Biometric Air Exit

CBP has begun implementation of Biometric Air Exit. Either CBP or airline partners will take photographs of passengers while boarding international departing aircraft from the U.S. The purpose is to confirm that each passenger is the true bearer of the travel document required for travel. In addition, for non-U.S. citizens, the photograph will be used as biometric confirmation of departure from the United States, as required by law (8 U.S. Code § 1365b).

Biometric information (such as finger, face, or iris) measures a person’s unique physical characteristics. CBP incorporated fingerprints for biometric identification and verification in 2004, and is now testing facial imaging capabilities to help improve travelers’ identity protection, the integrity of our immigration system, and our national security.

Biometric Exit Overview

  • In June 2016, CBP launched its first facial biometric demonstration at Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for biometric exit in partnership with an airline. Based on the Atlanta success, CBP has now expanded this demonstration and developed a robust cloud-based service called the Traveler Verification Service (TVS). CBP is implementing capability demonstrations of the TVS at several additional airports.
  • CBP has already launched airline specific partnerships with JetBlue at Boston and Delta at JFK and Atlanta, where they have integrated biometric verification into the boarding process. 

Biometric Exit Privacy and Security

  • CBP is fully committed to meeting existing privacy laws and regulations, and has published several Privacy Impact Assessments (PIA) for this program to date—we are committed to public transparency on how we collect and use biometric data.
  • We have selected a biometric modality (face recognition) that does not require any new biometric collection for the purposes of international travel. U.S. citizens have been required to provide photographs to the State Department for passports for many years. Further, nearly all countries require a facial image as part of travel documents in order to cross an international border, or be admitted into a country.
  • The Traveler Verification System (TVS) uses CBP’s biographic Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) manifest data and existing photographs of U.S. citizen and non-U.S. citizen travelers boarding international flights to confirm the identity of the traveler, create an exit record, and biometrically confirm the exit of in-scope non-U.S. citizens.
  • Facial images and their templates are deleted from CBP systems by the conclusion of the flight and are purged from CBP IT systems within 14 days.
  • CBP creates biometric templates of each of the (1) historical photos and (2) newly-captured exit photos for matching and storage.  Biometric templates are:
    • Strings of multiple numbers representing images
    • Irreversible—cannot be reverse-engineered for viewing by anyone outside of CBP.
    • Matched against other templates that represent facial images
  • CBP’s biometric efforts enhance the traveler’s experience and increases security by decreasing the number of times a physical travel document must be shown.

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