Singapore to Install 230 Automated Lanes to Streamline Foreigner Immigration With Multi-modal Biometrics

February 15, 2024

By the second half of 2024, all international travelers to Singapore will have the opportunity to utilize automated lanes to pass immigration clearance at air, sea, and land checkpoints, says the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).

On February 13th, ICA in its 2023, Annual Statistics Report, revealed the plans to enhance immigration clearance procedures by introducing an innovative border control system. As a part of ICA’s New Clearance concept, the automated lanes aim to ensure seamless immigration clearance for all passengers by employing multi-modal biometrics such as iris, fingerprint, and facial scans.

The automated lanes will enable visitors to complete immigration clearance without the requirement of presenting passports beforehand and after departure.

Over 160 automated lanes were put in place in 2023, while 230 lanes are scheduled to be installed in 2024, the source says.

As of now, Singapore residents and passport holders from 60 jurisdictions are exclusively accessible to the automated lanes.

The automated lanes will gradually replace the current lanes and traditional counters at checkpoints, allowing Singapore residents and departing visitors to go through immigration clearance without needing to present physical passports.

Also read: Singapore Implements Artificial Intelligence in Financial Institutions to Curb Money Laundering

What Triggered the Implementation of Automated Lanes?

The year 2023 saw a surge in incidents involving contraband, counterfeit travel documents, and immigration violations, as ICA reported. The number of contraband cases increased from 35,000 in 2022 to 43,000 in 2023, marking a 23% rise.

The incidents of forged and tempered travel documents witnessed a three-fold rise, climbing from 21 in 2022 to 65 in 2023. An increase of 42% was observed in immigration offenses, rising from 414 in 2022 to 587 in 2023, in the meantime, 542 offenders were apprehended in 2023.

Arrests for harboring and employing immigration offenders escalated from 226 in 2022 to 327 in 2023. Other offenses like multiple identity cases and marriage of convenience observed a decrease in the numbers.

The other reason that could have sparked the implementation of automated lanes may be the increase in the number of visitors throughout Singapore. ICA reported that nearly 193 million passengers cleared all checkpoints, an 84% increase compared to 105 million travelers in 2022.

Over the past few years, ICA has installed an extra 90 automated lanes at bus terminals located in Woodlands and Tuas. Presently, automated clearance is the standard method for bus passengers.

Countries around the globe are taking initiatives to introduce biometrics in multiple systems to substitute traditional procedures with streamlined and efficient biometric recognition systems.

Also read: UK Border Force Looks into Biometrics to Replace Passports with E-gate System