Minister Flanagan announces contract for the introduction of Automatic Border Control Gates (e-Gates)

New measure should help to enhance security, while also speeding up passage through the immigration process

August 6th, 2017

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, has today (Sunday August 6th, 2017) confirmed the signing of a national framework contract for the supply and installation of Automatic Border Control ‘e-Gates’ at the Irish State’s ports of entry.

The contract was awarded by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) to the Lisbon-based Vision-Box, who are partnering with Accenture and ESP Global Systems. The contract was awarded following an open EU Tender Competition, managed by the Office of Government Procurement and INIS, and supported by the Chief State Solicitor’s Office and the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA).

The first phase of the project will see the installation of 20 e-Gates at Dublin Airport (10 gates each in Terminal 1 and Terminal 2). Additional e-Gates may be installed at Dublin Airport and at other ports of entry, should it make operational and financial sense to do so.

Welcoming the contract signing, Minister Flanagan said, “Following a very thorough pilot programme and competitive tender, I believe that we’ve found a solution that matches our goals and requirements. We look forward to working with Vision-Box, through the award of this framework agreement. The introduction of e-Gates will greatly enhance our immigration controls, including our border security, while at the same time providing an improved passenger experience through self-service and speedier passage through the immigration process.”  

Irish and other EU travellers over 18 years with e-Passports and holders of the Irish Passport Card may use the e-Gates. Following the first phase of the project INIS will examine the scope for extending their use to non–EU passport holders, to allow easier entry for regular visitors such as business travellers, etc. If this is implemented, it would be done along the lines of registered traveller programmes which operate in some other jurisdictions.

The e-Gates will add capacity to the immigration service at a time of increasing passenger growth. In 2016 the immigration services at Dublin airport processed a record 13.8 million arriving passengers. Passenger numbers at Dublin airport have grown by 46% over the last 5 years, with record numbers again expected for 2017.

The gates will provide highly secure automated passport validation and security checks on passengers, by using advanced facial recognition technology and integration with national and international watch lists. 

Minister Flanagan also said, “The use of automated technologies is a critical element in the overall strategy to enhance border security. This project is part of that wider strategy by INIS, which includes the introduction of systems such as, Advance Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Recognition (PNR). It will also include automated checking of Interpol’s Lost and Stolen Travel Document databases”.  
The e-Gates will be fully installed and operational at Dublin Airport before the end of the year. 


Note for Editors 

An e-Gate system uses a passport reader and camera, to perform immigration checks. An immigration officer always monitors the operation of the e-Gates. A single immigration officer can monitor several e-Gates at the same time thus facilitating a higher throughput of passengers and shorter queuing times. The gates work by electronically checking the authenticity of biometric passports and checking that the holder’s facial features match those contained on the passport’s electronic chip.

To use the e-Gates, a person must have a ‘chipped’ biometric Irish (or Irish passport card), EU, EEA or Swiss passport. These e-Passports have the biometric logo on the front cover.

A number of other projects are also under way to utilise automated systems to assist in border security.  This includes the implementation of Advance Passenger Information (API) systems and following on this, the introduction of Passenger Name Recognition (PNR) systems in accordance with the EU PNR Directive. 

In November, 2016 the systematic checks of the INTERPOL Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) began at airports/ports of entry to State. These checks are an important development in securing the border and are undertaken at all international ports of entry to the State. It is also a requirement of our participation in the US Visa Waiver Programme and a key component of checks undertaken by other EU Member States at their external borders. 

Since 30 November, 2016 to date approximately 5.5 million travel documents have been searched, with a number of people having been refused entry to Ireland on the basis of an alert on the system having been triggered.
It is expected that the civilianisation of frontline immigration checks at Dublin Airport will be completed in the autumn of 2017. Currently, civilian immigration officers have full responsibility for passport checks at Terminal 1 and the Transit area of Terminal 2.

Explanatory Note

Advance Passenger Information (API) refers to a passenger’s identity DETAILS such as full name, date of birth and nationality typically obtained from travel documents such as passports (“interactive API”); 

Passenger Name Records (PNR) that are collected by airlines from passengers solely for their business purposes. PNRs normally contain several different types of information, such as travel dates, travel itinerary, ticket information, contact details, travel agent at which the flight was booked, means of payment used, seat number and baggage information. The data is stored in the airlines' reservation and departure control.

Passenger data such as API is used for border protection purposes to identify person of interest in advance of travel and in respect of PNR for identification of travel patterns for criminal investigation purposes.