18th September 2023 – (Singapore) Singapore’s Changi Airport is set to introduce automated immigration clearance using biometric data for departing passengers starting from the first half of 2024. This development follows a series of amendments to the Immigration Act, which were passed by Singapore’s parliament on Monday.
One significant provision in the amendments allows the Minister for Home Affairs to authorise the disclosure of passenger and crew information to the airport operator for specific purposes such as bag drops and passenger tracing within the airport.
The implementation of end-to-end biometric clearance means that passengers will no longer be required to present their passports, tickets, and boarding passes multiple times during the boarding process. Instead, biometric data will be used to create a unique identifier that passengers can utilise at various automated touchpoints, as explained by Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo on Monday.
The Bill also encompasses changes aimed at addressing exigencies like pandemics, strengthening border controls, and streamlining the administration of passes and permits for foreigners and permanent residents (PRs).
One significant change empowers authorities to collect advance passenger and crew information across all modes of entry. Additionally, they will have the authority to issue no-boarding directives to airlines and other transport operators, denying boarding to “undesirable persons” at the point of departure for Singapore.
Another notable amendment clarifies the circumstances under which a PR is considered to have lost their status. Currently, a PR traveling overseas without a valid re-entry permit is deemed to have lost their PR status, with a grace period of one month after the permit’s expiration to apply for reinstatement.
Under the new Bill, PRs residing outside Singapore without a valid re-entry permit will be required to apply for one within a specified period. Failure to do so will result in the immediate loss of their PR status. The Ministry of Home Affairs plans to set this prescribed period at six months.