July 12th, 2006 09:30 EST
DHS Proposes Information Sharing Improvements to Prevent Terrorists from Boarding Flights Bound for U.S.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today a rule proposing a pre-departure Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) requirement. This requirement will allow DHS to collect passenger information for flights and cruises bound for the United States prior to their departure from foreign ports. The advance transmission of this information will provide DHS time to identify potential threats, then coordinate with airlines and foreign law enforcement to block a suspect person from boarding or remove them before the plane leaves the ground. APIS data includes passenger information that would be found on the front of a passport, such as full name, gender, and country of passport issuance.
“Our priority is to keep terrorists out of the United States by preventing them from boarding international flights. Receiving APIS data before a plane takes off is another layer of security that allows us to identify terrorists before they are en route to the United States. This rule will also help eliminate the inconvenience of flight diversions due to security concerns,” said Secretary Michael Chertoff. “We appreciate the airline industry’s efforts in working with us to strengthen the security of air travel and fulfill this Congressional mandate.”
A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) will be published in the Federal Register on July 13, 2006, providing two options for air carriers and one option for sea carriers to meet the pre-departure APIS transmission requirements. One of the transmission options, APIS Quick Query (currently developed for air travel), allows international air carriers to submit manifest information interactively up to 15 minutes prior to departure. The second option, APIS-60, requires the complete manifest information be submitted to CBP 60 minutes prior to departure, and will be available for air and sea carriers.
Prior to 9/11, the U.S. Customs Service, now part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) received advance passenger information from air and sea carriers on a voluntary basis. In 2004, as part of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA), Congress mandated that CBP establish a requirement to receive advance information on international passengers traveling by air and sea, prior to their departure.
CBP already requires the transmission of APIS data for commercial carriers arriving in or departing from the United States. The announcement of a pre-departure requirement simply changes the time within which the APIS data must be transmitted.
CBP and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have worked closely with international carriers in the development of these options. Extensive discussions have been conducted between CBP and air and vessel carriers to identify best practices, ensure both carrier and CBP systems are communicating properly, and to ensure the highest level of privacy protection.
A Final Rule will be issued after a 30-day public comment period has closed and the submitted comments have been reviewed and analyzed. There is no change in the data elements or formats currently required under the APIS Final Rule published on April 7, 2005.
The text of the proposed rule is available on CBP’s website
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary