South African airports to get new time-saving biometric system

On March 14, 2019 / by Sherone Lewis / Leave a comment

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The Department of Home Affairs says it will pilot new e-gates at a number of South African airports in 2019. A joint venture between the Airports Company South Africa and Department of Home Affairs will be implemented in March that will make use of a biometric system that scans passengers’ fingerprints to verify their identity.

The automatic control system will go live at Cape Town International Airport first, and will be executed at OR Tambo International and King Shaka International Airport at a later stage.

The broad objective of the project is the facilitation of movement of low-risk travellers through a self-service solution, hence freeing capacity for the assessment of high-risk categories by an immigration officer. In line with the risk-based approach to managing migration, the first phase will focus on South African passport holders (excluding minors). The gates are being developed in terms of the Home Affairs White Paper on International Migration, as well as international civil aviation legislation.

Expected benefits of the project include:

  • Reduced processing time at Immigration for low-risk travellers
  • Increased capacity to focus on higher-risk categories
  • Managing boarding time
  • Improved customer satisfaction

The system will allow passengers to scan their own passports at the electric gates, instead of waiting for passports to be checked by an immigration officer. The Department of Home Affairs will develop a programme for international travellers called the Trusted Traveller, that will involve ACSA and international government agencies, to ensure smooth immigration processes.

For the e-gates pilot at Cape Town International Airport, South African passport holders travelling internationally will proceed to e-gates for self-service immigration clearance where the following would be performed:

  • Biometric verification
  • Passport authenticity and validity checks
  • Checks against the BMCS risk engine
  • The BMCS will record the movements of persons on the system after all system checks have been successfully performed

Home Affairs said that the e-gates project will help address the key issue of traveller identification management in South Africa, which is at the heart of secure and facilitated travel.

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