Starting next year, traveling through one of the best airports in the world will become even easier and more enjoyable.
Starting in 2024, Singapore’s Changi Airport plans to introduce automated immigration checks that will allow travelers to leave the city-state without a passport using only biometric data.
“Singapore is one of the first countries in the world to introduce automated checks that do not require the presentation of a passport,” Communications Minister Josephine Teo said last Monday as Parliament passed several changes to Singapore’s immigration laws.
Biometric technology, along with facial recognition software, is already being used in Changi. However, the upcoming changes will reduce the need to repeatedly present your travel documents at security checkpoints and will make the process smoother and more convenient.
Biometrics are used to create unified authentication tools that are used at various automated checkpoints, from baggage drop to boarding. This change eliminates the need for physical travel documents such as boarding passes and passports.
Singapore’s Changi Airport, often described as the best airport in the world and also one of the busiest airports, serves more than 100 airlines flying to 400 cities in one hundred countries around the world.
Changi Airport handled 5.12 million passengers in June this year, surpassing the 5 million mark for the first time since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. “Our immigration systems must be able to effectively manage this large and growing flow of travelers,” the minister said.
Step into the Future?
As more seamless tourism is slowly spreading around the world, experts say biometric identification could soon become a reality in the travel industry.
In 2018, Dubai International Airport introduced biometric Smart Gate tunnels, which use facial recognition to verify passengers’ identities in just five seconds. In this case, fingerprints or facial scanning are also used for authentication.
Similar facial recognition technology is already in use to some extent at international airports in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Delhi, London Heathrow, and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.
Digital IDs, compliant with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards, allow you to travel using a secure digital version of your passport installed on your mobile phone.
In the United States, major airlines such as American Airlines, United, and Delta have been experimenting with biometric check-in, bag drops, and gates at some airports for several years.