Ports in US and Hong Kong add contactless ‘self-service immigration’ channels using facial recognition

ACCURATE: Cruise ship passengers can verify their ID via face recognition at the US port of New Orleans

Passengers disembarking from international cruise ships at the US port of New Orleans in Louisiana can now verify their identity on entry to the country using biometric face recognition technology rather than by presenting physical documents to immigration officers.

The rollout comes as Hong Kong also expands its face recognition “non-touch e-channel” service for residents re-entering the territory to entry control points at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal.

New Orleans

The New Orleans service has been introduced by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Carnival Cruise Line and uses facial biometric technology that “verifies the traveller’s identity within two seconds and is more than 98% accurate,” CBP says.

“When debarking the cruise vessel at a US seaport, passengers will pause for a photo that will be compared to the traveller’s existing passport or visa photo in secure DHS [Department of Homeland Security] systems to verify their identity.

“Upon an efficient match, passengers collect their baggage, proceed through inspections and exit the terminal.

“US travellers 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.”

CBP is already using the biometric facial comparison technology at major air and land entry points to the US as well as at 12 sea ports in Florida, New Jersey, Texas, California and Washington.

“Currently, more than 119m travellers have participated in the biometric facial comparison process at air, land and sea ports of entry,” CBP adds.

“Since September 2018, CBP has leveraged facial biometrics to prevent more than 1,100 imposters using genuine travel documents from illegally entering the United States.” 

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, the Immigration Department has now rolled out the face recognition entry service it originally introduced at Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and Shenzhen Bay to the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal.

Hong Kong residents can opt to register for the service via a dedicated “non-touch e-channel” app, at the “self-service immigration” channel itself using their smart ID card or at an e-channel registration office.

Once registered, residents can then gain access to the non-touch e-channel with their smart ID card or by scanning a QR code generated within the non-touch e-channel app on their smartphone.

“After entering the e-channel, the user must stand at the marked position and look into the camera. After successfully verifying their appearance, they can leave the e-channel,” the Hong Kong Immigration Department says.

It is also now planning to extend the contactless biometric service to other entry control points in Hong Kong. 

Ports in US and Hong Kong add contactless ‘self-service immigration’ channels using facial recognition was written by Tom Phillips and published by NFCW.