U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Aerostar announced today the implementation of a Biometric Exit process at the Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport (SJU). Copa Airlines is the first international airline to collaborate with CBP and Aerostar to advance this important initiative at SJU.
Biometric Exit is an enhanced international departure process that uses facial biometrics to automate the manual document checks that are already required for departure from airports and seaports in the United States. The technology provides travelers with a touchless process that further secures and streamlines international departures. Years of testing have shown that public-private partnerships are the best way to fulfill a longstanding Congressional mandate to biometrically record the entry and exit of non-U.S. citizens.
“As an agency, we are always working on innovative solutions to facilitate travel while also fulfilling our border security mission. Biometric facial comparison, both at entry and departure points, provides a touchless identity verification process that enhances security and improves efficiency, protecting not only travelers, but airline and airport employees as well as our own CBP Officers,” said San Juan Field Office Director of Field Operations Gregory Alvarez.
Biometric Exit is currently deployed at 27 airports in the United States.
“At Copa, we are excited to be pioneers of this program’s implementation at Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport. We value our partnership with CBP and strive to make our passengers’ journey safer and seamless every day,” stated Luis Fermin, Regional Airport Manager.
To date, more than 61 million travelers have participated in the secure, seamless, and touchless experience of the biometric facial comparison process at air, land and sea ports of entry.
“At Aerostar, we are looking forward to the implementation of this pilot program that will offer a contactless solution in boarding gates and will improve the passenger’s experience as well as airport security,” stated Jorge Hernandez, CEO of Aerostar.
Biometric Exit 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 travelers depart from SJU on international Copa Airlines flights, they will pause for a photo at the departure gate. CBP’s Biometric Exit process will compare the new photo of the traveler to a small gallery of high-quality images that the traveler has already provided to the U.S. Government, such as passport and visa photos.
Biometric Exit 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 through Biometric Exit, the traveler will proceed through the traditional inspection process consistent with existing requirements for departure from the United States.
Travelers who wish to opt out of the new biometric process may notify an airline official or a CBP officer as they approach the departure gate. These travelers will be required to present a valid travel document for inspection by the gate agent and they will be processed consistent with existing requirements for departure from 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 foreign nationals who are statutorily required to provide biometrics will be stored in a secure Department of Homeland Security system.
CBP leverages public-private partnerships, existing technologies, and traveler information held within Department of Homeland Security (DHS) holdings to reduce the administrative burden on CBP officers during each inspection and improve efficiency.