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ICA to maintain dedicated lanes for Singaporeans and permanent residents

Minister of State for Home Affairs Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim announced continued access for locals to exclusive lanes even as all foreign visitors are granted access to automated immigration clearance later this year



SINGAPORE: Singaporeans and permanent residents will still have access to dedicated lanes for immigration clearance, even as all foreign visitors are granted access to automated immigration clearance later this year, said Minister of State for Home Affairs Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim announced in parliament on Monday (26 Feb).

Assoc Prof Faishal said in response to a question by MP Darryl David (PAP-Ang Mo Kio) that the proportion of these dedicated lanes will be adjusted based on operational needs and the traveller profile, in response.

On 13 February, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) unveiled this plan as part of its 2023 annual statistics.

All international travellers arriving in Singapore, regardless of their citizenship, may have the opportunity to go through immigration clearance seamlessly at air, land, and sea checkpoints using automated lanes from the latter half of 2024.

Singapore will be the first globally to implement this facilitation of seamless immigration processes.

No pre-registration necessary with next-generation Automated Border Control System (ABCS)

The upcoming next-generation Automated Border Control System (ABCS) will eliminate the necessity for foreign travelers to undergo pre-registration.

Moreover, upon departure from Singapore, presenting passports will no longer be obligatory.

Expansion of automated lanes

The ICA disclosed plans to progressively install these automated lanes, with over 160 lanes operational in 2023 and an additional 230 slated for deployment in 2024.

These automated lanes, a cornerstone of the ICA’s New Clearance Concept, leverage multi-modal biometrics capturing iris, facial, and fingerprint data, ensuring swift and secure immigration clearance.

Presently, automated lanes are exclusively accessible to Singapore residents and passport holders from 60 jurisdictions.

However, the forthcoming system overhaul will extend this privilege to all international visitors.

In response to Mr David’s question about measures for Singaporeans, especially families with young children, who cannot use automated lanes, Assoc Prof Faishal mentioned that selected passenger halls in Changi Airport have automated lanes for family groups and wheelchair users.

First country to introduce automated lane for multiple travelers

In late 2022, Singapore became the first country in the world to introduce an automated lane for multiple travellers to perform self-immigration clearance as a group, with the installation of these Special Assistance Lanes at Changi Airport’s Terminal 2.

“This is something we want to make sure that when they go out of Singapore, they come back to Singapore, they feel not only happy when they land at Changi Airport or pass by our checkpoints, but they have the ease of entry.”

“We’ll continue to look at how we can really enhance the travelling journey process of our Singaporeans,” said Assoc Prof Faishal.

ICA also announced this month that its next-generation Automated Border Control System (ABCS) will be introduced this year, gradually replacing existing automated lanes and manual counters at all checkpoints.

Approximately 800 ABCS lanes will be installed at Singapore’s air and land checkpoints, with the phased replacement of manual counters starting in the first quarter of this year.

This advancement means that Singapore residents and departing visitors will no longer need to present their passports.

ICA Reports 84% surge in travelers for 2023

In 2023, ICA reported an impressive 84% increase in the number of travelers, marking a significant milestone as the world moved closer to pre-pandemic levels.

Throughout the year, nearly 193 million travellers were processed across all checkpoints, showcasing a notable resurgence in travel activity.

Particularly noteworthy was the surge in traffic at the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints during peak times, surpassing pre-pandemic levels with an average of about 440,000 travellers daily.

However, this surge in travel was met with heightened vigilance against illicit activities such as contraband smuggling, forged travel documents, and immigration violations.

Instances of contraband increased by 23%, and cases of forged and tampered travel documents tripled during the year.

Furthermore, there was a 42% rise in the number of immigration offenders apprehended, underscoring the importance of robust border security measures in response to the uptick in travel.

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Please maintain separate automatic lanes for Singaporeans at all borders as there are just too many PRS and the queues are too long at Woodlands Checkpoint. During the Chinese New Year, the escalators were turned off and people had to carry their baggage up the stairs. The elevators were filled to the brim. Coming out after the third world experience, axillary police once again forced people to walk down the stairs cutting off excess to both escalator and elevator . The queues were numerous snake formation with poor ventilation. Denpasar is a lot better. PAP MPs, are totally unaware of… Read more »