U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced the implementation of Simplified Arrival at six airports in the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. Rogers Municipal Carter Field Airport, Lakefront Airport, Alexandria (Louisiana) International Airport, Gulfport Biloxi International Airport, Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, and Memphis International Airport.
Simplified Arrival is an enhanced international arrival process that uses facial biometrics to automate the manual document checks that are already required for admission into the United States. Facial biometrics provide travelers with a touchless process that further secures and streamlines international arrivals while fulfilling a longstanding congressional mandate to biometrically record the entry and exit of non-U.S. citizens.
“CBP is excited to partner with these airports to expand the use of facial biometrics for international arrivals,” said Steven Stavinoha, Director, Field Operations – New Orleans Field Office. “This enhanced process is secure, touchless and supports the travel recovery efforts, while protecting the privacy of travelers.”
Simplified Arrival only uses the biometric facial comparison process at a time and place where travelers are already required by law to verify their identity by presenting a travel document. When travelers arrive at one of these six airports on an international flight, they will pause for a photo at the primary inspection point. CBP’s biometric facial comparison process will compare the new photo of the traveler to a small gallery of high-quality images that the traveler has already provided to the government, such as passport and visa photos. In addition, foreign travelers who have traveled to the U.S. previously may no longer need to provide fingerprints as their identity will be confirmed through the touchless facial comparison process.
Simplified Arrival pairs one of the industry’s highest ranked facial comparison algorithms (as assessed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology) with trained CBP officers who are skilled at verifying the authenticity of travel documents. If a traveler cannot be matched to a photo on record using the Simplified Arrival process, the traveler will proceed through the traditional inspection process consistent with existing requirements for entry into the United States.
Travelers who wish to opt out of the new biometric process may notify a CBP officer as they approach the primary inspection point. These travelers will be required to present a valid travel document for inspection by a CBP officer and they will be processed consistent with existing requirements for admission into the United States.
CBP is committed to its privacy obligations and has taken steps to safeguard the privacy of all travelers. CBP has employed strong technical security safeguards and has limited the amount of personally identifiable information used in the facial biometric process. New photos of U.S. citizens will be deleted within 12 hours. Photos of most foreign nationals will be stored in a secure Department of Homeland Security system.
CBP and its air travel partners are expanding the use of facial biometrics through public-private partnerships to not only fulfill the Congressional security mandate, but also to further secure and enhance touchless travel wherever identity verification is required for international travel.
To date, more than 130 million travelers have participated in the biometric facial comparison process at air, land and seaports of entry. Since September 2018, CBP has leveraged facial biometrics to prevent nearly 2,000 imposters from illegally entering the United States by using genuine travel documents that were issued to other people.
More information about CBP’s efforts to secure and streamline travel through facial biometrics is available here.