Saturday, March 25, 2023
SingaporeICA said more travelers are detected trying to disguise their identity at...

ICA said more travelers are detected trying to disguise their identity at the border of Singapore in 2022

There has been a surge in the number of travelers trying to enter Singapore using disguised identities or identities they have never used before when the border reopened in 2022.

Disclosing this on Friday, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said there has been a nearly 15-fold increase in such cases at Singapore’s borders – from 28 cases in 2021 to 441 cases in 2022.

In response to a question from The Straits Times, an ICA spokesperson said that travellers who are found to be using a duplicate identity or an identity different from their previous trip to Singapore to bypass Singapore’s checkpoints, will be refused entry and prohibited from returning to Singapore.

The Straits Times said that they have asked the ICA for pre-pandemic figures as well.

ICA said the traveler is tracked by a biometric clearance system, which uses iris patterns and facial features as the primary identifier for immigration clearance.

The detected cases often involve immigration offenders who have previously overstayed or been deported, or those who have committed or attempted to commit various offenses in Singapore.

The jump comes amid a significant increase in the number of travellers, as shown in the ICA’s annual statistical report released on Friday (February 17).

In 2022, 104.9 million travelers were allowed to enter and depart, more than 17 times more the 5.9 million travelers allowed to do so the previous year.

The number of travelers at land checkpoints also reached near pre-Covid-19 levels during the end-of-year school holidays last December.

Nearly 400,000 travelers passed through both Tuas and Woodlands checkpoints each day that month.

- Advertisement 2-

With the re-opening of borders, and the guarantee of international travel, many Singaporeans are also rushing to apply for passports.

This led to an unprecedented surge in passport applications, with the ICA issuing more than 1.25 million passports in 2022 compared to 300,000 passports in 2021.

ICA said that many citizens have postponed renewing their expired passports during the two-year travel ban amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

To deal with the surge, ICA deployed nearly 300 officers from other work units to process passport applications 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

To protect Singapore from those who may pose a security risk to the country, the ICA said it has progressively adopted a multi-way biometric clearance system at checkpoints.

- Advertisement 3-

Since July 2020, all automated and manual immigration lanes and counters in passenger halls at Singapore land, sea and air checkpoints have been equipped with iris and face scanners.

The figure shows that in 2022, 21 people will be detected with forged or modified travel documents. It increased by one person in 2021.

There has also been an increase in attempted smuggling at checkpoints with the reopening of the border.

In 2022, the ICA detected 35,000 cases of smuggling, up from 27,000 in 2021.

The biggest contraband seizure of 2022 took place on June 24, when ICA officers seized 37,728 cartons of unpaid cigarettes hidden in large rolls of aluminum foil in containers at the Pasir Panjang Scanning Station.

Meanwhile, the volume of cargo – including consignments, containers and packages – entering Singapore saw a decline from 10.9 million in 2021 to 9.7 million in 2022.

However, the amount of low-value goods allowed to enter increased by 41.8 percent, from 35.1 million in 2021 to 49.8 million in 2022.

The ICA said these items, including clothes and toys, were bought online. It is increasing due to the widespread use of the Internet and the convenience of online shopping.

On Friday, the agency also released figures on immigration offenders and those who shelter and employ them.

- Advertisement -spot_img