June 2, 2023

Getty Pictures/Oscar Wong

Singapore will start letting vacationers drive by means of its border checkpoints with a QR code subsequent yr, eradicating the necessity for passports. 

The transfer goals to ease immigration clearance between the nation and its northern neighbour, Malaysia, at two land checkpoints positioned in Tuas and Woodlands. 

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It’s an extension of the Automated Passenger In-Automotive Clearance System (APICS) that Singapore developed to allow vacationers to hold out self-clearance with out having to go away their automobile and with minimal intervention from immigration officers. Reside trials of the automated system had been performed final yr, in response to the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA). 


Picture: ICA

Throughout reside trials on the Woodlands checkpoint between June and October final yr, greater than 400 vehicles and 700 vacationers had been cleared through APICS, with 94% going by means of the immigration course of while not having help from officers. Contactless biometrics, utilizing iris and facial recognition, is used to course of immigration clearance through APICS. 

In early-2024, vacationers driving by means of the checkpoints will be capable to create a profile through ICA’s cellular app and generate both a person or group QR code. Particulars wanted to generate the profile will be pulled from their e-government providers profile, SingPass, or the machine-readable portion of a consumer’s passport. 

When vacationers drive as much as the checkpoint, they may scan the QR code on the counter with out having to current their passports to the immigration officer. Facial-image checks of vacationers within the automobile will then be performed by the officer, utilizing knowledge extracted from the QR code.

This automation ought to facilitate sooner immigration clearance for these travelling in teams, ICA stated. Profiles will also be saved and used for future journeys, if there aren’t any updates to passport particulars. 

ICA can be planning to roll out APICS lanes on the Tuas checkpoint from 2026, which can allow vacationers to scan the QR code generated from the MyICA cellular app and confirm their identification utilizing biometric scanners positioned on the counter. These automated lanes will take away the necessity for immigration officers to be current at each automobile lane, ICA stated, including that it then will be capable to open up extra lanes. 

These APICS lanes will likely be added to the redeveloped Woodlands checkpoint from 2028. 

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The introduction of the know-how is critical as visitors at Singapore’s checkpoints will increase, stated Okay. Shanmugam, Singapore’s Minister for Residence Affairs and Minister for Legislation, throughout his speech on the Workplan Seminar 2023 on Friday. 

Traveler volumes grew from 118 million in 2003 to 217 million in 2019, earlier than the worldwide coronavirus pandemic hit. Right now, ICA processes clearance of greater than 500,000 vacationers on daily basis, in response to Shanmugam, who expects the quantity to extend with the event of the RTS (Fast Transit System) Hyperlink with Malaysia and Changi Airport’s Terminal 5.

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As an open economic system, Singapore should stay related to the world whereas minimising dangers posed by the motion of individuals and items, the minister stated. This connectivity requires processes to be repeatedly improved, he added, pointing to ICA’s purpose to make immigration clearance “seamless, safe, and swift” at checkpoints. 

Automated lanes play a key position right here, with ICA planning to deploy 600 such lanes as a part of the Automated Border Management System by the top of this yr, he famous. These new lanes will change current automated lanes and handbook counters, and use multi-modal biometrics to allow guests to be cleared routinely with out prior enrolment. 

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ICA additionally trialled a proof-of-concept initiative, known as Robotic Escort Safety System (RESS), to interchange the necessity for Auxiliary Police Officers in routine safety duties, similar to escorting vacationers from immigration counters to obligation officers for additional checks. The system is built-in with obstacle-detection sensors to facilitate autonomous navigation round passenger halls and to offer audio cues to remind escorted vacationers to remain shut. 

RESS was trialed on the Tuas checkpoint from August to November 2022, with findings from the assessments used for additional enhancements of future assessments, in response to ICA. 

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