Taiwan will launch automated immigration gates, known as e-gates, in January 2012 at three major airports.

The airports are Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Taipei Songshan Airport and Kaohsiung International Airport.

According to National Immigration Agency (NIA) officials, the e-gates will help reduce long lines and speed up passenger clearance at immigration control areas to roughly 12 seconds per person.

Using the e-gates involves two steps: scanning the passenger’s passport; and verification of biometric data.

Equipped with infrared ray sensors, facial-recognition cameras and passport readers, the unmanned gates will verify the biometric data of passengers who pass through them.

Immigration officers will be able to screen passenger information in advance using the e-gates, which will operate in conjunction with the NIA’s advance passenger information system; the system was launched on a trial basis in September 2011.

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Approximately 130,000 people registered during the trial run, and this is expected to reach one million by the end of 2012.

Automated counters have been set up at the airports to enable people with a valid passport or another recognised form of identification to register using the system.

Passenger information from airlines after check-in will be fed to the NIA so that agency officials can track suspicious travellers.

The system will help Taiwan strengthen its border security, which in turn could be conducive to the country’s inclusion in the US Visa Waiver Program.

The NIA has already invested TWD1.5bn ($50.62m) in installing the latest integrated information systems for border control to enhance the security.