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Automatic passport checking channels open to departing foreigners

FILE PHOTO: TAT Newsroom

But only at the BKK airport. Foreign nationals departing Thailand will be able to use automatic passport scanning machines at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport from Friday, December 15.

The Immigration Bureau has made the change in response to an order from PM Srettha Thavisin. It’s understood that while departing from Suvarnabhumi last November, the PM noticed the long queues of foreign travellers at immigration counters. Thais have been able to use automated passport scanning on departure for a while now.

This prompted the PM to instruct the immigration chief to do something about the situation to improve, and speed up, the departing tourist experience. The PM pointed out that departing tourists risked missing their flights due to the inefficient procedure in place at the time.

According to Itthipol Itthisarnronnachai, commissioner of the Immigration Bureau, a meeting was then convened between Airports of Thailand, immigration police, the immigration technology centre, and a private company.

The automatic departure system, previously only available to Thai nationals, was subsequently upgraded. From Friday, it will be open to foreign holders of e-passports, in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Suvarnabhumi currently handles between 50,000 and 60,000 departing passengers a day, creating long queues at immigration during busy periods. Opening the automatic channels to foreigners will mean around 12,000 passengers an hour being processed, as opposed to the current 5,000.

Bangkok’s main airport currently has 16 automatic passport machines, which have been operational since 2012. Passport checks by machine take just 20 seconds, compared to 45 seconds for manual checks conducted by immigration officers.

Itthipol says that by July 2024, AOT plans to double the number of machines at both Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports for both arriving and departing passengers.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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