On many international flights, before landing, the crew will walk through the cabin offering landing cards to anyone who needs to complete them. These are a slip of paper where passengers enter their details such as name, passport number, origin, reason for trip and customs declarations.
Those passengers will then hand the landing card to the immigration officer when they land (along with their passport).
In my experience, some airports will study these landing cards carefully, while others barely look at them and they get tossed onto a large pile, and may never actually be read. I sometimes have trouble even reading my own writing scrawled into those tiny boxes, so I don’t know how anyone else does!
Australia used to also have annoying outgoing passenger cards which were eventually axed after Australian airports admitted that they were not even read, and the required information was already being given to each airport by airlines as part of the flight manifests anyway.
Singapore’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority is trialling electronic landing cards, which are intended to eventually replace the paper landing cards currently used.
The trial is commencing on October 4 and running for three months, but don’t panic if you are flying soon — The Business Times is reporting that the trial will only initially apply to those passengers who haven’t completed a paper card when they reach the immigration checkpoint. Rather than asking these passengers to complete the paper card before proceeding through immigration, they will be invited to participate in the trial instead.
The information to be entered will not change.
The trial will be conducted at air, land and sea checkpoints into Singapore, most notably at Singapore Changi Airport and Singapore’s cruise ship terminals.
My biggest frustration with these landing cards is I rarely have a pen within arm’s reach when the cards are handed out, so either need to get one from my bag in the overhead at the time, or ask a cabin crew member for a pen to complete the card (as so many other people are doing at the same time).
I also don’t usually keep my passport at my seat (as I’m terrified I’m going to leave it on the plane), so then need to either put the landing card with my passport (in my bag), or remember to both complete the landing card later in the flight (when I have a pen), and find the landing card to put it with my passport.
So, while I suspect most passengers would rather not complete a landing card at all, the electronic option would be faster for most people, as it does have multiple benefits that will save travellers time:
- It will be available in multiple languages
- If a group is traveling together (i.e. a family), it only needs to be completed once for the group
- Some information, such as address in Singapore will be saved for future trips, so won’t need to be completed each time
- Anyone completing the electronic card will only require their passport at the immigration checkpoint
I’ve always thought technology would make things like landing cards redundant. In 2018 it seems archaic to be scrawling your date of birth in tiny boxes on a landing card, given that to depart so many airports all you now do is quickly scan a boarding pass at immigration or security.
The trial (and future use) of electronic landing cards will not be required by Singaporeans, permanent residents, eIACS and long-term pass holders (such as students and workers) returning to Singapore, as they do not need to complete the paper landing cards.
Hopefully once this becomes permanent, travellers will receive some notification as they are waiting to board their flight to Singapore, that they can complete it at the gate before boarding their flight where they should have easy access to airport Wi-Fi. This is because they may not have Wi-Fi on the plane and will not want to wait around Changi airport when they land to connect to the Wi-Fi to complete the electronic landing card.
Would you prefer to complete an electronic landing card rather than a paper card?