Full implementation of biometric data capturing by mid-2016

All international travellers arriving at SA’s ports of entry will submit biometric data when the system has been rolled out.

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) began its pilot programme of capturing biometric data at South Africa’s international airports earlier this month and plans to have biometric machines implemented at every port of entry by July or August 2016.

This is despite the fact that the DHA undertook the taking of biometrics and photos of travellers within three months of the inter-ministerial committee’s recommendations, which were released at the end of October.

Spokesperson for the DHA, Mayihlome Tshwete, told Tourism Update that DHA would implement biometric machines at four ports of entry every month, prioritising the ports of entry that handled the highest volume of passengers.

The biometric machines were currently not at all arrival and transit counters at OR Tambo International Airport, King Shaka International Airport and Cape Town International Airport as the project was still being tested, said Tshwete.

He said biometrics were currently only being taken from international transit passengers during the busy December period at OR Tambo, as the volume of passengers was too high. Tshwete added that by early next year, once the peak period ended, all international passengers would be submitting biometric data at OR Tambo.

Amy Thompson, Acsa Customer Care Supervisor: Viewing Deck and Social Media at OR Tambo International Airport, confirmed that the pilot project was still being tested at the airport. She told Tourism Update that biometrics were only being taken at transit counters on selective travellers at the airport and that biometrics were only expected to be permanently enabled at all transit and arrival counters by the beginning of next year.

Biometric data was being captured at Lanseria International Airport, confirmed Claudette Vianello, Marketing, Media and PR Manager for Lanseria.

Biometric data was also currently being captured from transit passengers at Cape Town International Airport, said Tshwete. “From mid-December, the biometric project will be officially launched at Cape Town International Airport and we will speak to Operations about launching at King Shaka International Airport.”

When the project was fully implemented, all international travellers would submit biometric data at the arrival and transit counters at SA’s international airports, regardless of whether or not they needed a visa to enter SA, he said.