CBP Launches Simplified Arrival at Tampa Airport to Secure, Streamline International Travel

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced in early April, the implementation of Simplified Arrival at Tampa International Airport (TPA).

Simplified Arrival is an enhanced international arrivals process that uses facial biometrics to automate the manual document checks that are already required for admission into the United States. Simplified Arrival provides travelers with a secure, touchless travel experience and fulfills a longstanding Congressional mandate to biometrically record the entry and exit of non-U.S. citizens.

“We are excited to partner with the Tampa International Airport to expand the use of facial biometrics,” said CBP Acting Area Port Director Joseph Sabuda. “Using biometric systems is the future of travel and tourism because it creates a safe, secure, and touchless travel experience for anyone arriving in the United States.”

Simplified Arrival only uses the biometric facial comparison process at a time and place where travelers are already required by law to verify their identity by presenting a travel document. When travelers arrive from overseas, they will pause for a photo at the primary inspection point. The photograph is compared to the traveler’s passport or visa photo.  

Simplified Arrival pairs one of the industry’s highest ranked facial comparison algorithms (as assessed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology) with trained CBP officers who are skilled at verifying the authenticity of travel documents. The facial comparison process only takes a few seconds and is more than 98 percent accurate.

“Tampa International Airport has always embraced innovation as a way to not only ensure passenger and airport safety but to enhance the customer experience,” said John Tiliacos, Executive Vice President of Operations and Customer Service at TPA. “Biometric screening is a huge advancement in air travel safety and convenience that sets us up for even more contactless and efficient processes in the future. We’re thankful for our strong partnership with U.S. Customs and Border Protection in putting TPA at the forefront of this technology.”

To date, more than 68 million travelers have participated in the biometric facial comparison process at air, land and seaports of entry. Since September 2018, CBP has leveraged facial biometrics to prevent nearly 600 imposters from illegally entering the United States by using genuine travel documents issued to other people.

Simplified Arrival is voluntary for U.S. citizens and for select foreign nationals who are not required to provide biometrics. Eligible travelers who wish to opt out of the new facial biometric process may notify a CBP officer when approaching the primary inspection point.

Travelers who opt out or who cannot be matched to a photo on record using the Simplified Arrival process will be required to present a valid travel document for inspection by a CBP officer and will be processed consistent with existing requirements for admission into the United States.

Foreign travelers who have traveled to the U.S. previously may not be required to provide fingerprints, as their identity will be confirmed through the touchless facial comparison process.