August 05, 2019
LAW enforcement officials in the TCI are now equipped with the technology to know in advance whether potential or known offenders are travelling to the territory.
The Ministry of Immigration, Citizenship, Labour and Employment officially activated the long-awaited Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) on June 1.
Minister Hon. Vaden Delroy Williams, in statement on June 28 said APIS will help to improve and enhance border security in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
APIS is an automated system established for aviation and maritime operators which has the capability of boost border security throughout the region.
It supplies law enforcement officers with data on passengers and crew members prior to arrival and departure from Caricom member states, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.
APIS has been hailed regionally as a significant system in border protection and modernising border security through cooperation agreements between the US and Caribbean counterparts.
On May 24, 2017, the territory signed a MOU between the United States of America (USA) and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
However, the Turks and Caicos Islands Government was awaiting the consent of the United Kingdom before activating the system.
On November 19, 2018, Governor John Freeman and former minister of immigration Hon. Sean Astwood ratified the MOU.
According to Williams, APIS will allow the TCI to benefit in several aspects including: "Details of arriving/departing passengers are received prior to the arrival of the flight.
"Prior to departure, law enforcement officials know in advance whether potential or known offenders or inadmissible persons are travelling.
"Adequate time to utilise resources more efficiently, thereby reducing workload through the use of technology and automated means.
"Improved efficiency at immigration counters, hence improving the important tourism experience at our air and seaports.”
Minister Williams stressed that the introduction of APIS presents the TCI with capabilities for transmission of passenger details to the point of destination well in advance of the passengers’ arrival.
He said: "This is a very positive step towards achieving both facilitation and compliance goals.
"The TCI will use APIS as a decision-making tool that immigration and customs primarily can employ before a passenger is permitted to board an aircraft.
"The Ministry of Immigration, Citizenship, labour and Employment Service would like to thank all stakeholders for their support in making this important project a reality.
"Special thanks to our regional partner, Joint Regional Communication Centre, team at the Computer Information Technology Unit and special recognition to Senior Immigration Latoya Mitchell, project leader.”
APIS was established by the US Customs Border Protection (CBP) in May 2009 and was expected to be fully operational in the TCI by September 2017. (By Olivia Rose)