Singapore to introduce passport-free clearance at all checkpoints from 2024

A new contactless system will be introduced at passenger halls, while car passengers can clear immigration via QR code

The Woodlands Checkpoint (left) and Tuas Checkpoint. (FILE PHOTOS: Yahoo News Singapore)
The Woodlands Checkpoint (left) and Tuas Checkpoint. (FILE PHOTOS: Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — Singapore residents and international visitors departing Singapore will be able to clear checkpoints without having to use their passports as soon as next year.

Passengers travelling by car from the Tuas and Woodlands checkpoints will be able to clear immigration through a QR code, while those in the passenger halls can use a new contactless Automated Border Control System (ABCS).

This was revealed during the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) workplan seminar at the Singapore Expo on Friday (5 May). ICA added that the manual counters at all passenger halls at checkpoints will be progressively replaced by about 800 automated lanes using ABCS from the first quarter of 2024.

The ABCS lanes are part of the ICA's New Clearance Concept initiative, which was unveiled in 2019 to provide faster and more secure immigration and customs clearance.

Scanning with QR codes for travellers in cars

Under the Automated Passenger In-Car Clearance System (APICS), those travelling by car can create a profile and generate a QR code via the MyICA mobile app.

This will allow them to scan the code at the manual immigration counters, where ICA officers will conduct facial image checks on the travellers using the QR code data.

"During the APICS trial at Old Woodlands Checkpoint, about 94 per cent of travellers were able to self-clear without officers’ assistance. The majority found the process to be intuitive, and faster compared to manual clearance," ICA said in a media release on Friday.

As the system will enable passengers to clear customs with minimal interference from officers, these officers will be retrained to take on higher-value roles as assessment and investigation officers.

This will include conducting real-time ground observations and identifying suspicious travellers for interviews and checks. The officers will also take over the protective security functions that were previously performed by the police at land checkpoints.

Over 300 ICA officers have already undergone training to acquire skills that will allow them to intervene during security incidents.

ICA's Automated Passenger In-Car Clearance System (Photos: FB/ICA)
ICA's Automated Passenger In-Car Clearance System (Photos: FB/ICA)

Shanmugam outlines the challenges ahead

ICA also celebrated its 20th anniversary during the workplan seminar, with Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam acknowledging that checkpoints are expected to become busier, with the ICA facing more challenges.

"The threat of terrorism remains very real. We never know when the next pandemic may strike. And, there is also a limit to how much manpower we can call on, given that Singapore has an ageing population. And really, the answer to all of these, is further transformation," he said.

As of the end of 2022, all the ICA's core application services, such as birth and death registration and passport renewal, have been made available online under this plan.

The new ICA Services Centre in Kallang is expected to start operations in 2024 and will provide services such as self-collection of identity cards and passports.

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