Airport schiphol

Passport control app at Schiphol promises to revolutionise air travel

Friday, March 1, 2024

Acting CEO of Schiphol, Robert Carsouw, expressed high expectations for the new system, emphasising that "home registration makes passport control much faster and easier," predicting it will soon become the new standard procedure.

In recent years, Amterdam’s Schiphol Airport has experienced significant queues at passport control, with peak periods causing dozens of flight cancellations and commotion among passengers. These queues often result in lengthy wait times, sometimes several hours long. Colonel Elwin van der Molen of the Royal Military Police attributed this to the simultaneous arrival of numerous flights, starting conversation between the airport, airlines, and Dutch authorities to address the issue

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The European Commission asked the Dutch government to start a trial to handle the situation. Hence, the Digital Travel Credential (DTC) experiment. Starting in October ‘23 and scheduled to conclude at the end of March ‘24, the DTC is being managed by State Secretary Eric van der Burg of the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security.

How does it work?

Under this innovative system, KLM travellers who are flying from Canada to the Netherlands, are over the age of 18, and have Canadian, Dutch, or Belgian passports are eligible to participate in the experiment. At complete voluntary participation, these passengers were able to utilise a smartphone app to upload a facial photo and provide trip information from the comfort of their homes. The app then uses biometric data to create a digital travel document.

Upon arrival at the airport, they simply had to hold their passport against the detection gate to swiftly pass through passport control. Their passports could even remain closed, as the detection gate uses the chip information to determine the passengers’ identities. After the flight, the digital travel document is no longer valid and it is recommended that the DTC app be deleted after landing.

What about the data?

A normal concern for many; where is the data stored, what is it used for, and where does it go? According to the official Privacy Policy issued by the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security, strict security measures are implemented to protect personal data, including physical, informational, and personnel security measures. Access to data is limited to necessary screened employees of the involved parties.

Participants data is stored for no longer than 96 hours in three different locations: Canada, Netherlands, and France. Personal data is stored in Canada by KLM for boarding processes, in the Netherlands by KMar for border control, and in France by the processor Idemia for DTC creation and storage. Withdrawal of consent from participants is possible at any point before the flight. There is no sanction for withdrawing consent and data concerning this will also be deleted.

What does this mean for travel as we know it?

In a groundbreaking development that could transform the landscape of airport journeys worldwide, the successful trial of a passport control app at Schiphol Airport is a major step forward in streamlining travel procedures. The implementation of these modern advancements could mean no more long queues, easy airport journeys, and a good kick start for all your future vacations.

That being said, despite the technological advancements enabling border control without physical passports, Colonel Van der Molen noted that widespread implementation across the European Union remains a future prospect as more active collaboration among member states is necessary to overcome logistical and regulatory hurdles.

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The successful trial at Schiphol marks a significant milestone in the evolution of airport security and passenger facilitation. With the potential for seamless, expedited passport control processes, travellers can look forward to a more efficient and hassle-free airport experience in the near future. As advancements in digital technology continue to reshape the travel landscape, the prospect of borderless travel within the EU edges closer to reality.