Visitors to Singapore can use automated lanes to speed up travel

Changi Airport. (Photo: Lauryn Ishak/Bloomberg)
Changi Airport. (Photo: Lauryn Ishak/Bloomberg)

By Katrina Nicholas

(Bloomberg) — All travellers into Singapore will be able to use automated lanes that scan passports and use facial and iris recognition by the end of year, the city-state’s Immigration & Checkpoints Authority said.

“Singapore may be the first in the world to allow all foreign travellers, including first time visitors, to use automated lanes without prior enrolment upon arrival, and to depart without presenting their passports for immigration clearance,” the authority said in a statement Friday.

The moves should reduce immigration clearance time at Changi Airport, already widely considered one of the most efficient and best in the world, by about 40%, according to the ICA. It may also give Singapore an edge over Hong Kong, another important regional air hub, where the immigration process isn’t as automated.

To facilitate the faster immigration process, around 600 automated gates have now been installed at Changi Airport, the Marina Bay Cruise Centre and at various land checkpoints.

Singapore was one of the first countries in Asia to open up after the pandemic, using vaccinated lanes to permit travel between places in Europe and other parts of the region.

Some 5.73 million people passed through Changi Airport in March, up 23.6% versus March 2023 and 1.7% higher than 2019, before COVID closed borders and all but put a stop to international travel.

That speedier reopening has also been good for Singapore Airlines Ltd. Earlier this week it reported a record annual profit, with continued demand for air travel and a buoyant cargo sector offsetting supply chain challenges, geopolitical tensions and economic uncertainty.

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