SAN FRANCISCO — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced today the implementation of Simplified Arrival at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC).
Simplified Arrival is an enhanced international arrival process that uses facial biometrics to automate the manual document checks that are already required for admission into the United States. This process provides travelers with a touchless process that further secures and streamlines international arrivals while fulfilling a longstanding congressional mandate to biometrically record the entry and exit of non-U.S. citizens.
“Simplified Arrival is a modern, efficient and intuitive process that delivers a seamless experience for travelers arriving in the United States,” said Diane Sabatino, CBP Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Field Operations. “CBP is using an accurate, reliable technology to enhance security and facilitate lawful travel while protecting travelers’ privacy.”
Simplified Arrival only uses the biometric facial comparison process at a time and place where travelers are already required by law to verify their identity by presenting a travel document. When travelers arrive at SFO or SJC on an international flight, they will pause for a photo at the primary inspection point. CBP’s biometric facial comparison process will compare the new photo of the traveler to a small gallery of high-quality images that the traveler has already provided to the government, such as passport and visa photos. In addition, foreign travelers who have traveled to the U.S. previously will no longer need to provide fingerprints as their identity will be confirmed through the touchless facial comparison process.
Simplified Arrival pairs one of the industry’s highest ranked facial comparison algorithms (as assessed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology) with trained CBP officers who are skilled at verifying the authenticity of travel documents. If a traveler cannot be matched to a photo on record using the Simplified Arrival process, the traveler will proceed through the traditional inspection process consistent with existing requirements for entry into the United States.
Travelers who wish to opt out of the new biometric process may notify a CBP officer as they approach the primary inspection point. These travelers will be required to present a valid travel document for inspection by a CBP officer and they will be processed consistent with existing requirements for admission into the United States.
CBP is committed to its privacy obligations and has taken steps to safeguard the privacy of all travelers. CBP has employed strong technical security safeguards and has limited the amount of personally identifiable information used in the facial biometric process. New photos of U.S. citizens will be deleted within 12 hours. Photos of most foreign nationals will be stored in a secure Department of Homeland Security system.
CBP and its air travel partners are expanding the use of facial biometrics through public-private partnerships to not only fulfill the Congressional security mandate, but also to further secure and enhance touchless travel wherever identity verification is required for international travel. At SFO and SJC, the Simplified Arrival process complements facial biometric boarding to further secure and enhance the customer experience.
To date, more than 53 million travelers have participated in the biometric facial comparison process at air, land and sea ports of entry. Since September 2018, CBP has leveraged facial biometrics to prevent nearly 300 imposters from illegally entering the United States by using genuine travel documents that were issued to other people.
“By using one of the best performing facial comparison algorithms available today, CBP is able to more efficiently identify and stop bad actors while streamlining travel for everyone else” said Sabatino. “CBP’s facial comparison algorithm shows virtually no measurable differential performance in results based on demographic factors. We continue to partner with the National Institute of Standards and Technology to further enhance the Simplified Arrival process.”
More information about CBP’s efforts to secure and streamline travel through facial biometrics can be found here.