U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), in partnership with Carnival Cruise Line, expanded the use of facial biometrics into the debarkation process at the Port of Mobile, AL, becoming the latest seaport to modernize efforts to revolutionize cruise travel.
“As we prepare for the increase in cruise travel around our nation’s ports, CBP is working closely with the cruise industry to make travel safer and more efficient, while also supporting travel recovery efforts,” said Steven Stavinoha, Director, Field Operations for CBP’s Gulf Coast Field Office. “The biometric facial comparison process adds an extra layer of security and streamlines travel into the United States by replacing the manual inspection of travel documents with a secure, touchless process.”
When debarking the cruise vessel at a U.S. seaport, passengers will pause for a photo that will be compared to the traveler’s existing passport or visa photo in secure DHS systems to biometrically verify their identity. Upon an efficient match, passengers are allowed to proceed through inspections and exit the terminal. This innovative entry process further secures and enhances the customer experience while protecting the privacy of all travelers. The enhanced arrival process using facial biometrics verifies the traveler’s identity within two seconds and is more than 98% accurate.
U.S. travelers and select foreign nationals who are not required to provide biometrics and wish to opt out of the new biometric process can simply request a manual document check from a CBP Officer consistent with existing requirements for admission into the United States.
Already in use at major air and land ports of entry, facial biometrics in the cruise environment will strengthen CBP’s enforcement capabilities at several of the nation’s cruise ports while also enhancing the customer experience. Additionally, CBP and its cruise partners have expanded data sharing agreements to further strengthen security in cruise travel.
To date, facial biometric comparison technology is available at 13 seaports across the United States and has been successfully used to process arriving passengers on cruise vessels in Florida, New Jersey, Texas, California, Washington, Louisiana, and now Alabama.
Currently, more than 146 million travelers have participated in the biometric facial comparison process at air, land, and sea ports of entry. Since September 2018, CBP has leveraged facial biometrics to prevent more than 1,300 impostors using genuine travel documents from illegally entering the United States at air and land Ports of Entry. More information on CBP’s use of biometric facial comparison technology to secure and streamline the arrival and departure process can be found here.