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Singapore aims for passport-free departures from Changi Airport next year

Travellers in front of a flight information panel at Changi Airport in Singapore, on Wednesday, March 30, 2022.  (Photo: Ore Huiying/Bloomberg)
Travellers in front of a flight information panel at Changi Airport in Singapore, on Wednesday, March 30, 2022. (Photo: Ore Huiying/Bloomberg)

By Harry Suhartono

(Bloomberg) — Some passengers will soon be able to depart from Singapore’s Changi Airport without a passport, as part of changes to the city-state’s immigration law that allows for end-to-end biometric clearance.

From the first half of 2024, biometrics will be used for authentication at various automated steps in the departure process, from bag-drop to immigration and boarding, communications minister Josephine Teo said in parliament Monday.

“This will reduce the need for passengers to repeatedly present their travel documents at these touchpoints, allowing for more seamless and convenient processing,” Teo said.

The changes come as the number of travellers to the financial hub is expected to rebound to pre-pandemic levels by next year, and continue to increase thereafter. Singapore is currently building its fifth airport terminal, while its high-speed rail linkage with Malaysia’s southern state of Johor is expected to be ready in a few years.

“Our immigration systems must be able to manage this high and growing volume of travellers efficiently and provide a positive clearance experience, while ensuring our security,” Teo said.

Ranked the best airport in the world, Changi handled 5.12 million passengers in June, crossing the five million mark for the first time since January 2020 when the pandemic hit. The figure, amounting to 88% of passenger traffic in June 2019, shows the city-state is well on its way to renewing international ties.

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.