Airport officials have announced the implementation of new automated passport machines for American and Canadian travelers in Cancun International Airport starting this winter. The bureaucracy-cutting measure is expected to significantly speed up entry into the country during peak travel times.
The new migration procedure, called e-Gate, is being trialed at Cancun and Mexico City, which see the highest passenger numbers in the country. The introduction of the new electronic migration protocol comes on the heels of the removal of the mandatory FMM form, which was scrapped in August. Together, the recent changes will make it easier and faster than ever before to gain entry to Cancun.
Roberto González López, a spokesperson for the National Institution for Migration (INM) in Quintana Roo, revealed details about the new e-Gate system in a recent press conference. “In introducing the new controls, Cancun airport will be among the most important airports in the world to use the technology to facilitate migratory checks for millions of tourists by using the highest security standards,” the official went on to say.
Work has already begun on installing the new electronic gates in both Cancun and Mexico City airports. The state-of-the-art kiosks use optical readers to scan passports in a matter of seconds, gathering and processing passenger data. Once complete, the new procedure will substitute migration forms that passengers previously had to fill out upon entering the country.
The automated process will take around 30 seconds from start to end. To use the e-Gate, arriving passengers must first scan their passports and boarding cards at the automated passport gate. After a successful reading, travelers will pass through the electronic gate, where a picture and biometric data are taken. After gathering all the legally required information, passengers’ data is checked on international databases, and if everything is in order, they are granted access to the country.
Initially, only American and Canadian travelers will be able to benefit from the new e-Gate system. The two nationalities make up the overwhelming majority of international travelers to the area, and the system is specifically designed to cope with record travel demand.
Officials say the introduction of the e-Gate system will help the airport to handle growing passenger numbers, even during low season. But the largest benefit will be felt during peak travel periods, such as Easter, as well as the winter vacation season. Large international events, such as concerts or trade shows that attract thousands of visitors at a time will also gain from simplified migratory checks.
Over 25 million visitors are expected to fly through Cancun International Airport this year, and authorities remain hopeful a new all-time record will be set. The Mexican Caribbean state of Quintana Roo welcomes up to 41% of all international arrivals in the country, prompting authorities to tackle hour-long lines and red tape. The airport handles up to 600 flights during the busiest days, during which large lines can form at immigration and customs.
Over the course of the year, authorities have taken several steps to facilitate the entry of U.S. and Canadian travelers. Americans account for the vast majority of all travelers to the state and remain the main source of income for the tourism industry. In August, officials scrapped the mandatory FMM arrival form, granting U.S tourists fast-track entry into the country.
With Cancun International Airport facing staffing issues in addition to growing passenger numbers, authorities are keen on streamlining the entry process as much as possible. This week, new electronic check-in kiosks were also added to Cancun airport’s Terminal 2, further helping alleviate congestion at the busy terminal.
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