CBP introduces Simplified Arrival at San Juan and Philadelphia

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has introduced its Simplified Arrival process at Puerto Rico’s Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport ( SJU) and Philadelphia International Airport (PHL).

Simplified Arrival is an international arrival process that uses biometric facial comparison to automate the manual document checks that are already required for admission into the United States.

It means that all international passengers arriving at San Juan and Philadelphia will have their facial biometrics captured.

CBP’s biometric facial comparison process compares the live picture of the passenger to a small gallery of high-quality images the passenger has already provided to the U.S. government, such as passport and visa photos.

If the biometric matchup doesn’t work for any passenger, they can enjoy the traditional inspection process consistent with existing requirements for entry into the United States.

How it works

  1. The passenger has their facial biometrics captures at the main inspection point
  2. A CBP officer reviews and queries the passenger’s travel document, and then retrieves the passenger’s passport or visa photo from a government database
  3. The facial biometric technology compares the live biometrics with those in the government database, which should be to the photo originally taken for their travel document

If a passenger cannot be matched to a photo on record using the Simplified Arrival process, they will proceed through the traditional inspection process for entry into the United States.

San Juan

CBP and Aerostar, who run San Juan, have already started a biometric exit pilot for passengers departing San Juan to Panama via Copa Airlines.


CBP officers processed nearly 600,000 international passengers at PHL Airport last year, and more than 1.6 million during 2019, the last full year before the implementation of COVID-related travel restrictions.

CBP Biometrics

CBP uses facial recognition for entry at 32 airports encompassing a total of 20 terminals, which includes nine Preclearance locations.

Biometric Exit is deployed at 28 airports encompassing a total of 21 terminals.

There are 7 seaports where it is in use by cruise lines.

N.B. Image credit: CBP

Internet links

San Juan (SJU)

Philadelphilia (PHL)

CBP biometrics