US immigration goes hi-tech
US Customs and Border Control transitioned to the new airport terminal yesterday with new technology on board.
Cletus William, Port Director at CBP Bermuda, said the new terminal includes Simplified Arrival – a touchless international arrival process based on facial biometrics.
The new system is intended to further secure and streamline international arrivals while fulfilling a US Congressional mandate to biometrically record the entry and exit of non-US citizens.
Mr William said: “Combining Simplified Arrival with our pre-clearance procedures will not only help us process passengers more efficiently, but it will allow us to better protect traveller and officer safety.
“This new state of the art facility truly reflects the best Bermuda has to offer, and it exemplifies the strength of the partnership between CBP Pre-clearance and the people of the island.”
He said the new system compares a photograph of the traveller with previous pictures of the traveller such as passport photographs to do away with the need of collecting fingerprints.
Mr William said the employee-side of the system is an evolution of what had been used by customs offers in the old terminal, which has helped staff adapt.
He also said he was happy to see passengers will now pass through security before they reach CBP and that the new baggage system would both benefit travellers and bolster security.
Clint Lamm, Director of Field Operations at CBP Pre-clearance, said: “This opening has been a long time coming, but we are excited to finally deploy critical new resources and technological innovations to help improve the traveller experience in Bermuda, while still maintaining the highest levels of national security.
“The beautiful facility builds onto decades of benefits that this programme has delivered to both Americans and Bermudians.”
Aaron Adderley, president of Skyport, highlighted the importance of pre-clearance as a benefit for travellers visiting the island from the US.
Through the pre-clearance system, established in Bermuda in 1974, travellers complete customs, immigration and agricultural inspections before they board US-bound flight, which allows them to avoid longer lines after they land.
Mr Adderley said: “For any of you who have had to go through Miami or JFK and had to stand in those lines, you can truly appreciate the benefits we Bermudians have with pre-clearance.
“It also provides us as a destination with added benefits. I can’t tell you the number of times I have sat down with carriers and they communicate to me the benefits of Bermuda having pre-clearance and what it means for them as an airline.”