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CBP Introduces Biometric Facial Comparison Technology at Douglas and Naco Ports of Entry

Release Date: 
March 1, 2021

Seamless arrival process will support travel recovery efforts

CBP Officer processing traveler through biometric facial comparison at the Douglas, Arizona Port of Entry.
The biometric facial comparison process at Douglas port of entry.

DOUGLAS, Ariz. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has introduced Simplified Arrival at the pedestrian border crossings in Douglas and Naco, Arizona.

Simplified Arrival is an enhanced international arrival process that uses biometric facial comparison technology to automate the manual document checks that are already required for admission into the United States. This process provides travelers with a secure, touchless travel experience while fulfilling a longstanding Congressional mandate to biometrically record the entry and exit of non-U.S. citizens.

“CBP is employing facial biometrics to build a best-in-class travel system that facilitates lawful travel while maintaining the highest security and privacy standards,” said Guadalupe H. Ramirez, CBP Director of Field Operations for the Tucson Field Office. “Simplified Arrival will improve the travel experience of the more than 800,000 pedestrians who enter the United States through Douglas and Naco every year.”

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 a traveler arrives at the pedestrian lanes or undergoes I-94 processing at Douglas or Naco, he or she will pause for a photo at the primary inspection point. A CBP officer will review and query the travel document, which will retrieve the traveler’s passport or visa photo from government holdings. The new photo of the traveler will be compared to the photo previously collected.

The biometric facial comparison process only takes a few seconds and is more than 98 percent accurate. In addition, foreign travelers who have traveled to the United States previously will no longer need to provide fingerprints, as their identity will be confirmed through the touchless facial biometric 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 admission into the United States.

To date, more than 64 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 more than 400 imposters from illegally entering the United States by using genuine travel documents that were issued to other people.

U.S. travelers and those foreign nationals who are not required to provide biometrics and 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 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.

More information about CBP’s efforts to secure and streamline travel through facial biometrics can be found here.

 

Last modified: 
March 1, 2021