Passport Expiring? Better Get it Renewed, Fast!

April 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Procrastinators, beware! The State Department wants you to check your passport expiration and submit it now to avoid the expected flood of renewals of the 10-year document. They’re anticipating a surge in demand because 2006 was the first year the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative went into effect, requiring Americans flying to and from Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean to produce a passport for re-entry into the country.

A biometric US passport

A biometric US passport

There has also been an increase in renewal activity due to the implementation of the Real ID Act, which creates a more stringent set of standards for travelers using driver’s licenses and other identity cards to board a plane.

To clarify, the Department of Homeland Security has set a January 22, 2018 deadline for states to comply with the changes instituted by the Real ID Act. A passport will serve as a viable alternative to either forms of identification for those traveling after the deadline from non-compliant states.

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Dublin Airport Installs Self-Service Biometric Gates

April 8, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’ve ever stood in line at an immigration checkpoint, whether you’re entering another country or returning to your own, you know how long they can take — up to an hour or more, depending on the time of day.

So what if you could pass through an immigration point in seconds or minutes, instead of an hour or more?

Closeup - automated immigration checkpoint

Closeup – automated immigration checkpoint (Photo credit: ttstam)

A pilot test at Ireland’s Dublin Airport (no pun intended) is currently allowing about 1,000 passengers each day to pass through automatic immigration gates. SITA’s iBorders biometric gates use facial recognition to match your face to your passport and verify that you are able to enter the country, taking only about 7.5 seconds to get through. This is much faster than having a human look at you and your passport photo to make a comparison.

The new automated border control gates allow for more efficiency and stronger border control. Human error is ruled out and the system is more secure. While paper passports can be forged, facial recognition cannot unless you go through extensive plastic surgery or happen to be Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible.

This pilot program is testing the suitability of this system on immigration control and security. If the program goes well, the gate system might make it across the globe and you may be seeing it in an airport near you. This system may even save you the headache of long lines going through immigration next time you travel internationally. And there is even the potential of going through border control even faster than going through security, which has never been a possibility before.

Automated Passport Control Installed at Montréal-Trudeau

December 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

If you have flown internationally more than once, you’ve likely found yourself tied up in a frustratingly long customs line upon arriving at your destination. Between having to fill out customs forms and wait while dozens of people in front of you are questioned by customs officials, there is a good chance you will find yourself waiting anywhere from a few minutes to an hour in order to officially enter your destination country. Now, some airports are attempting to fix this issue through the use of a new Automated Passport Control (APC) program.

The APC kiosks – which were developed by the Vancouver Airport Authority and U.S. Customs and Border Protection – were first tested in Vancouver International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport with great success. Designed to help travelers move more quickly through the border clearance process by entering information at a self-service kiosk, the APC can be used by all U.S. and Canadian passport holders.

Passport US

Passport US (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the touch screen self-service kiosk, travelers will be prompted to answer a series of questions. Once finished, a receipt will be issued and travelers will present their passport, travel information and receipt to an officer for verification.

Dylan DeFrancisci, Director of Customers and Border Protection Preclearance Operations, told FutureTravelExperience.com: “Automated Passport Control is a key component of CBP’s modernization strategy at ports of entry. By allowing travelers the option to enter their own passport and identification information at the self-service kiosk, we are able to increase efficiency while enhancing security.”

At O’Hare Airport, the average U.S. Customs wait time during peak hours was reduced by 33% and the number of passengers waiting for more than 60 minutes has dropped by 58% and the number of passengers missing their connecting flights fell by 31%. Thanks to its success, the Automated Passport Control program has been expanded to several more airports throughout North America, including the Montréal-Trudeau Airport.

We’d love to hear your feedback! Do you think these kiosks are a step in the right direction, or do you feel the traditional customs clearance method is best? If you’ve had opportunity to use one of the new Automated Passport Control kiosks, how was the experience? Share with us in the comments section below, or via our Facebook page.