by handling 5.12 million passenger movements in June, surpassing the 5 million mark for the first time since January 2020.
Furthermore, local authorities are currently planning to add a fifth terminal to cater to the growing number of travelers, which is why – according to USA Today – the introduction of the biometric system is seen as a vital step in managing and controlling passenger flow, as the airport anticipates a return to pre-pandemic levels in passenger and air traffic.
Internationally, similar biometric initiatives have been implemented at airports like Dubai International Airport with its “Smart Gate” tunnels, Hong Kong International Airport, Tokyo Narita, Tokyo Haneda, Indira Gandhi International (Delhi), London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle.