News | EN

Biometric verification for tourists departing from Changi will be introduced this year

Travelers departing from Changi Airport will no longer have to show their passport or boarding pass when going through immigration control: an initiative to use biometric data for verification will be introduced this year.

This will not only increase convenience of use, but will also promote the new precautions needed for safe flights after the pandemic, Senior Minister Teo Chee-Hin said Tuesday (May 17) during a closed-door dialogue at the Changi Aviation Summit.

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) earlier said that in the future, Singaporeans departing or arriving in Changi will be able to go through immigration control without having to show a passport. Instead, their identity will be verified using iris and facial biometrics as they pass through the checkpoints.

Earlier this month, the ICA also said that foreign travelers who register their facial and iris biometrics during their first visit to Singapore will be able to undergo automated immigration screening on subsequent trips starting in the second half of this year. This is in line with the agency's goals of making automated clearance the norm for all travelers from 2023.

Mr. Teo, who is also ministerial coordinator for national security, said Tuesday that the aviation sector must seize the chance to improve service and change the way it treats customers, and that technology and digitalization are key, he added.

Another priority is aviation safety, as the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have led to old and new risks, particularly in aircraft maintenance and maintaining the skills of air traffic controllers and pilots, Mr. Teo said.

For its part, Singapore last month published its first National Aviation Safety Plan, which outlines 50 measures that Singapore's aviation industry will take over the next three years. Other countries, such as India, France and Australia, have issued similar plans.

The aviation sector must strive for ambitious, long-term and forward-looking goals, he added. That means looking at the entire aviation chain, from more efficient planes, flights and ground operations to cleaner fuels and cleaner financing.

"We can transform the industry for a more viable and sustainable future. Our customers, our shareholders and financial institutions will demand it, whether we want it or not."