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CBP: Changing the Face of Travel

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

During the boarding process, you simply stand in front of the camera to have your photo taken. The picture taken is then matched against the photo you had provided with your passport application.

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 Exit:

  • Atlanta (ATL)
  • Boston (BOS)
  • Dallas (DFW)
  • Detroit (DTW)
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
  • Houston Hobby (HOU)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • New York (JFK)
  • Orlando (MCO)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • San Jose (SJC)
  • Washington Dulles (IAD)
  • Washington Reagan (DCA)

Air Entry:

  • Abu Dhabi Preclearance (AUH)
  • Aruba Preclearance (AUA)
  • Atlanta (ATL)
  • Dublin Preclearance (DUB)
  • 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)

Sea Entry:

  • Cape Liberty Cruise Terminal, Bayonne, NJ/ Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines
  • Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale, FL/Celebrity Cruise Lines
  • Port Miami, Miami/Norwegian Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines
  • Port Canaveral, FL/Norwegian Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines


CBP is fully committed to compliance with privacy laws and regulations, and to protecting traveler’s 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. The TVS, which does not store biographic data for any travelers, deletes all photos within 12 hours of identity verification Pictures of U.S. Citizens and exempt aliens[1] are taken and transmitted to CBP solely for the purpose of validating the identity of the traveler and ensuring that the passport being presented belongs to the individual presenting the document. Only CBP has access to this biometric data. No personally identifiable information associated with biometrics is ever shared with our industry partners during or after the “match/no match” determination.

CBP temporarily retains photos of all other travelers for up to 14 days in secure CBP systems to support system audits, to evaluate the Traveler Verification Service (TVS) facial recognition technology, and to ensure accuracy of the facial comparison process. CBP may also store photos of in-scope travelers[2] in the DHS Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT),[3] only in accordance with the applicable Privacy Act 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.

At this time, CBP does not require U.S. Citizens or exempt aliens to have their pictures taken when entering or exiting the country. These travelers who request not to participate in this facial comparison process may notify a CBP Officer or an airline or airport representative in order to seek an alternative means of verifying their identities and documents.

Moving forward, updates will be communicated through relevant Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs) and System of Records Notices (SORNs), in compliance with the Privacy Act of 1974 and E-Government Act of 2002, and where appropriate, through notices published in the Federal Register. This website will also be updated, as needed, to inform the public of published notices, policies, privacy documents and regulations.

For more information on the facial comparison process, how data is safeguarded, permissible data sharing, and photo retention, please 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] “In-scope” aliens 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).

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


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