Facial Biometrics Introduced at Port of San Diego by U.S. Customs, Princess Cruise Line

Image: U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), in partnership with Princess Cruises, expanded the use of facial biometrics into the debarkation process at the Port of San Diego, becoming the latest seaport to modernize efforts to revolutionize cruise travel.

“As cruise travel resumes around our nation’s ports, it is increasingly important to implement this technology and safely restart cruising, a vital sector of the US travel economy,” Jennifer De La O, CBP Director of Field Operations in San Diego, said. “With the biometric facial comparison process, travelers have the benefit of secure, touchless and streamlined entry procedures into the United States.”

When debarking the cruise vessel at a U.S. seaport, passengers will pause for a photo that will be compared to the traveler’s existing passport or visa photo in secure DHS systems to biometrically verify his/her identity. Once verified, passengers are allowed to proceed through inspections and exit the terminal.

“This innovative entry process further secures and enhances the customer experience while protecting the privacy of all travelers,” CBP said in a statement. “The improved arrival process using facial biometrics verifies the traveler’s identity within two seconds and is more than 98% accurate.”

U.S. travelers and select foreign nationals who aren’t required to provide biometrics and wish to opt out of the new biometric process can simply request a manual document check, according to Customs.

To date, facial biometric comparison technology is available at 16 seaports across the United States and has been successfully used to process arriving passengers on cruise vessels in California, Washington, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Maryland and Puerto Rico, CBP said. 

Currently, more than 240 million travelers have participated in the biometric facial comparison process at air, land, and seaports of entry. As of November 2022, CBP has leveraged facial biometrics to prevent more than 1,600 impostors using genuine travel documents from illegally entering the United States at air and land ports of entry.

More information on CBP’s use of biometric facial comparison technology to secure and streamline the arrival and departure process can be found on the CBP website: https://biometrics.cbp.gov/.