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Faceless border control growing in popularity

More and more travellers are swiping their passports themselves at border crossing checkpoints. This year Helsinki Airport expects more than a million users to pass through its automated system.

Automaatti suorittaa rajatarkastuksen Helsinki-Vantaan lentoasemalla.
Finnish travellers coast through border formalities at Helsinki Airport. Image: Yle

The automatic border control system was introduced to help ease congestion during peak hours.

Kuopio-based musician Seppo Parkkinen travels internationally a dozen times a year.

"It [automatic passport control] is much faster, you don’t have to wait and it works really well."

Citizens of the European Economic Area, Switzerland and Japan holding biometric passports can pass through the self-service passport control. Users scan their passport in a reader and later pose for a camera that uses facial recognition technology. It compares their features with a digital photo embedded in the passport.

Last year 600,000 passengers walked through the automated gates, and a million are expected to do so this year.

Pentti Alapelto of the Finnish Border Guard says 70 percent of Finns have a biometric passport. By the end of 2016, that figure will be 100 percent.

The high-tech readers also offer an additional layer of security to traditional passport control.

"We also use the devices to help weed out passengers in cases where we believe a someone is travelling with a false document," explained Alapelto.

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