Singapore borders will have automated lanes for immigration

World’s first: Singapore to allow all foreigners to use immigration automated lanes

The Straits Times reported that Singapore will be the first in the world to enable all foreign visitors regardless of their nationality, to clear immigration at air, land and sea checkpoints using automated lanes from the second half of 2024.

Arriving Singapore residents and all departing travellers will be able to undergo contactless immigration clearance without presenting their passports. This is expected to reduce time required for immigration clearance at Changi Airport by about 40% said the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).

There is no need for any registration before arriving in Singapore, further streamlining the arrival process. This creates a smoother and stress-free experience for passengers. The immigration clearance uses iris and facial biometrics as primary identifiers. Fingerprints will be used as a secondary biometric identifier for travellers who are unsuccessful in their iris and facial scans.

Additionally, foreign visitors who have used the automated gates upon arrival can also use the automated lanes at departure immigration when they depart from Changi Airport.

More than 160 automated lanes were installed in 2023, with another 230 lanes to be set up in 2024.

Currently, the automated lanes can be used only by Singapore residents and passport holders from 60 jurisdictions.

Woman uses Singapore's first autogate

Singapore was also the world’s first to introduce Special Assistance Lanes for travellers using wheelchairs and family groups with young children (up to four persons) at selected Departure and Arrival Immigration Halls for automated immigration clearance that was introduced in 2022.

Changi Airport was named the World’s Best Immigration Service by Skytrax in April 2024, following satisfaction surveys with passengers, recognising the airport’s efficiency of immigration services including waiting times, automated systems, as well as courtesy of immigration staff.

Increase in traveller volume

ICA said there was a significant increase in traveller volume in 2023, with almost 193 million people cleared across all checkpoints. This is an 84 per cent increase compared with 2022, when about 105 million travellers were cleared across all checkpoints.

The total number in 2023 is slightly lower than in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic, when more than 217 million travellers were cleared across all checkpoints. However, ICA said the traveller volume at land checkpoints during the school and public holiday periods had exceeded pre-pandemic levels since the reopening of borders in 2022.

It said traffic flow through the two land checkpoints with Malaysia saw nearly 13.6 million travellers cleared, averaging about 440,000 travellers daily, during those periods. Around 400,000 travellers were cleared at the land checkpoints daily before the pandemic.

QR codes have been introduced for scanning in lieu of passport scanning at land checkpoints. Those travelling by car can create a profile and generate a QR code via the MyICA mobile app, allowing them to scan the code at the manual immigration counters. ICA officers will conduct facial image checks on the travellers using the QR code data. The same QR code can be used for future trips if the traveller’s passport details do not need to be updated.

If you are travelling to Singapore, be reminded that all Singapore residents and foreign visitors will need to submit the SG Arrival Card with Electronic Health Declaration online or via the MyICA Mobile application before arriving in Singapore. So, do remember to submit your SG Arrival Card prior to your arrival for a smooth and seamless arrival immigration clearance at Changi Airport.

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