May 14, 2021 - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced today the implementation of biometric facial comparison technology to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) as part of CBP’s efforts to secure and streamline international travel.
“CBP is expanding the use of facial biometrics at Charlotte Douglas International Airport to provide travelers a safe, touchless international arrival process that further secures and modernizes air travel,” said Barry Chastain, CBP Area Port Director Charlotte. “Our valuable partnership with CLT continues to enhance the travel experience. In addition, CBP looks forward to partnering with stakeholders at other international ports of entry across N.C. to implement Simplified Arrival.”
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 secure, touchless travel experience while fulfilling a longstanding Congressional mandate to biometrically record the entry and exit of non-U.S. citizens.
“We are excited to partner with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to offer Simplified Arrival at CLT,” said Acting Aviation Director Haley Gentry. “As one of the busiest airports in the world, this innovative technology will provide our millions of passengers each year an enhanced customer experience upon their return to the U.S.”
The biometric facial comparison process occurs only 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 CLT, 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 and compare it to the new photo.
This enhanced process using facial biometrics only takes a few seconds and is more than 98 percent accurate. In addition, foreign travelers who have traveled to the United States previously may no longer need to provide fingerprints, as their identity will be confirmed through the touchless facial biometric process.
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.
U.S. travelers and foreign nationals who are not required to provide biometrics and wish to opt out of the new biometric process can simply 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.
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 72 million travelers have participated in the biometric facial comparison process at air, land, and seaports of entry. Since September 2018, CBP has leveraged facial biometrics to prevent more than 650 imposters from illegally entering the United States by using genuine travel documents that were issued to other people.
More information about CBP’s efforts to secure and streamline travel through facial biometrics can be found here.