Singapore lays out plans for passport-free contactless biometric in-car border checks

Singapore passport-free contactless biometric self-help kiosk
VERIFICATION: Travellers enter the country at the APICS checkpoint by scanning a QR code on their mobile device and verifying their ID using biometrics without presenting their passport or leaving their car

Singapore’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) is to implement an upgraded version of the contactless biometric automated in-car clearance system (APICS) that it began testing using a passport-based solution in July 2022.

The enhanced system will allow travellers arriving from Malaysia by car to enter the country by scanning a QR code on their mobile device and verifying their identity using face recognition technology without needing to present their passport or leave their vehicle.

To use the service, travellers will first need to create a profile in the MyICA app on their mobile device and generate a QR code for an individual or a group of people by uploading data from their passport or Singpass digital ID before travel.

The ICA revealed its plans to implement the QR code-based passport-free system in three phases beginning “in early 2024” at its annual workplan seminar.

In phase one, the authority “will introduce QR code scanning in lieu of passport scanning for immigration clearance at manual car counters”.

“On arrival at the checkpoint, [travellers] self-scan the QR code at the car counter, and do not need to present their passports to the immigration officer. The officer then conducts facial image checks of the travellers, using the data retrieved through the QR code,” the ICA explains.

“This will allow group clearances to be completed much more quickly, and reduce the overall time taken to clear immigration. Furthermore, the created profile can be saved for future trips; the travellers need not key in the details again. Family members travelling together, for example, will not need to re-generate the information for subsequent trips, unless there are updates to their passport details.”

“From 2026 onwards, APICS lanes will be introduced at Tuas Checkpoint. Travellers will self-scan the QR code generated from the MyICA mobile app, and present their biometrics for identity verification, via APICS’ contactless biometric scanners. This will remove the need to station an officer at every car lane, allowing us to open more lanes,” the ICA adds.

“From 2028 onwards, we will introduce APICS lanes at the redeveloped Woodlands Checkpoint.”

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