The Department of Home Affairs is working on a number of new technologies which it says will help speed up travel times.
In its recently tabled annual performance plan for 2022/2023, the department said this will include the introduction of new biometric solutions at both the country’s airports and land borders.
The country is also introducing new visas and an e-gate systems which are expected to cut down on processing time.
Biometric Movement Control System (BMCS)
The department is in the process of developing a Biometric Movement Control System (BMCS) which will enable the capturing of fingerprint and facial biometric data of all travellers who enter or exit South Africa.
This will be built onto the existing live capture platform and be rolled out at 34 ports of entry across the country, it said.
While the list of identified ports of entry is subject to change, the system is expected to roll out at the major airport and land borders including:
• OR Tambo International Airport;
• Cape Town International Airport;
• King Shaka International Airport;
• Lanseria International Airport;
• Beit Bridge;
• Lebombo (including KM 7 and 4);
• Maseru Bridge;
E-gates and trusted passenger system
The department is currently piloting e-gates at Cape Town International Airport aimed at improving passenger processing times and experience whilst maintaining the security and integrity of the country’s borders.
The goal is to expand these e-gates to the country’s other major international airports alongside the introduction of a new passenger name record system.
The passenger name record system will be used to identify unknown threats based on passenger profiles, and the advanced passenger processing system is used to identify known suspects (for example, those on stop and watchlists).
For the e-gates pilot at Cape Town International Airport, South African passport holders travelling internationally will proceed to e-gates for self-service immigration clearance where the following is performed:
• Biometric verification;
• Passport authenticity and validity checks;
• Checks against the BMCS risk engine; and
• The BMCS will record the movements of persons on the system after all system checks have been successfully performed.
Home Affairs said that the e-gates project will help address the key issue of traveller identification management, which is at the heart of secure and facilitated travel.
The department plans to expand both its traditional visa and e-visa systems in the coming years which will make it easier for tourists and business travellers to enter the country.
It noted that the tourist module of the e-Visa has been activated in 14 countries thus far, including China, India, Kenya and Nigeria.
“The e-Visa system will see tourists and visitors to South Africa applying for their visas online, the applications sent to a central adjudication hub for approval whilst applicants sit in the comfort of their homes. This will result in the issuing of virtual visas,” the department said.
“This paperless virtual visa will combat visa fraud and open South Africa as a desirable destination and the e-Visa system will have huge tourism growth implications for the country.”
As announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his state of the nation address, the department said it will also streamline and modernise the visa application process to make it easier to travel to South Africa for the purposes of tourism, business and work.
“A comprehensive review of the work visa regime is currently underway and includes exploring the possibility of new visa categories that could enable economic growth, such as a startup visa and remote working visa,” it said.
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