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Immigration bureau gearing up for paperless travel procedures in new normal

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is gearing up for paperless travel procedures to lessen person-to-person contact at ports and aid in contact tracing in a "new normal" brought about by COVID-19.

Immigration frontliners stationed at international ports are preparing to implement digitized arrival cards and records for "more effective" passenger monitoring, the bureau said in a statement on Wednesday.

Immigration chief Jaime Morente said they have assisted the Bureau of Quarantine by providing details in the arrival cards, information that "have proven to be helpful in locating persons that need to be monitored."

Port Operations Division chief Grifton Medina said the digitized arrival cards are to be filled out by passengers bound for the Philippines before they leave for the country.

“This would enable us to easily track details of a passenger as the data will be integrated and sorted in our system,” Medina said in the statement. 

“Should information be needed for contact tracing, we wouldn’t have to manually dig into boxes of arrival cards which take up precious time.  With one click, we would be able to provide the data faster to contact tracers,” he said.

The official added they are also encouraging airlines to use QR or bar codes in a passenger's phone or device as their boarding pass to create a "fully paperless" transaction during immigration assessment.

He said this would both reduce the risk of transmission and allow for more efficient monitoring.

The BI is discussing mechanics and procedures of the initiatives with airlines so they could be implemented as soon as possible, Morente said.—AOL, GMA News