Singapore will soon be shifting to advanced digital technology for the convenience of air travelers in the country. From 2024, Singapore residents and international visitors departing Singapore will be able to clear checkpoints without having to use their passports. Passengers driving through the Tuas and Woodlands checkpoints will be able to clear immigration using a QR code, while those in the passenger halls will be able to use a new contactless Automated Border Control System (ABCS).
This was unveiled on Friday at the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) work plan briefing at the Singapore Expo. The manual counters at all passenger halls at checkpoints will be gradually replaced by around 800 automated lanes employing ABCS beginning in the first quarter of 2024, according to ICA. The ABCS lanes are part of the International Civil Aviation Organization's New Processing Concept initiative, which was launched in 2019 to provide faster and more secure immigration and customs processing.
Those traveling by automobile can use the MyICA mobile app to build a profile and generate a QR code under the Automated Passenger In-automobile Clearance System (APICS). This will allow them to scan the code at the manual immigration booths, where ICA agents will use the QR code data to undertake facial image checks on the travelers.
Because the system would allow passengers to through customs with minimum assistance from authorities, these officers will be retrained to take on more valuable responsibilities as assessment and investigation officers. This will include conducting on-the-ground observations in real time and identifying questionable travelers for interviews and checks. The policemen will also take over the protective security responsibilities that the police traditionally undertook at land checks.
In a press release, ICA stated: "During the APICS trial at Old Woodlands Checkpoint, about 94 percent of travelers were able to self-clear without officers' assistance. The majority found the process to be intuitive, and faster compared to manual clearance."