CBP to Employ Facial Recognition Biometric Exit Technology in Limited Trial at Washington Dulles International Airport

Written by Alexander J. Segal on

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On June 2, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security released a document titled “CBP Deploys Biometric Exit Technology to Washington Dulles International Airport” [PDF version].

The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that it will deploy “facial recognition biometric exit technology for one daily flight from the United States to Dubai.” This builds on a June 2016 pilot program by the CBP at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport that also used facial recognition [link].

Biometric Exit

The CBP explained how the process works:

  1. Using the flight manifest, the CBP builds a flight-specific photo gallery using the photographs from the travel documents provided by travelers to the airline; and
  2. The CBP compares the live photo taken of the traveler against the document photo in the gallery in order to ensure that the traveler is the true bearer of his or her travel document.

If the live photo is confirmed to match a U.S. passport, the traveler is determined to be out of scope for biometric exit purposes. This is because the traveler would be a U.S. citizen. The photos of U.S. citizen are discarded after a short period.

The DHS stated in the news release that future deployments of the technology are expected at more airports this summer.

The DHS also noted that on May 31, 2017, JetBlue announced that it would collaborate with the CBP to test a new “self-boarding process” as part of trials to implement a biometric exit process. The program will start in June on flights from Boston Logan International Airport to Queen Beatrix International Airport in Aruba. Customers will be able to “opt-in” to the new trial. The DHS stated that additional pilot programs will be implemented by other airliners this summer.

The DHS explained that “[t]here are several Congressional mandates that direct the [DHS] to record the arrival and departure of non-U.S. citizens by collecting biometrics.”

Please see our full article on FY 2016 visa overstay statistics for more information about the ongoing plans to develop a comprehensive biometric entry-exit system [see blog].