If we want to have free-flowing travel, we have to harmonize our processes

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Recent global circumstances have driven advancements in technologies and the digitization of various processes, fostering improved interactions between passengers and border authorities. The deployment of these cutting-edge technologies has played a crucial role in empowering authorities to enhance their border control measures. The upcoming Symposium and Exhibition on the ICAO Traveller Identification Programme (TRIP) will serve as a platform for States and organizations to share insights on the best practices, specifications, and technical mechanisms for the successful application and utilization of biometrics.

States and the wider stakeholder community have invested significantly in seamless and contactless passenger processing for years. The importance of these efforts has grown, particularly in responding to increased traveller volumes post-pandemic. To address security risks, the air industry, border control authorities, and travel document issuing agencies seek more efficient and secure ways to identify and process travellers. The TRIP Symposium aims to integrate technology with the TRIP Strategy elements, leveraging emerging technologies to maximize the benefits of digital representation. During this event we work to enhance international cooperation and collaboration to facilitate travellers’ journeys while addressing the multiple threats faced by international civil aviation. Various sessions will take place that focus on promoting the global regulatory framework established by the provisions of Annex 9 – Facilitation to the Convention on International Civil Aviation. The Symposium will also highlight the new technology tools available on the market that can improve the passenger experience.

This is the 19th gathering of this world-class event and it is set to take place from 13-15 November 2024 at ICAO Headquarters in Montréal. The event provides an essential forum for exchanging information on all aspects of traveller identification management. During the Symposium we host an a exhibition that features a broad range of products and services related to travel document security applications, health proofs emission and authentication, border inspection and automated border control systems, and identification management.

While the detailed Symposium programme is being finalized, we can share the outline for it here. We are going to be focussing on advancing Machine Readable Travel Documents (MRTD) technologies to enhance seamless traveller mobility. Emphasizing innovation and technology leverage, discussions will explore strategies to enhance electronic Machine Readable Travel Document (eMRTD) solutions for contactless travel processes. Key digital solutions, including ICAO Digital Travel Credentials (DTC), Digital Travel Authorization (DTA), Visible Digital Seals (VDS) for globally interoperable DTA, will be highlighted. The session aims to improve border management, travel facilitation, and security, with a specific focus on travel document and identity management, crucial for international travellers, including migrants and refugees crossing borders. Subsequent sessions will delve into topics related to the five TRIP elements, as follows:

  • Evidence of identity: Today we live in an interconnected world through mobile phones and the internet. Both technology and generational changes are likely to have an impact on how legal identity could be packaged and shared in the future. Smartphones are able to verify physical identity using biometrics stored in central civil registry eco systems. Automation allows for credible evidence of identity involving the tracing and verification of identity against breeder documents to ensure the authenticity of identity.
  • Machine Readable Travel Documents (MRTDs): The future generation of travel documents will introduce the ability to substitute a conventional passport with a digital representation of the traveller’s identity. This identity can be validated by using the travel document issuing authority’s public key infrastructure. This Digital Travel Credential (DTC) has been standardized, which provides enhanced benefits to expedite inspection while also enhancing security by enabling immigration officers to quickly and efficiently check the traveller prior to their arrival welcoming bona fide travellers, and taking appropriate measures against individuals who pose a threat.
  • Document issuance and control: The digitization of traditional paper-based processes is the new trend. Electronic visa travel systems, secure credentials on mobile phones and biometrics can simplify international
    travel as they eliminate the need to carry a physical passport or obtain paper-based visas. Appropriate authorities and/or issuing authorities are moving towards centralized, thoroughly modernized systems for document
    issuance with an aim to better utilize the technologies that are available, including electronic verification of the passport and biometric identification capture, automation through borders via e-gates or kiosks, and eVisa
    application, issuance and usage to better manage the flow and tracking of the authorized holders, while ensuring that controls are in place to prevent theft, tampering and loss.
  • Inspection systems and tools: Inspection systems and tools for the efficient and secure reading and verification of MRTDs and eMRTDs, including use of the ICAO Public Key Directory (PKD) and increased implementation of the Automated Border Control (ABC) gates.
  • Interoperable applications: Combining ePassport data, biometric recognition, PKD and the use of ABCs opens the possibility of automating partially or fully the passenger identification process through the traveller’s journey. This is made possible thanks to globally interoperable applications and protocols that provide for timely, secure and reliable linkage of MRTDs and their holders to available and relevant data in the course of inspection operations. There will be a special focus on advance passenger information (API) and passenger name record (PNR) data.

Who should attend this event?

  • Passport issuing offices, civil registries offices, border control and law enforcement agencies, immigration and customs agencies, aircraft operators, airport authorities, health authorities, ministries of interior, foreign affairs, justice, as well as embassy consular staff.
  • International Organizations, donor agencies, private companies offering technologies and products for effective international identification and border management.
  • Airlines and airport authorities, aviation security and travel facilitation consultants, academia, and think tanks.

Make sure to check the event website for updates on the Symposium!