Singapore tightens security, makes thumbprint scanning mandatory at major land checkpoints

Singapore is introducing thumbprint scanning for car travellers at its major land checkpoints, Tuas and Woodlands, in a bid to tighten security and keep immigrants' information on record.

Woodlands Checkpoint extension to be built at Old Woodlands Town Centre
Vehicles travel along the causeway between Singapore and Malaysia (top) at the Woodlands Checkpoint in Singapore. Reuters

Singapore has planned to extend thumbprint scanning for car travellers passing through the Tuas and Woodlands checkpoints, said the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ISA) on Monday, September 25, via a media release. The scanning will be made compulsory for travellers of ages six years and above.

Launched for the first time in April 2016, thumbprint scanning is currently in effect at all major clearance zones for trains, buses, trucks, and goods vehicles. The ICA plans to carry out BioScreen clearance for car travellers as well, wherein every person in the car has to step out and scan both their thumbs while immigrating to Singapore.

The procedure will be implemented gradually so that travellers get ample time to get accustomed to the new process.

The ICA has stated that security is their topmost priority. A thorough verification of their visitors will ensure that unwanted threats do not get a chance to enter the country.

"Security at our checkpoints is ICA's top priority. The BioScreen system is an important measure in this regard, as it enables ICA's verification of travellers' identities to be more robust," read the media release on the ICA website.

Biometric verifications also reveal a person's medical history. This might prove effective in stopping the spread of diseases in Singapore - a step crucial during a time when several infections are breaking out in Southeast Asia, like dengue, malaria, Zica virus, typhus, Japanese encephalitis, Chikungunya fever, etc.

The implementation of biometric scanners at car terminals is expected to slow down the immigration clearance procedure. However, ICA ensures complete co-operation and help from their officers in making the process smooth and as quick as possible. They plan to closely monitor the process and its glitches, and adjust their methods accordingly.