Bureau of Immigration prepares Digitization of Arrival Cards for Passenger Monitoring due to COVID-19

Bureau of Immigration prepares Digitization of Arrival Cards for Passenger Monitoring due to COVID-19

MANILA, Philippines—Bureau of Immigration (BI) frontliners stationed in the different international ports are preparing to implement digitized arrival cards and records for more effective passenger monitoring, amid the continuing outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was revealed by BI Commissioner Jaime Morente after President Duterte informed Congress that the BI will soon launch an advanced passenger processing and information system and use digitized arrival cards and boarding passes for international passengers entering and exiting our ports.

“These new paperless travel control systems and procedures are just among several innovative protocols that we will be introducing under a new normal environment during this pandemic,” Morente said in a statement.

The BI chief explained that the new protocols are designed not only to achieve social distancing by lessening person-to-person contact between officers and passengers, but also to facilitate contact tracing, if needed.

“While the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) collects information from arriving passengers for contact tracing, we have extended our help by providing other details that are found in our arrival cards,” said Morente. “These information have proven to be helpful in locating persons that need to be monitored,” he stated.

Morente added that the BI is discussing with different airlines the mechanics and procedures for implementing the said initiatives so these could become operational as soon as possible.

“This is one of our administration’s priority projects, as this would not only help in contact tracing, but would also allow our port operations to more effectively monitor and screen arriving foreign nationals,” shared Morente. “Said system is being used by many developed countries, which we can also adopt and use in our fight against COVID-19,” he said.

According to BI Port Operations Division chief Grifton Medina, the digitized arrival cards will be filled out by Philippine-bound passengers at their port of origin prior to their departure for the Philippines.

“This would enable us to easily track details of a passenger as the data will be integrated and sorted in our system,” said Medina. “Should information be needed for contact tracing, we wouldn’t have to manually dig into boxes of arrival cards which take up precious time. With one click, we would be able to provide the data faster to contact tracers,” he shared.

He stressed that the move to dispense with paper-based arrival cards aims to reduce objects that may possibly transmit infectious agents from a passenger to the officers.

Medina added that they are likewise pushing that airlines use QR or bar codes in a passenger’s mobile phone or device as their boarding pass, which will also be integrated into the BI’s system.

You will have some problems with an old but well working cellphone – Digitization of Arrival Cards.

“This will create a fully paperless transaction during immigration assesment, reduce the risk of transmission, and allow for more efficient monitoring,” he said.