Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) announced on Feb. 13, that it aims to have all foreign visitors go through immigration through new automated lanes without prior registration.
In addition, the new lanes will provide Singaporeans and departing visitors with contactless check-in, meaning they will not need to present their passports when leaving the country.
New design concept
The lanes are part of the ICA’s new clearance concept, which aims to provide travelers with faster and more seamless clearance at checkpoints.
The ICA said the next generation Automated Border Control System (ABCS) will be introduced in 2024 and will gradually replace the existing automated lanes and manual counters at checkpoints.
To accommodate the growing number of travelers entering Singapore through Changi Airport, ICA will install 230 automated lanes in 2024.
This is in addition to more than 160 additional automated lanes installed in 2023.
Currently, passport holders in 60 jurisdictions can use automated lanes.
In 2023, the ICA also set eight Special Assistance Lanes (SAL) in the arrivals and departures bus halls at Woodlands Checkpoint, eight at Marina Bay Singapore Cruise Center and 42 at Changi Airport Terminals 1, 2 and 3.
Improvement of immigration clearance processes at ground checkpoints
Since the reopening of Singapore’s borders in 2022, ICA has seen an increase in the number of travelers using land crossings.
According to the ICA’s 2023 annual statistics released on February 13, 192.8 million travelers passed through Singapore’s security checkpoints in 2023, an 80% increase from 2022.
During the most recent year-end holidays, 13.6 million travelers departed, an average of 440,000 travelers each day.
The ICA also provided a summary of the improvements made in 2023:
Acceleration of registration in passenger bus cabins
In recent years, the ICA has installed a further 90 automated lanes in the bus halls at the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints, helping the ICA to handle approximately 8,500 travelers per hour during peak departure periods, compared to 5,000 travelers before the pandemic.
More travelers are choosing to cross the Causeway by bus thanks to faster bus concourses, the ICA said.
As of December 2023, nearly 45 percent of travelers passing through the Woodlands checkpoint traveled by bus.
The ICA has also worked with various partners to increase the frequency of bus services to prevent overcrowding in bus halls and minimize waiting times.
This included the Causeway Link bus loop system, dedicated immigration lanes for public bus departures and increased public bus frequency during peak periods.
Woodlands Train checkpoint kiosks for faster clearance
In addition, the ICA has installed 10 two-way self-checkout immigration kiosks at the Woodlands Train checkpoint.
The kiosks combine passport scanning and biometric capture, which take up less physical space than automated lanes.
This allows the ICA to utilize the limited space available at the Woodlands Train checkpoint and provide speedy clearance for travellers. According to the ICA, clearance takes about 24 seconds through the kiosks, compared to 45 seconds at a manual meter.
The exit zone at the Tuas checkpoint for the passage of motorcycles
From May 2023, the ICA will also use the departure area to accommodate motorcyclists entering Singapore via the Second Link in the morning.
This allowed the ICA to overcome the infrastructural limitations of the Tuas checkpoint and increase the capacity to 70 automated lanes from 40.
Reconstruction of the Woodlands checkpoint
According to ICA, Woodlands checkpoint will be reconstructed in stages over the next 10-15 years. This will provide more effective immigration control for travelers in the long term and improve border security.
Reaction to traffic conditions
The ICA said it monitors traffic conditions in real time and adjusts officer deployments to manage the changing traffic system.
Lanes are also flexibly converted to different travel modes during peak load periods, such as converting car zones to motorcycle lanes to minimize motorcycle queues.
“ICA will continue to explore innovative solutions and create deeper service capabilities to improve our operations and deliver an even better customer experience,” ICA said.
Best photo via ICA