#Providenciales, November 20, 2018 – Turks and Caicos – Two significant signing sessions signal two giant steps for the Turks and Caicos Islands in activating the newest security measure in border control. Advanced Passenger Information System, better known as APIS is cutting edge and already over 87 million passengers worldwide have been processed using the system which aims to thwart travel by terrorists.
Now, the Turks and Caicos Islands with legislation enacted in 2017 and consultation and training started in 2018 is well positioned to embrace one of the most advanced border control security systems in the world, according to the country’s Deputy Premier, Hon Sean Astwood.
“The training workshop included the Police, Immigration Department, Airports Authority, Computer Department, Customs, Maritime and Ports Authority. External partners that have been consulted or participated in training included marine operators, cruise lines, airlines, shipping companies and freight forwarders.”
The workshops were facilitated by the Joint Regional Communication Center (JRCC) based in Barbados; the regional manager supports developing the right environment for APIS and it charts the roadmap to instituting the best international practices and engendering stakeholder synergy.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s fact sheet on APIS says it is “A new pre-departure Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) requirement allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to review passenger information prior to boarding for commercial flights arriving into or departing from the United States and for commercial vessels destined for or departing the United States.”
On Monday, Turks and Caicos Border Control Minister, Deputy Premier Sean Astwood announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the TCI and the United Kingdom which will permit information exchange with CARICOM, which as a group is agreed to sign onto APIS.
“With the signing of this MOU, the United Kingdom Government formally grants consent to the TCI for the sharing of intelligence among Member States of the Caribbean Community. This morning, I am proud again to state that the signing of this memorandum is a significant and important step to achieving and realizing the full implementation in the APIS in the Turks and Caicos Islands and by extension, improved security for our region.”
The DP explained that APIS, essentially allows Border Control to focus on more high risk passengers and will actually speed up border security processing for low risk travellers.
It was in May 2017 that Deputy Premier Astwood signed the first commitment of the Turks and Caicos to APIS; it was a pioneering step for Caribbean region OTs.
“…making the Turks and Caicos Islands the first CARICOM Associate Member country amongst the six British Overseas Territories to sign onto the Advanced Passenger Information System, the signing marked an historic occasion as the Turks and Caicos embarked upon a path of modernizing our boarder security regime through the cooperation between the United States of America and Caribbean counterparts.”
DP Sean Astwood flanked by the Governor, Premier and officials representing the Royal Turks and Caicos Police, Customs and Immigration Departments expects APIS to add to increased hospitality at the airports in particular.
“This would add value to the processing of our tourists and allow us to maximize our staff at the airport in particular and improve guest experience,” said the Deputy Premier who also explained that APIS would build an invisible but tangible information bridge between border control agencies namely: Immigration, Customs, Police, Agriculture and Health and Safety making processing smarter and faster.
“Different agencies frequently operate their own automated systems for passenger processing without any sharing of information. This strict division of responsibility between the agencies means that passenger processing is often unnecessarily prolonged. APIS will bridge and consolidate critical information that can be shared between agencies.”
At the Office of the Premier in Providenciales, the MOU was signed by His Excellency, Dr. John Freeman who is the UK appointed Governor and Premier of the islands, Hon Sharlene Robinson.