Reciprocal Use of Automated Immigration Clearance (e-Gate)
- Source：Foreign Affairs Section
With the rapid increase in number of international travels, the National Immigration Agency (NIA) deemed it necessary to develop a cooperative relationship between Taiwan and other countries on immigration clearance affairs; therefore, seeking reciprocal use of automated immigration clearance with partner countries became one of the NIA’s main missions. The purpose of this lies beyond simply bringing convenience to Taiwanese nationals, but to boost Taiwan’s economic and cultural exchange with other countries, as well as to protect the dignity and bring convenience to Taiwanese nationals while traveling abroad.
II. Content and Achievements
Immigration authorities all over the world are striving to boost convenience for travelers while simultaneously reducing the number of required personnel; as a result, implementing automated immigration clearance has become the international trend. Traditionally, immigration inspections are completed manually, with an immigration officer conducting traveler document examinations and inquiring security questions. However, this method only benefits law enforcement authorities’ needs for targeting high-risk travelers; to other low-risk and law-abiding travelers, the traditional method may be seen as inefficient and thus needs improvement.
Automated immigration clearance, or e-Gate, utilizes technology instead of people to examine travelers, the process in which includes verifying their facial images, fingerprints, and bio data stored in the electronic chip of their passports and then screening them against the security database. For most law-abiding travelers, as long as they go through the one-time e-Gate enrollment procedure, which includes verifying personal information and answering security questions, they can enjoy the benefits of e-Gate each time they go through the immigration. (For detailed enrollment requirements, please visit the NIA’s website https://www.immigration.gov.tw/5475/5478/6928/6931/184454/ ) To travelers, the e-Gate system increases the efficiency of going through immigration; to immigration authorities, the e-Gate system cuts down on the number of required personnel, which allows them to focus more on identifying high-risk travelers.
The first generation of e-Gate was introduced in 2011. In order to maximize the usage of e-Gate, the NIA started working towards seeking cooperation with partner countries in reciprocal use of e-Gate.
Many factors need to be taken into consideration before the NIA can reach a mutual agreement in the reciprocal use of e-Gate with another country: diplomatic relations, immigration regulations, and immigration system compatibility. Through overseas attachés, the NIA builds a relationship with partner counties through personnel exchanges and exchange visits to strengthen the cooperative bond, confirm technical interoperability, and to seek common ground for cooperation. Simultaneously, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, relevant memorandums of cooperation or agreements are signed with partner countries to achieve mutual benefits in the reciprocal use of automated immigration clearance.
(1) Started the reciprocal use of automated immigration clearance with the U.S.A. on November 1, 2017
(2) Started the reciprocal use of automated immigration clearance with South Korea on June 27th, 2018
(3) Started the reciprocal use of automated immigration clearance with Australia on October 4, 2018
(4) Started the reciprocal use of automated immigration clearance with Italy on September 26, 2019
In the future, the NIA will continue to seek cooperation with other countries in the reciprocal use of automated immigration clearance services to make traveling easier for Taiwanese nationals, and also to help boost Taiwan’s international tourism.