In Effort To Reduce Wait Times, Saipan Airport Unveils Automated Passport Machines

ATM-like machines to help overcome problem of too few officers

By Bea Cabrera 

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, July 14, 2017) – Automated Passport Control machines that are hoped to shorten the lengthy immigration lines at the Francisco C. Ada-Saipan International Airport were unveiled at the airport’s arrival area last July 12.

As to how effective the machines are in cutting the wait times at immigration, only time will tell.

APCs are machines physically similar to ATMs and are designed to speed the processing time of in-bound passengers that go through U.S. immigration upon entry.

“The acquisition of the APC machines has a two-fold purpose. One is to address the situation that we don’t have enough Customs and Border Protection officers; and two, to diminish the long lines that in-bound passengers face entering the CNMI,” said Commonwealth Ports Authority board member Barrie Toves.

“Due to the number of flights everyday, the machines will help alleviate and hasten the process of passengers’ entry into the CNMI by the machines’ efficiency and accuracy,” he added.

The installation of the APCs will help designate passengers to the right queues in an orderly and convenient manner.

“Handlers now will be able to direct passengers to the right queues. Whether one is a citizen, a visa-holder, and those with parole authority, there will be an appropriate APC machine upon entry and go through the process expediently,” Toves said

An APC machine is designed to be user-friendly. It has a language selection, a scanner for passport or visa, a camera to take the photo of a passenger, and passengers can answer declarations on screen. A receipt comes out, which will be presented with travel documents to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer.

“CPA also plans to address the process of departure flights in the future to help the Transportation Security Administration officers with screening,” Toves said.

Meeting the demands of the rapid growth of CNMI’s economy is the priority of the CPA.

“We are proud to say that the management team actively works with federal agencies and Marianas Visitors Authority to make all of this possible and make entry convenient for residents and visitors in the CNMI without compromising security, ” Toves added.

Saipan Tribune
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