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List of countries/airports who take fingerprints and other biometric data

List of countries/airports who take fingerprints and other biometric data

Old Mar 12, 15, 4:34 pm
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Lightbulb List of countries which collect fingerprints and other biometric data

Good day FT community,

I've just recently stumbled upon this forum while I was looking for something which apparently hasn't been compiled yet: A (as far as possible) comprehensive list of countries/airports which demand travellers to provide fingerprints, iris scans and/or taking a photo and the like. Apart from old threads like this, I haven't found a similar request yet and hope you'll find it useful and that it's in the right section here

I reckon that'd be very interesting and allows people who still care about their privacy to consider a possible holiday location twice before going there (and even more important, before the transit through a certain country). I've seen I'm not the only one in this forum being concerned about this, and given the big number of frequent travellers here, let's gather useful info! Details are worth gold of course:
  • If a country takes fingerprints at airports, does that apply to people having that country as final destination only or also to transiting travellers?
  • Which specific measures are demanded (fingerprints, iris scans, etc.)
  • Do the measures apply to air travel only or also to arrival/departure by land/sea?
  • Is there an option to opt-out (the normal answer will be "no")?

Note: I personally haven't been to any countries practising this, but what I know from various news, forums, people etc. so far (with some question marks) is:
  • The US (Fingerprints: visiting - yes, transit - yes / Iris scan: visiting - no?, transit - no?) /// Opt-out possible: no
  • Japan (Fingerprints: visiting - yes, transit - ? / Iris scan: visiting - yes?, transit - ?) /// Opt-out possible: no
  • South Korea (Fingerprints: visiting - yes, transit - ? / Iris scan: visiting - ?, transit - ?) /// Opt-out possible: no

China doesn't take fingerprints, but will take a digital photo of you before departure (funny enough, it doesn't happen on arrival).

Feel free to share any contradicting experiences! In general, there is not much coming up on Google apart from heaps of news sites on the US and the other usual suspects posted above, but I've found this odd website also listing
  • Cambodia
  • Panama
  • Argentina
  • Ghana
  • Malaysia
  • Saudi Arabia

as taking fingerprints. Could people who've been to these places recently (past three years I'd say) chime in please and confirm this Any reports on experiences are welcome.

Once we've got some answers, I'll start making up a table so that it's easier to read for everyone. This community has already done a great job in gathering info on airports with whole body scanners, so I'm hoping we're able to do the same with this matter.

Thanks for reading and happy sharing, here's the the table:


Last edited by Brave New World; Feb 24, 18 at 7:31 pm Reason: Edit #15 - Updated table Feb 2018
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Old Mar 12, 15, 8:51 pm
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I believe Brazil fingerprints US (and only US) citizens
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Old Mar 13, 15, 7:55 am
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Good idea for a wiki thread.

[We should also create one listing countries/airports that use ETD.
We should also create one listing countries/airports that use strip search machines.
We should also create one listing countries where encryption passwords/encrypted electronic devices are not protected at border crossings.
We should also create one listing countries where ID is checked by screeners even for domestic flights.]

Originally Posted by CZBB View Post
I believe Brazil fingerprints US (and only US) citizens
Brazil has stopped doing that IIRC.

Argentina, however, does takes some fingerprints now .... at least when flying into Argentina at EZE.
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Old Mar 13, 15, 7:49 pm
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List of countries/airports who take fingerprints and other biometric data

Japan and South Korea only do because the US does. They don't do it to transit pax as they don't pass through immigration. The US has no I-I transit, everyone enters the US.
The US takes anywhere between all prints and just 1 finger depending on which agent you get.

Malyasia doesn't do fingerprints the last time I was there, but others claimed they did at the same time I was there...
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Old Mar 14, 15, 3:05 am
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Panama takes prints and photos on arrival only. So does Taiwan.
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Old Mar 14, 15, 3:13 am
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Thanks for your input so far!

@gracall: "arrival only" excludes transit here? Actually I know someone who transferred in Taipeh two years ago, I'll ask him about his experience.

@Himeno: Maybe you arrived at a different airport in Malaysia? Which one did you land on, I would imagine most people arrive in Kuala Lumpur?
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Old Mar 14, 15, 4:29 am
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Possibly a good idea, but it will need to be kept up to date to be really useful, and some of these policies seem to change fast.

As an example:
Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
[We should also create one listing countries/airports that use ETD.
We should also create one listing countries/airports that use strip search machines.
...]
There is a longstanding sticky thread in the "practical travel safety" subforum on airports/countries with <whole body imaging scanner> machines, but the original post/wiki is out of date. (for example it lists backscatter NoS at a number of US airports but I understand the backscatter machines were all removed some time ago.) This is in no way a criticism of either the OP of that thread or the community; it's a hard and thankless job to keep these sort of things up to date.

Last edited by TWA884; Oct 7, 16 at 8:45 pm Reason: Term inappropriate for the "Practical" forum
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Old Mar 16, 15, 10:11 am
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Originally Posted by Brave New World View Post
Thanks for your input so far!

@gracall: "arrival only" excludes transit here? ?
No finger prints no photos for transit.
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Old Mar 18, 15, 11:22 am
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Originally Posted by gracall View Post
So does Taiwan.
When and where? No fingerprints or photo at TPE 6 months ago.

UK takes fingerprints of all visa applicants and confirms them at point of entry. No biometrics for visitors entering visa-free.
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Old Mar 18, 15, 12:19 pm
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Originally Posted by :D! View Post
When and where? No fingerprints or photo at TPE 6 months ago.
Biometrics readers at all POE since 2014. I've been figerprinted at TPE on all my visits, latest being 4 days ago.
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Old Mar 21, 15, 4:44 am
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A bit off track but related, I've heard that certain countries share their databases with others. So for example if you got arrested for smoking pot in the US then Japan, the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and maybe others would all have that in their systems and could use it to deny you entry.

Is that correct? Or some stupid conspiracy theory?
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Old Mar 23, 15, 12:10 pm
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Was able to find the answer and it's definitely a sobering one. It seems that some countries do share criminal databases. That's actually a good thing regarding rapists, murderers and terrorists, but countries deny entry for irrelevant things which is disgusting.

Found a story of a 33 year old guy who got arrested for a small pot possession when he was 18. He was denied entry to Japan - over THAT. INSANE!!!!!
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Old Mar 29, 15, 2:43 pm
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Huh, looks like the table got uploaded anyway in the start post, since I had internet trouble and didn't know if it got through. I know it's not particularly pretty, but should do what it's supposed to

As someone who hasn't been to the US, do they also take a photo of you on departure/arrival?

@gracall: Taiwan takes photos too?

Thanks for all input so far!
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Old Mar 31, 15, 7:18 am
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Originally Posted by Brave New World View Post
@gracall: Taiwan takes photos too?
Checked with IO, photos and prints on entry and exit.
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Old Apr 1, 15, 2:45 am
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Originally Posted by Himeno View Post
Japan and South Korea only do because the US does. They don't do it to transit pax as they don't pass through immigration. The US has no I-I transit, everyone enters the US.
The US takes anywhere between all prints and just 1 finger depending on which agent you get.

Malyasia doesn't do fingerprints the last time I was there, but others claimed they did at the same time I was there...
Japan and South Korea do it to all foreign nationals arriving in their countries.

Malaysia is hit or miss. I have never been there but some say that, at times, Malaysia mandates fingerprinting for all foreign nationals entering and leaving while recently they stopped doing it but can do so again if it feels like it.
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