The Korea Herald


S. Korea, U.S. push to implement automated immigration checks


Published : Nov. 14, 2011 - 13:17

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South Korea and the United States have agreed to step up preparations to provide travelers from each other's country with automated immigration checks instead of face-to-face interviews, an official said Sunday.

In April, South Korea's Justice Ministry and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security signed an agreement that calls for expanding the U.S. Global Entry Program (GEP) to South Korean visitors, and vice versa.

Simplifying immigration procedures was one of the topics at a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum held on the U.S. resort island of Hawaii on Sunday. The "Honolulu Declaration"

adopted at the end of the meeting called for APEC members to work toward the cause.

In particular, officials from the South and the U.S. agreed to implement the automated immigration system from as early as January, a government official said. If the system goes into effect, "trusted travelers" from each side can use automated immigration counters without having to go through conventional inspections, he said.

Biometric information, such as fingerprints, should be registered to become "trusted travelers," he said.

"It hasn't been decided yet what biometric information to collect and other details," the official said. "We are making preparations under a goal to implement the system in January."

If put into effect, it will make South Korea the third country to be included in the GEP after the Netherlands and Germany.

The GEP system, allowing pre-approved and trusted members to get faster airport customs clearance, is used in 20 U.S. airports.

South Korea operates a similar program called the Korea Immigration Smart Service (KISS) at Incheon and Gimpo international airports near Seoul. (Yonhap News)