One of the many reasons why many Singapore is a popular immigration hotspot and immigration agencies like ours are in hot demand is because Singapore constantly improves and seeks to improve as a nation.
It was just recently announced that all of Singapore’s immigration gates and processing time at checkpoints and the airport terminals are expected to get a lot more high tech and cool in just a few years from now.
In just a few years from now, all immigration checkpoints are expected to be contactless for locals – meaning Singaporean citizens and Singapore permanent residents. This means you need not even take your passport out from your bag or wallet to cross the gates. The machine will scan your face and iris to verify your identity and you will then be able to pass through successfully once verified. Sounds kind of like a James Bond movie to you? Because it sure does to us!
It is also supposedly more secure in terms of verification – an iris scan is able to access almost 250 feature points while a fingerprint only has approximately 100.
Of course, you would be advised not to wear any headgear which may be blocking your face or iris.
ICA estimates that approximately 70% of citizens and PR aged six or older already have this available for them. If you have young children below six, they can only be eligible for this contactless method after the age of six, as their features change rapidly below those ages.
Although this technology is not exactly groundbreaking, it has only recently been rolled out on a small scale in Singapore, at Changi Airport Terminal 4 late in 2019. While plans to roll this out to all checkpoints has been underway since some time ago, it was expedited partly due to the COVID situation as well, though thankfully our nation has been recovering relatively quickly from it. Not only is this contactless technology to be able to be used at immigrations checkpoints going to save time, hassles and manpower, it is also going to be more hygienic.
Currently, the best that we have is biometrics passport for citizens and Singapore PR, though that still requires fingerprint verification. This can be a problem if thumb had a bad burn or a big cut. Additionally, it is also less hygienic – considering how many people would touch that fingerprint verification touch panel on a daily basis.
This passport-free concept at checkpoints will be implemented in a progressive manner from 2022 to 2024.
DSP Tiang had also added that nothing much had been changed to the plans to do this in the first place – it is just expedited due to the COVID pandemic. This is partly because human traffic is significantly lower than normal at Singapore Changi Airport right now, and executing this plan would be easier due to less need to account for keeping the crowd and lines smooth going still.
What if you are a local but have not yet enrolled your iris and facial biometrics by then? No worries – there is a backup fingerprint method still.