Biometric entry and exit screening in the U.S.—the development of which was tasked to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) by the Department of Homeland Security in 2013—is making strides toward becoming a system-wide reality.
On Thursday, Orlando International Airport (MCO) became the first in the nation to fully implement a biometric entry and exit system. This tremendous development was made possible through CBP’s tireless efforts to increase security technology across America’s international arrival and departure points, and is currently being pilot-tested at 13 other major airports in the U.S.
A challenge that CBP faces in its efforts to prevent and respond to security threats is the use of false identity documents. Additionally, as modern passports have become more technologically advanced (i.e., more difficult to copy), individuals wishing to conceal their identities from CBP are using legitimate passports issued to other persons. The use of biometrics helps to reduce the risk of deception by verifying that an individual presenting travel and identification documents is exactly who they are claiming to be.
“Right now, a lot of our criminal-justice system is based on the biographic, and now we are adding in the biometric, which is quite helpful in determining who should and should not enter the country,” Colleen Manaher, a CBP director overseeing biometric implementation, told the Orlando Sentinel in April.
While it is evident that biometric entry-exit systems play a crucial role in improving our national security, biometrics also have a tremendous impact on the traveler experience. One of the biggest factors that deters travelers from flying is the prospect of long lines and wait times. Biometric entry-exit systems help to minimize the burden on existing processes and systems, allowing travelers to clear boarding checkpoints with greater ease and speed.
U.S. Travel has been working on making biometric entry-exit systems a reality for several years, and commends CBP for its commitment to improving our airport technology, strengthening our national security and enhancing the traveler experience.