Intelligent border systems to simplify and increase safety of travel.
Aiming to enhance border security and speed up passenger processing, the Kingdom of Bahrain is the first country in the Middle East to implement an electronic visa system and related technology solutions from aviation IT provider SITA Information Networking Computing (SITA INC) working in partnership with CPS Systems.
Bahrain joins Australia and New Zealand as users of SITA's intelligent borders services to provide the information essential to improving the efficiency of immigration services. This includes tracking systems to monitor and analyse the travel patterns of high-risk passengers.
Phase one of the eBorders project is operational and the trial version of the new eVisa service went online May 4th. The service will initially be limited to visitors from countries eligible for obtaining visit visas on arrival in Bahrain. Gradually, the service will be expanded to include additional countries and visa types as procedures are put in place to manage their travel requests. In time, it is expected to handle over 90 per cent of all eligible visa requests.
The new system will ultimately make a time-consuming trip to a consulate or embassy for a paper-based visa a thing of the past, as the eVisa is issued in a matter of seconds at the time of booking a reservation. It eliminates the traditional paper-based visa and no additional forms or labels in passports are required. All data disclosure and retention will be consistent with established legislative requirements of the Kingdom of Bahrain.
"This will greatly help to facilitate tourism and business", explained His Excellency Sheikh Rashid Bin Khalifa Al Khalifa - Undersecretary for Nationality, Passports and Residence in the Ministry of Interior, The Kingdom of Bahrain. "By reducing the processing time, SITA will enable Bahrain to provide an efficient, secure and convenient passenger service - a vital consideration in light of the growing numbers of travellers to the Kingdom. The new service will allow eligible travellers to quickly obtain an eVisa by applying through airline and travel agent offices as well as Bahraini Embassies worldwide. With a pro-active security approach, the benefits will reflect on travellers, the airlines and the Kingdom of Bahrain at the same time."
In subsequent phases, as airlines use the system to confirm and verify authorization to travel at the time of check-in, the service will allow the General Directorate of Nationality, Passports and Residence (GDNPR) personnel to analyse relevant passenger and flight information well before a flight's arrival. This provision of real-time, accurate and detailed passenger information during check-in, across a global network, allows GDNPR staff to decide whether the passenger can proceed to boarding. This enables border agencies to make advance passenger checks using alert databases and to schedule their staff to deal more effectively with a varying influx of visitors.
"Knowing more about incoming passengers before they arrive will help make travel more secure and simple. As air travel is expected to grow in the next few years, IT systems that enhance security and simplify the journey will become even more critical," commented Francesco Violante, Managing Director, SITA INC. "The beauty of the eBorders system is that a sometimes heavy administrative task can now be performed instantaneously via a computer transaction. The Kingdom of Bahrain is taking the lead to ensure the relevant border control agencies have the detailed and accurate information they need to enhance security, as well as reducing the cost of processing essential travel documentation. By providing the most efficient travel authority processing system in the world, SITA, as a trusted community IT provider, can help airlines and governments increase the efficiency of the services they provide to travellers."
First introduced by the Australian government in 1996, the intelligent border systems provided by SITA and CPS Systems successfully supported the increased numbers of visitors associated with the 2000 Olympic games and the services continue to be in use today. These systems provide advance passenger processing that now accounts for all passengers flying to Australia and issue some 250,000 electronic visas per month. New Zealand began using similar services in August 2003.