New e-Gates at Kaohsiung airport to help foreign travelers

Taipei, July 6 (CNA) Two new e-Gates have begun a trial run at Kaohsiung International Airport, Taiwan's second largest airport, to speed up immigration clearance for foreign travelers to Taiwan, the National Immigration Agency said Wednesday.

The trial run, which started July 1 and is expected to last until the end of the year, is a response to the growing number of foreign visitors to the country, the agency said. The new e-Gates at the Kaohsiung airport are for the exclusive use of short-term overseas visitors aged 14 and above -- including those from China, Hong Kong and Macau -- enabling them to clear immigration automatically when they leave the country.

Foreign travelers do not have to apply for the service, but they do need to leave their fingerprints when they enter Taiwan to be eligible to use it when they depart. The e-Gate system, which was launched at Taiwan's major airports for Taiwanese citizens in 2011 and foreign residents in 2012, is a fully automated immigration system that can save a lot of time for passengers when leaving or arriving in the country. That system processes an average of 30,000 entries and exits a day, the agency said.

The e-Gates installed at the Kaohsiung airport are the first ones in Taiwan that cater to non-resident foreign travelers. After the trial run in Kaohsiung, the new service will be expanded to other major airports in Taiwan, including Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the country's main gateway, starting early next year, the agency said.

The new service is expected to be fully established at all major airports in Taiwan by the end of 2018, it added. In addition to expediting immigration clearance, the new initiative will also help strengthen Taiwan's border security, the agency said.

(By Claudia Liu and Elaine Hou)