Customs

Automated passport system expands

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Two busy international airports in Texas have adopted Customs and Border Protection's Automated Passport Control system to speed up customs processing for arriving international travelers with U.S. or Canadian passports.

Officials at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport said on Feb. 10 that they have been operating 30 APC kiosks since late October as part of a larger plan to make international travel through the facility more efficient.

On Feb. 14, the Houston Airport System said 20 APC kiosks had been installed at George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Officials added that the airport handled a record 9 million international passengers in 2013.

The two Texas airports are among 10 in the United States that are participating in the expedited customs processing program. In July 2013, 32 APC kiosks were installed at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. Since then, the airport claims travelers' wait times during peak periods have fallen from 50 minutes to 34 minutes.

According to officials at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport, the kiosks handled 320,000 customers in the first three months of operation, representing 55 percent of the airport's arriving passengers. The system also allows CBP to reallocate resources to greet foreign passport holders, shortening those lines as well.

Airport officials plan to add another 24 kiosks to serve passengers who come from countries that have visa waiver agreements with the United States, including the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, South Korea, Australia and Spain.

The kiosks allow U.S. citizens traveling overseas to scan their passports and answer a series of questions via a touch screen for preclearance inspection. When they finish, users receive a printed receipt to hand to a CBP officer. No preregistration is required, according to the agency. Canadian citizens with passports can also use the kiosks.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a staff writer covering acquisition, procurement and homeland security. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.

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