Orlando becomes first US airport with automated border control technology for visa waiver countries

Orlando International Airport is the first US airport to take advantage of automated border control technology for incoming travelers from visa waiver countries.

Travelers from these countries will benefit from this new technology rollout, which comes in the form of SITA’s Automated Passport Control kiosks. The airport is promoting it as “land, touch and go,” emphasizing the reduction of friction for international arrivals.

Passengers arriving from the 37 visa waiver countries will be processed via the APC kiosks, ideally leading to shorter, faster moving lines as there will be more touchpoints for immigration processing than in the traditional solo border agent scenario.

Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 9.22.12 AM

At the biometric kiosks, passengers can be photographed and fingerprinted, while also submitting the required customs declaration forms and having their passports scanned. Passengers are not able to pre-register to use the kiosk; however, they must have entered the United States previously and have their fingerprints already on file with the Customs and Border Protection Agency.

Orlando currently has 10 of the APC kiosks installed, and are available for US citizens, Canadians and other citizens of the visa waiver countries.

The kiosks are part of SITA’s end-to-end border management technology suite dubbed iBorders, and are only one element in a large package aimed at bringing more technology throughout the border control process to expedite processing and ensure targeted accuracy of questionable individuals.

SITA, of course, is pleased with the beginning of the American rollout of their product. SITA North America President Paul Houghton:

This is another great improvement in the ‘Orlando Experience’, the airport’s initiative to improve customer satisfaction. SITA specializes in using innovative technology to improve the passenger experience at airports around the world. Innovation in border management is a win-win situation. This change is expected to save millions of dollars for the government and the USA travel and tourism industry.”

As SITA explains in their document outlining the kiosk technology:

Once a passenger places his passport on the reader, the entire upper half of the kiosk automatically raises or lowers using eye-finding technology so that the face camera, fingerprint reader and other devices are located at the most ergonomic position to ensure fast and high quality biometric capture. Lighting surrounding the face camera adapts to current airport conditions, which may vary over the day or season, to ensure that the face is evenly lit at the time the image is captured.

This also saves the airport from investing in needless, expensive lighting systems. Passengers are typically delighted, because the kiosk adapts to their personal needs, ensuring a quick and easy process. At the same time, CBP appreciates the high quality of the face and fingerprint biometric data, which is close to that required for a passport application.

At the moment, the kiosks are used in tandem with border agent as a pre-processing tool- so the actual checkpoint doesn’t forgo the human touch; rather this is an initial processing point to expedite the next phase with an actual border control agent.

Eventually, the idea is to allow for complete processing via the kiosks – however, this will take some time to ensure that the process matches the border agent as far as identifying suspicious arrivals.

It’s not a giant leap that there will soon be facial recognition technology to identify suspicious behavior or other factors – like an increased temperature that could suggest flu or other incoming disease (especially for places like Asia that already do this with manned cameras).

Ten other airports in the United States have APC kiosks for use by incoming US and Canadian citizens.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail to someone
Nick Vivion

About the Writer :: Nick Vivion

Nick helps brands blog better at Ghost Works, a boutique blog management service. Nick was previously the Director of Content for tnooz, where he oversaw the editorial and commercial content as well as producing/hosting tnoozLIVE.



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. lee

    Glad to see this. Other countries have been doing this for incoming / outgoing for years. Outgoing? Yeah the US needs to have some sort of outbound passport control… but that’s another story. If they do replace agents, hopefully they will still allow people to get a stamp on arrival!

  2. Salvador Blue

    Orlando may be the first airport with SITA kiosks, but it is not the first U.S. airport with this kind of technology. Kiosks at U.S. CBP are in place at half a dozen airports through the U.S. and Canada.

    • Nick Vivion

      Nick Vivion

      Thanks for that comment Salvador. I will update the piece, as Orlando is the only airport where this technology is available for incoming visitors from visa waiver countries.



      • Alex

        And most other airports STILL have an agent who double checks the pass that was printed for you by the kiosk!

    • Tony

      and that half a dozen of airports have the 37 VWP technology? No, they don´t !!!


Newsletter Subscription

Please subscribe now to Tnooz’s FREE daily newsletter.

This lively package of news and information from Tnooz’s web site provides a convenient digest of what’s happening in technology that drives the global travel, tourism and hospitality market.

  • Cancel