The Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) is used to improve security in air travel, and is utilized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The APIS is a pre-departure requirement that enables the DHS to review passenger information, evaluating it for security risks before permitting passengers to board. Whenever passengers attempt to board flights that enter or leave the United States, APIS comes into play; this is also used for commercial shipping and sailing to or from the United States.
The APIS works with Passenger Name Record (PNR) data. When implemented correctly, APIS has the power to help prevent terrorist threats, and help law enforcement organizations all over the world stop persons of interest from boarding international flights.
APIS functions as an electronic system that transfers data from one source to another, and it's used by countries all over the world. Airlines typically use it to transfer information on passengers to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), including those passengers' names, genders and country of passport issuance. It was originally developed in 2005, and is still widely recognized; its first year on record, CBP was able to process information on 88 million passengers.
Methods of Data Transmission
Pre-departure, carriers have the option to use one of two main transmission methods of APIS data:
- Quick Query mode. In Quick Query mode, carriers are able to transfer data on each passenger as they check in prior to boarding the aircraft, in real time.
- APIS Batch transmission. In this mode, carriers must transfer data from all passengers on the manifest 30 minutes prior to departure. Departure is defined as the moment the aircraft doors are secured (previously, it referred to a moment of "pushback" from the gate.) This method can be interactive or non-interactive.
Passengers are not permitted onboard the aircraft until they've been given approval by CBP.
CBP and carriers work together to ensure this data transfer process is as quick, convenient, and secure as possible. All forms of transmission meet current standards for privacy and data security, so you can rest assured that your information is being processed responsibly.
What Does APIS Mean for You?
If you're traveling from the U.S. to a foreign country, you will likely be asked to provide your passenger information before departure. Depending on the carrier you're using and current conditions, you'll likely be able to handle this process online.
Note that this process is differentiated from travel visas and travel clearances from immigration authorities. You'll likely need to undergo many different checks and clearances before traveling.
Other Tips for Getting Through Airport Security
Airport security can be tough to get through, so here are some additional tips that can make it easier:
- Familiarize yourself with current requirements. There are many rules and regulations to learn before attempting to get through airport security, so familiarize yourself with them before you leave. For example, you should know which travel documents are required to get through security, and what types of luggage you're allowed to carry on. Be sure you're not attempting to bring on prohibited items, including liquids above a certain volume.
- Wear easily removable clothes. TSA may ask you to remove your shoes, belt, and other items during your personal screening. You can make this easier on yourself by wearing shoes, socks, and other items that are easy to remove and put back on.
- Choose lines wisely. No matter what, you'll have to stand in line, but you might have control over which lines you stand in. Pay attention to not only how many people are in each line, but who those people are and how the lines are moving. For example, a line with a handful of individual businesspeople will probably move faster than a line full of families with young children.
- Consider expedited clearance. You may be able to get expedited clearance for an additional fee. If you're in a hurry, it may be worth the extra money.
Like many other modern features of airports and air travel, APIS is designed to keep you safer. Following best practices and complying with all requirements can help you travel more conveniently while maximizing security for everyone involved.
Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer, and researcher. A graduate of Iowa State University, he's now a full-time freelance writer and business consultant. Currently, Larry writes for Entrepreneur.com, Inc.com, and Forbes.com, among others. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he's also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing. Follow him on Twitter (@LarryAlton3), at LinkedIn.com/in/larryalton, and on his website, LarryAlton.com. Read Larry Alton's Reports — More Here.
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