Hong Kong Airport starts facial recognition for departures

Hong Kong e-channels
Hong Kong permanent residents have been using e-Channels since 2004

Passengers leaving Hong Kong International Airport should have a quicker and simpler departure from October 10.

The airport has installed a new biometric system, called Smart Departure, that uses facial recognition for identity verification.

To use the new system, passengers have their picture taken on arrival and that is compared with the photos in their travel documents.

If passengers are eligible to use the e-channel for departure, they will be issued with a landing slip that bears the Smart Departure logo.

On departure, passengers again have their picture taken. That is compared with the one in the epassport and the one taken on arrival.

Visitors aged 11 or above who hold valid electronic travel documents compliant with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s requirements, can use Smart Departure without prior enrolment.

The Hong Kong authorities expect the system to cut the average processing time from 50 seconds per person to 20 seconds. More than 5 million visitors annually will be eligible to use the system.

How it works

  • When using Smart Departure, passengers place the bio-data page of their electronic travel document onto the document reader for scanning
  • When the scanning process has been completed, the front gate doors of the e-Channel open and the passenger can enter the e-Channel
  • Inside the e-Channel, they stand on the foot-marked position and look at the camera for facial verification
  • Upon successful verification, the rear gate doors will open and the passenger can leave the e-Channel.

The measures will be first implemented at Hong Kong International Airport and will be extended in phases to other control points.

N.B. Image credit: immd.gov.hk

Internet links

Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)

Hong Kong Immigration Department