Self-service passport control comes to Sea-Tac Airport

A traveler scans a passport at Vancouver International Airport
Fourteen new self-service Automated Passport Control kiosks have been installed at Sea-Tac airport to speed up the customs entry process for U.S. and Canadian citizens returning from international destinations.

 Sea-Tac is the fifth U.S. airport to get the scanners (others are Chicago's O'Hare, New York's JFK, Miami Internatonal and Dallas/Fort Worth) which travelers can use at no charge to scan their passports and answer customs declarations questions. 

Click here to see a video on how the new system works

Instead of filling out a declaration card and taking their travel documents to a customs officer, passengers can proceed directly to a self-service kiosk to scan their passports and answer customs questions using a touch screen.

 "They receive a print out with a photo (the computer takes the photo) and take that to an officer,'' says Seattle Customs and  Boarder Protection spokesman Mike Milne.

Unlike members of Global Entry and Nexus, the U.S. and Canadian quick-pass boarder crossing programs that require fees ($100 for Global Entry, $50 for Nexus) and fingerprinting, those using the new kiosks will still have to have their paperwork checked by a customs officer, but wait times will be reduced, say officials, because travelers will spend 30-40 seconds electronically inputting info themselves that an officer now gathers in person.

The first kiosks were installed at Vancouver International Airport in May. They are also in place in Toronto and Montreal. 

The new system should ease back-ups caused by a recent increase in international flights (Airlines now serve 19 international cities). Sea-Tac is building a new international clearing facility to accommodate the growth.

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