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CBP biometrics at Canadian airports expands with Simplified Arrival implementation

Biometric facial comparison also deployed to world’s busiest land border crossing

airport facial recognition masks

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is expanding its face biometrics for air passenger preclearance to eight locations in Canada, with deployments of its Simplified Arrival program.

The enhanced international arrivals process replaces manual identity checks against travel documents with touchless biometric checks against passport photos on file. Passengers going through preclearance checks before boarding international flights to the U.S. will have their identity confirmed by the Simplified Arrival system.

“In collaboration with our Canadian partners, CBP is excited to expand facial biometrics at Preclearance locations in Canada to provide a secure, touchless and streamlined travel experience into the United States while protecting the privacy of all travelers,” states CBP Director of Preclearance Operations Clint Lamm. “Given the ongoing health concerns, the use of touchless biometric technology can also enhance traveler and officer safety and support the travel recovery efforts.”

Biometric technology for the Simplified Arrival program is being deployed at Toronto Pearson International Airport, and will roll out to Vancouver International Airport, Montréal-Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport, and Calgary International Airport this month. Further deployments at Edmonton International Airport, Halifax Stanfield International Airport, Ottawa/Macdonald-Cartier International Airport, and Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport are also planned.

The governments of the U.S. and Canada signed an Agreement on Land, Rail, Marine, and Air Transport Preclearance which was implemented in 2019, and the Simplified Arrival deployment supports the joint efforts outlined in the agreement, according to the announcement.

“CBP’s investment in the Simplified Arrival process is a prime example of technology that will allow travelers to complete the customs journey faster, more securely and with less contact,” comments Deborah Flint, president and CEO, Greater Toronto Airports Authority.

Foreign travelers otherwise required to submit fingerprints on entry to the U.S. will not longer be required to do so if they have visited the country before. In the case of an error during the biometric matching process, travelers will go through the traditional inspection process. U.S. travelers and those exempt from providing biometrics can opt out as they approach the primary inspection point.

Two new land crossings get CBP biometrics

The San Ysidro and Otay Mesa pedestrian border crossings in San Diego, California have also implemented CBP biometric facial comparison. San Ysidro is the busiest land border crossing in the world, with nearly 40 million passengers passing between San Diego and Tijuana in 2019.

Otay Mesa is the fourth largest point of entry to the United States, processing 16 million travelers in 2019.

Simplified Arrival addresses the Congressional mandate to record the entrance and exit of all non-U.S. citizens from the country with biometrics, and provides a touchless and secure border experience, the agency says.

The biometric checks will be performed when travelers arrive at the pedestrian lanes or under I-94 (non-immigrant visa waiver) processing by pausing while a photo is taken.

The process takes only a few second and is 97 percent accurate, according to CBP.

Simplified Arrival had reached 18 airports by the end of 2020, according to a recent DHS report.

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