The global increase in air travel has led to the implementation of improved immigration control systems in airports all across the world. The intended effects, that is, higher security levels and greater efficiency when it comes to handling passengers, are achieved by means of the combination of fingerprint scanning, facial recognition technology and human work. This way, queues and waiting times at the security checkpoints are meant to be considerably reduced, while safety remains a crucial target. However, it must be noted that, although eGates can be found in many airports already, they are still being trialed in some of them, there is still room for improvement and not everyone know the requirements to be eligible to go through an eGate either upon arrival or before departure, which in turn are frequently specific to each country.
Who can go through the eGates at the airport?
As a general rule, you must be 18 or older to have your face or fingerprint scanned at the eGate of an airport security checkpoint, or else be a minor (aged 10/12 to 18) accompanied by an adult. Notwithstanding that, there is an even more important requirement: to be in possession of an electronic or biometric passport, which integrates a chip with your photo that will be checked against your scanned facial features; this part of the process will make it virtually impossible for anyone to impersonate you or cheat the system.
Citizens and permanent residents of each country are the first ones to be registered and allowed to use eGates as long as they are eligible, but many airports are gradually making the service available to other nationalities. Before you travel, visit the website of your destination airport and check whether you will be admitted through the automated border control since, oftentimes, even if you have a biometric passport, you won’t be allowed to use it if the two countries do not have an agreement.
How do eGates work?
First and foremost, if you will be using the eGates upon arrival on an overseas destination, make sure you carry with you any required visa or permit that you may be asked for as a foreign visitor; either the system itself or an airport agent will check that you have them and otherwise you can be denied entry. The whole process should take you just between twenty seconds and a couple of minutes at most.
Have your electronic ID document or biometric passport ready, as you will need to hold it up to the reader or scanner so that the first gate opens for you. Once inside, the gate will close and you won’t be able to proceed until your face or fingerprint is scanned and checked against the information the system has about you. Also, know that this information will be saved and updated each time you go through security at an airport using this method. When you are identified and everything is ok, the second gate opens and you can proceed to the boarding concourse.
While trials are carried out, this process might vary from one airport to another and, even more likely, from one country to another. In some cases facial recognition will suffice, while other times fingerprints or questions from an agent will be part of it too.
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Which airports across the world have eGates?
The denomination of automated border control systems across the world varies, yet the process does not change. Thus, be aware that eGates in Germany, for instance, may be referred to as EasyPass, and airport agents in Prague might guide you to go through the EasyGo checkpoints before boarding your plane. In France, they are called the PARAFE gates, and SmartGates in the United Arab Emirates. The renowned Global Entry program in the USA incorporates the eGates in their Global Entry kiosks, present in more than fifty four US airports, while the Smart Entry Service is the equivalent in Korean airports.
Some of the main international aviation hubs that have already implemented eGates are Rome Fiumicino International and Milano Malpensa airport in Italy; Copenhagen Kastrup in Denmark; Prague airport in the Czech Republic; Brussels airport in Belgium; Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney airport in Australia; Munich and Frankfurt in Germany; Paris Orly, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Lyon airport in France; Budapest in Hungary, Dublin airport (in both terminals) in Ireland; Lisboa and Faro airport in Portugal; Oslo Gardermoen in Norway; Alicante, Barcelona, Madrid, Málaga, Palma de Mallorca and Ibiza airport in Spain; Hong Kong International airport; Narita airport in Japan; Suvarnabhumi airport in Thailand, plus thirteen airports in the UK (including Heathrow) and over fifty in the United States.