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APC in the US of A

Published on  29 July by Paul Houghton , President, Americas, SITA
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Here in the US, it can take up to two hours for passengers to progress through queues at immigration. SITA, in partnership with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), is addressing this pinch point with the introduction of Automated Passport Control (APC).

APC allows passengers to provide their travel documents, biometric data and customs declaration using a self-service kiosk prior to speaking to a CBP officer at the immigration counter. This reduces the processing time from 34 minutes per passenger to 90 seconds or less.

The kiosks process travelers in three simple steps:

  1. Answering a set of regulatory questions at the touch screen
  2. Passport reading and verification
  3. Identity verification using biometrics

At the end of this process, passengers get a receipt to be presented to a CBP officer for final clearance.

Four phases

We are rolling out the APC program in four phases:

  1. US citizens only - from May 2013
  2. Canadian and US citizens - from November 2013
  3. Countries that are part of the US Government's Visa Waiver program - from January 2014
  4. Any traveler of any nationality - TBC

Last November, just in time for our Thanksgiving holiday, 36 Phase 2 APC kiosks were installed at Miami. Their impact was immediate and profound, reducing wait times and making arrivals faster and easier.

Earlier this year, Orlando became the first airport to offer Phase 3 APC kiosks, giving international travelers from 38 visa waiver countries the ability to land, touch and go. The airport has seen a dramatic increase in the number of passengers it processes per minute.

Challenges ahead

Phase 4 will be the most challenging of all. Validating any passenger from anywhere multiplies the biometric and biographical challenges. The economic and tourist benefits will be huge, however. And airports and airlines alike are eager to begin implementation.

SITA's APC kiosks are ready to adhere to the performance targets and standards required. Our kiosks are already capable of advance facial recognition combined with enhanced document validation and authentication.

For now, Miami and Orlando are enjoying the benefits of simpler, easier and faster international processing. Even better, the passenger smiles are worth billions of dollars to their local economies each year.

Read more about SITA's APC program-and our other industry leading border solutions-in Queue-busting at the border, an article in the current issue of the Air Transport IT Review.

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