Automated border control at Brussels Airport

EU-citizens arriving from a non-Schengen country at Brussels Airport can henceforth have their identity verified digitally. To this end, the federal police has opened six automated border control gates at Brussels Airport, in the presence of Interior and Security Minister Jan Jambon and State Secretary for Asylum and Migration Theo Francken. The automated border control gates will allow arriving passengers at Brussels Airport to proceed through border control more swiftly.

All passengers at Brussels Airport who travel to or arrive from a non-Schengen country, such as Morocco or the USA, have to go through border control. The federal police will check whether their identity matches that on the identity papers and whether the travel documents they carry are authentic.

As of today, this verification can also happen digitally for arriving EU-citizens at the 6 e-gates in Pier B. These e-gates are automated border control gates where the verification is done digitally based on several parameters. In a later stage these e-gates will also be installed for departing passengers.

“Due to the e-gates the flow of passengers arriving from a non-Schengen country to the baggage reclaim area will be much smoother, both for the EU citizens who will use the e-gates as for the non-EU citizens whose identity will be checked manually as there will be fewer passengers using the traditional control posts”, says Arnaud Feist, CEO of Brussels Airport.

How does automated border control work?
The passenger walks through the entrance gate and inserts their identity card or passport into the slit provided for this purpose. There are two slits: European passports are to be inserted in the lower slit, Belgian identity cards in the upper slit. As it happens, the two documents use a different digital technology.

“That the digital identity verification also works with a Belgian identity card is a first. The federal police and Brussels Airport chose to include his extra feature to allow Belgians who travel with only their identity card to pass border control more quickly”, says General Commissioner of the Belgian Federal Police Catherine De Bolle.

The advanced software system verifies three parameters. Firstly, is the identity document authentic or forged? At the same time a police check of the identity of the passenger is carried out. A last check is based on face recognition whereby the photograph on the chip of the identity document is compared to a digital photo which was made at the e-gate.

If the evaluation of all three parameters is positive, the exit gates of the e-gate opens and the passenger can proceed to the baggage reclaim area. A police official who supervises the e-gates can swiftly react if anything untoward occurs e.g. when the gates do not open.

As soon as the passenger leaves the e-gate the system checks whether any items were left behind so the passenger can be called back.

At the moment, only EU citizens are able to use the automated border control gates because non-EU citizens are subject to other entry conditions. The check of their identity documents will be carried out manually as before.

The installation of the e-gates at Brussels Airport is a joint investment by the Federal Police and Brussels Airport with the financial support of the European External Borders Fund. This fund aims to financially support member states who manage and control the external borders of the EU.