Biometrics Technology and its Applications for Border Management Continue to Expand

Technology providers around the world have been continuously developing and refining biometric capture tools in recent years, including those used for facial recognition, iris scanning, and most commonly, fingerprinting. Expanded military and law enforcement applications have driven the demand for these products with a noticeably increased use of biometrics in the field of border management.

Multiple countries now incorporate some level of biometric capture in their international traveler admissibility screening process. These include, but are not limited to: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Gambia, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South African, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

For U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) different biometric capture tools and related technologies, including handheld capture devices and automated passport kiosks, are at various levels of deployment and experimentation in both the entry and exit environment. In addition to U.S. visa application processes requiring biometric capture, e-Passports, now issued to U.S. Citizens as well as those individuals entering from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries, incorporate a biometric component. The relatively new Department of Homeland Security, Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM) continues to coordinate with CBP on improving operational efficiencies.

​The exact future of CBP policies and operations related to biometrics has yet to be determined. However, every second of time it takes to process a traveler at the border is critical to CBP and if improved biometric technology can “screen at the speed of life” it is safe to say that its use at the border will continue to expand.

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