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Biometrics: Creating a More Seamless Travel Experience

Biometrics: Creating a More Seamless Travel Experience

Many have asked how CBP landed on facial biometrics as the ideal technology path to a more seamless travel experience. It wasn’t an overnight decision.

We found collecting facial images is easy for both travelers and CBP Officers. The technology is intuitive and hassle-free, with traveler identity matches made quickly. The fact that mobile device users now have the option to use biometrics to unlock their phones also helped shape our decision.

How it Works

Just before entry or exit, each international traveler’s photo is taken, either by CBP-owned cameras or equipment provided by the airlines, airport authority, or cruise line. CBP’s biometric matching service, the Traveler Verification Service (TVS), compares the new photo with DHS holdings, which include images from photographs taken by CBP during the entry inspection, photographs from U.S. passports, U.S. visas and other travel documents, as well as photographs from previous DHS encounters. See the most recent TVS Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) for more information.



Once your photo has been verified, you can immediately board your flight. It is that easy!

Experience it Here

CBP is leading the transformation of the travel experience, but we could never do this alone. Our airline industry and technology partners are playing a critical role. To date, CBP has demonstrated the facial matching service at ports from Virginia to Vegas to Miami. Our pilot programs with Delta, Jet Blue, British Airways, and partnerships with Royal Caribbean and others have opened doors and eyes to a range of possibilities. Collectively, CBP and our partners are making history and delivering clear and undeniable benefits to travelers.

Air Entry:

  • Abu Dhabi Preclearance (AUH)
  • Aruba Preclearance (AUA)
  • Atlanta (ATL)
  • Dublin Preclearance (DUB)
  • Detroit (DTW)
  • Dulles (IAD)
  • Ft. Lauderdale (FLL)
  • Houston (IAH)
  • John F Kennedy (JFK)
  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Los Angeles/Tom Bradley (TBIT)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • Orlando (MCO)
  • San Diego (SAN)
  • San Jose (SJC)
  • Shannon Preclearance (SNN)

Air Exit

  • Atlanta (ATL)
  • Austin (ABIA)
  • Boston (BOS)
  • Chicago (ORD)
  • Dallas (DFW)
  • Detroit (DTW)
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
  • Houston Hobby (HOU)
  • Houston (IAH)
  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP)
  • New Jersey (EWR)
  • New York (JFK)
  • Orlando (MCO)
  • Portland (PDX)
  • San Antonio (SAT)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC)
  • San Diego (SAN)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • San Jose (SJC)
  • Seattle (SEA)
  • Tampa (TPA)
  • Washington Dulles (IAD)
  • Washington Reagan (DCA)

Sea Entry:

  • Cape Liberty Cruise Terminal, Bayonne, NJ
  • Pier 88, New York City, NY
  • Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Port Miami, Miami, FL
  • Port Canaveral, FL
  • Pier 66, Seattle, WA


    CBP is fully committed to compliance with privacy laws and regulations, and to protecting travelers’ information and privacy. CBP’s biometric matching service, the Traveler Verification Service (TVS), is hosted in a secure cloud-based environment and stores only the traveler’s photo. For U.S. Citizens and exempt aliens[1] who elect to participate,[2] as well as all in-scope travelers,[3] a photo is taken and submitted to CBP’s TVS, solely for the purpose of validating the identity of the traveler and ensuring that the passport being presented belongs to the bearer of the document. Only CBP has access to this biometric data. Industry partners only receive results of the “match/no match” determination and not any associated biographic information.


    All photos of U.S. Citizens are deleted within 12 hours of identity verification. Photos of in-scope travelers may be retained for up to 14 days in secure CBP systems to support system audits, to evaluate the TVS facial recognition technology, and to ensure accuracy of the facial comparison process. CBP may also enroll photos of in-scope travelers[2] in the DHS Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT), only in accordance with the applicable Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA)[4] and System of Records Notice (SORN), in order to biometrically record their entry/exit as required by law and to ensure more accurate facial comparisons in the future.


    For specific information on the facial comparison process, please see the FAQs below, visit, or contact the CBP INFO Center at 1-877-CBP-5511 (outside the U.S., call 202-325-8000).


    [1] By law, CBP may require certain aliens to provide biometric identifiers to confirm their admissibility pursuant to 8 CFR 235.1(f)(ii) or, at specified airports, their departure pursuant to 8 CFR 215.8(a)(1). Some aliens are exempt from any requirement to provide biometrics, including: Canadian citizens under section 101(a)(15)(B) of the Act who are not otherwise required to present a visa or be issued a form I-94 or Form I-95; aliens younger than 14 or older than 79 on the data of admission; aliens admitted A-1, A-2, C-3 (except for attendants, servants, or personal employees of accredited officials), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1, NATO-2, NATO-3, NATO-4, NATO-5, or NATO-6 visas, and certain Taiwan officials who hold E-1 visas and members of their immediate families who hold E-1 visas unless the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security jointly determine that a class of such aliens should be subject to the requirements of paragraph (d)(1)(ii); classes of aliens to whom the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State jointly determine it shall not apply; or an individual alien to whom the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of State, or the Director of Central Intelligence determines this requirement shall not apply.

    [2] Travelers who do not wish to participate in this facial comparison process may notify a CBP Officer or an airline, airport or cruise line representative in order to seek an alternative means of verifying their identities and documents.

    [3] “In-scope” travelers are any aliens that are not exempt from a requirement to provide biometric identifiers confirm their admissibility pursuant to 8 CFR 235.1(f)(ii) or, at specified airports, their departure pursuant to 8 CFR 215.8(a)(1).

    [4] See DHS/NPPD/PIA-002 Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT) (December 7, 2012), available at


    For specific information on the facial recognition process, security and privacy concerns please visit the Biometric Frequently Asked Questions