Singapore Aims For Passport-Free Departures From Changi Airport Next Year

Singapore is set to introduce passport-free departures from Changi Airport beginning in the first half of 2024, in a significant step towards improving travel efficiency and convenience, Bloomberg reported. These changes are part of a larger update to the city-state’s immigration laws, which will allow eligible travellers to obtain end-to-end biometric clearance.

During a parliamentary session on Monday, Communications Minister Josephine Teo announced this groundbreaking development, outlining how biometrics will be used for authentication at various automated checkpoints throughout the departure process. These checkpoints will include critical stages such as baggage drop, immigration clearance, and boarding procedures, the report said. 

Teo emphasised the benefits of this technological upgrade, stating, “This will reduce the need for passengers to repeatedly present their travel documents at these touchpoints, allowing for more seamless and convenient processing,” Bloomberg quoted him as saying. 

The timing of this innovation aligns with Singapore’s anticipation of a resurgence in travel to the financial hub, expected to reach pre-pandemic levels by the following year. Furthermore, the city-state is poised for sustained growth in its travel sector, as evidenced by ongoing infrastructure developments, including the construction of a fifth airport terminal and the imminent high-speed rail connection with Malaysia’s southern state of Johor.

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Teo commented on the necessity of adapting immigration systems to accommodate the anticipated surge in traveler numbers while maintaining stringent security measures, saying, “Our immigration systems must be able to manage this high and growing volume of travelers efficiently and provide a positive clearance experience, while ensuring our security.”

Changi Airport, which is consistently ranked as the best airport in the world, passed a significant milestone in June 2023 when it handled 5.12 million passengers. This was the first time the number of passengers exceeded five million since January 2020, when the global pandemic had a significant impact on international travel. The figure, which accounts for 88% of passenger traffic in June 2019, reflects Singapore’s progress in renewing its international connectivity as well as its commitment to improving the travel experience for all passengers.

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