Verification begins before arrival

A traveller lands at an airport and arrives at border control. He might think the visual inspection of his travel document and appearance at the gate are the only verifications that are conducted, what he doesn’t know is that the process relies on secure electronic data, some of which was provided when he bought his ticket and some when he boarded the aircraft and began his travel.

Enabling relevant border agencies to perform risk-based targeted controls on passengers and the goods they are carrying, calls for controls that can be applied before the arrival of the passenger in the country of destination. The flow of passenger-related information from carriers (airlines) to border control authorities can be divided into two main streams: Advance Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Record (PNR).

Source: David McNew/Getty Images

API data is generated during check in. The API Guidelines were initially developed in 1993 by the WCO in cooperation with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and then the International Civil Aviation Organization joined the process and a ‘Contact Committee’ which comprised of the three organizations was formed. In order to help their respective members implement the API system, the three organizations have jointly published the WCO/IATA/ICAO Guidelines on Advance Passenger Information. The latest version of the Guidelines also address issues ‘Interactive API’, a more advanced method of passenger processing at airports.

Passenger Name Record data is generated during the booking or buying of an air ticket. Since 2010, the WCO/IATA/ICAO API Contact Committee has been working to updating the electronic reporting standards for PNR. Work related to the ‘PNRGOV’ message for reporting PNR information to government is carried out by a joint industry-government working group led by IATA, called the PNRGOV Working Group. The joint-industry government body works under the umbrella of IATA and the WCO/IATA/ICAO API Contact Committee and underscores the significant contribution of the participating governments towards the development of the PNRGOV standards.

The API Contact Committee acts as the final clearing house for any changes to the reporting standards for both API and PNR. PNRGOV standards are complementary to Doc 9944 ICAO’s guidelines on PNR, and are reflective of the consensus achieved between the WCO, IATA and ICAO on matters concerning the reporting of passenger information to governments.

The three organizations have also produced a Management Summary to provide a high-level executive brief that describes and distinguishes between the different sources and systems for passenger-related information contained in API and PNR required to be provided by international Carriers to border control agencies.

You can find ICAO’s API Guidelines and PNR reporting standards here.

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