Border controls at Airports and Seaports

The need for watertight border security is undeniable. States need to stop terrorists and criminals from crossing their borders. They must also fight illegal immigration as well as the illicit traffic in people and goods. More recently, the spread of pandemics such as COVID-19 and SARS, has added health controls to these priorities. Recognizing the seriousness of these problems, Annex 9 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, published in October 2017, made it mandatory for countries to have an API (Advance Passenger Information) system in place.

border controls

Border controls at Air and Seaports in EU countries are mandatory.


Passenger screening

Since 2018, each country that is part of the UN must operate an API system. So before traveling, air passengers must provide carriers with biographic data related to identity. Border agencies and law enforcement officials in the destination country will then screen this information for security clearance. The API data includes first (given) name and last (family) name, gender, date of birth, nationality, place of birth, type of travel document, its issuance- and expiry date, and the country of issuance.

Passenger screening has to take place at all points of entry and border crossings. Not just at airports, but at seaports too. Screening poses a significant challenge for border management. So using its identity and security expertise, WCC produced HERMES. A flexible API/PNR solution for processing passenger data. A system designed specially to meet the security requirements of all law enforcement agencies, regardless of size.

Border control challenges

Globalization has led to a marked increase in the number of people traveling, so large volumes of passenger data need to be processed. Airlines alone fly almost 4.2 billion passengers per year. However, challenges are not limited to the quantity of data. They also extend to security-related challenges like the prevention of human trafficking, drug smuggling, and terrorism. As well as identifying travelers on wanted lists, while at the same time preventing the detention of innocent citizens. These challenges are made even more difficult by the processing time allowed. This can be as low as 10 seconds in some countries.

Millions of people also travel each year by sea, on cruise ships or ferries. In some European countries, for example, thousands of passengers arrive daily by sea from bordering countries outside the Schengen area. So security checks at sea borders are just as essential as at airports. Indeed, criminals and terrorists often favor sea routes as they believe the risk of detection is lower.

Watch lists & risk assessment

Regardless of whether travel is by sea or air, border agencies need to match all passengers against national and international watch lists. Then assess the risk of each passenger. If a passenger hits on a watch list or represents a high risk, officials must then decide what action to take.

The HERMES solution

WCC has the technology and know-how to help tackle such challenges and to satisfy the requirements involved. Also, WCC understands the legal issues associated with implementing an API system, as well as international standards and security needs. With this in mind, WCC developed HERMES, explicitly designed to help countries process large quantities of passenger data. An out-of-the-box solution, HERMES, can be installed quickly and is easy to use and maintain. It has been successfully deployed at airports worldwide, as well as at some sea borders in Europe. As a result, WCC has gained exceptional experience in processing the different data structures and formats received from air carriers and sealines.


HERMES uses the advanced Smart Search and Match technology found in WCC’s ELISE software. It is, therefore, a future-proof solution that supports API, as well as Interactive API (iAPI). In other words, passenger data provides opportunities for governments to communicate a real-time response to carriers based on the vetting of results. HERMES also supports PNR (Passenger Name Records). PNR comprises personal data about a passenger or group of passengers traveling together, for example, their itinerary. Other HERMES features include multicultural name matching capabilities, and a full range of watch list and risk assessment features. And of course, it complies with WCO/IATA/ICAO standards.

Like to know more?

The screening of air passengers is often the main focus of border control agencies. But countries are increasingly aware that checks at their sea borders are equally important to keep travelers safe. WCC can offer a fast and reliable solution for both scenarios. If you would like more information, our ID and security experts can set up a call.

Article by: Amr el Rahwan
Published on: May 10, 2020

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