Automatic departure gates now available to tourists at Japanese airports

This is Stephanie of IMS.

Since late 2017, Japanese nationals have been able to use facial recognition technology at unmanned gates when entering and leaving Japan via major airports. And now, short-term visitors to Japan will have the same option, skipping the winding immigration lines–at least for their departure. Haneda Airport will lead the change: it will allow foreign visitors to complete their exit procedures via these unmanned gates beginning July 24, while other major airports in Chiba, Osaka, Fukuoka, Aichi, Hokkaido and Okinawa prefectures plan to implement them by next summer. These gates will not require pre-registration.

At the moment, this option will only be available to foreign travelers on a tourist visa, up to 3 months validity. Non-Japanese residents with mid- and long-term visas will be unable to use these gates, as their exit procedures are a little more involved and require immigration officers to verify their residence status.

These departure gates use facial recognition technology to scan faces and compare the image to the one that’s in the traveler’s passport. If the two match, then the gates will open. Those who want their passport stamped will be able to request an exit stamp at a customs post before boarding procedures.

The Immigration Services Agency is hoping this will smooth and shorten some of the lines, especially at a time when Japan is preparing to welcome millions more visitors between now and the Olympic games in 2020.