Biometric registration: Centre relaxes norms for cruise tourists

Biometric registration: Centre relaxes norms for cruise tourists

The Shipping Ministry requested Home Ministry to exempt tourists holding e-visas from biometric enrollment in order to give them more time to spend on shore.

Foreign tourists with e-visas arriving in India on cruise ships are now exempt from registering their biometric details immediately after arrival. The Ministry of Shipping has announced that it has made the process voluntary for a span of three years, allowing tourists to register details at a time of their choosing after arrival.

In a new set of Standard Operating Procedures for cruise tourism agreed upon last year, the ministry had emphasised on a need to digitise the process of immigration checks. The new measure, announced last week, is aimed at reducing the time it takes for tourists to exit the port upon arrival. Currently, with cruise liners with at least 2,000 passengers berthing at different ports in the country, it takes an average of two minutes to process each passenger.

The Shipping Ministry requested Home Ministry to exempt tourists holding e-visas from biometric enrolment in order to give them more time to spend on shore. “This is also an important factor that helps cruise liners decide whether or not to include a destination in their itinerary,” said the Ministry of Shipping in a release.

As of now, e-visas are in place in Mumbai, Mormugao, New Mangalore, Kochi and Chennai ports. Senior officials said that the move is aimed at providing a hassle-free immigration clearance experience to tourists when they disembark from ships.

With tourists previously required to register their biometrics at the port they arrived, the ministry observed that the process exceeded the internationally accepted time of clearing cruise passengers in 90 minutes. The need for exemption was felt keeping in mind that ships with 2,000-4,000 passenger capacity are scheduled to arrive in ports during the current and next cruising season.

Sanjay Bhatia, Chairman, Mumbai Port Trust, said till 2020, tourists have been given the option of registering their biometrics with immigration authorities at a time of their choosing.

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