CLT Introduces Biometrics
Passenger using Biometric Facial screen technology at gate A 23

Nov. 16, 2023 - New technology is in place to instantly verify passengers’ identities before international flights out of Charlotte Douglas International Airport. CLT installed Biometric Facial Comparison technology at approximately 65 gates, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection started using the screening process in October.

About the technology

The implementation of Biometric Facial Comparison technology stems from the 9/11 Commission Report, which authorized the U.S. government to use an automated system to record the arrivals and departures of visitors at all air, sea and land ports of entry. After years of testing and pilot programs, CBP chose facial comparison because it is 98% effective and takes just a few seconds per passenger. CBP has been using it for several years as part of the Simplified Arrival program for people entering the U.S.

It’s quick, easy and secure

When a traveler enters the boarding area for an international flight, they will encounter a camera connected to CBP’s cloud-based facial matching service via a secure, encrypted connection. The camera will match live images with existing photo templates from the passenger’s travel documents. Once the system makes a match, the traveler can board the plane. It’s a fast and touch-free experience.

What happens to the photo?

Charlotte Douglas International Airport does not keep the images. For U.S. citizens, CBP discards the photos taken by biometric screening within 12 hours of identity verification. The agency securely stores photos of some foreign nationals in Department of Homeland Security systems.

More information

Signage and voice announcements explain the Biometric Facial Comparison process at gates where it is in use. At CLT, the screening is only being used for international flights. Passengers who choose to opt out of facial recognition screening should talk to the airline gate agent who will arrange for a manual screening. In lieu of facial images, travelers may be asked to present travel documents, proof of identification, and in some cases provide fingerprints.

CBP is required to verify the identity of all international travelers. Facial biometrics helps make that process quick and touch-free.

By the numbers:

CBP uses biometric technology to enter the U.S. at all international airports, and for international exit at 46+ airports.

The technology also is used at 38 seaports as well as pedestrian lanes at the southwest and northern borders ports of entry.

So far, CBP has processed 300+ million travelers using biometric facial comparison technology and has prevented 1,800 impostors from entering the U.S.