RFID readers installed along U.S. borders

Published 28 July 2008

Today the first Border Patrol RFID readers go into use at El Paso, Texas, border crossing; during the next two months many more RFID readers will be installed in order to speed up traffic across borders

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) today begins deployment of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to vehicle lanes at El Paso, Texas border crossings 28. The RFID technology will speed up travel and further enhance our border security. The project is expected to last approximately 2-3 weeks at each port, with Stanton and Bridge of the Americas slated for the end of July, and Paso del Norte and Ysleta scheduled for mid-August. The second phase of the project is scheduled to begin in early 2009. “CBP wants to assure travelers that the construction will be performed during non-peak traffic periods to minimize impact on traffic wait times,” said William Molaski, acting El Paso port director. “RFID technology at our land crossings is a major stride to securing our nation and facilitating legitimate travel. We encourage all crossers to obtain one of the RFID-readable documents.”

Use of RFID will enable swifter processing at border crossings for travelers using new state-of-the-art travel documents. These documents include the passport card — a wallet-sized, cost-effective alternative to the traditional passport specifically designed for cross-border land and sea travel — and enhanced driver’s licenses being produced by several states. The state of Washington began producing an enhanced driver’s license in February and currently has issued more than 21,000. In addition, the State Department will be incorporating RFID technology into next generation Border Crossing Cards. These new cards, which the State Department will begin issuing later this year, will further enhance and streamline border crossing for Border Crossing Card holders. These documents are the result of a new requirement, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), a Congressional mandate passed in 2004. The requirement went into effect for air travel in January 2007. Full implementation of WHTI for land and sea travel will go into effect 1 June 2009. To help mitigate impact, CBP is taking a phased approach with separate construction and installation phases, which will be complete prior to June 2009. Where possible, construction is taking place during non-peak hours.

The construction is occurring in Blaine, Washington and Nogales, Arizona. in June, and in the following locations throughout summer and fall: Buffalo, Champlain, Massena, and Alexandria Bay, New York; Detroit, Port Huron, and Sault St. Marie, Michigan; El Paso, Laredo, Brownsville, Hidalgo, Rio Grande City, Fabens, Progreso, Del Rio, Roma, Presidio, and Eagle Pass, Texas; Derby Line, Highgate Springs, and Alburg, Vermont; Sweetgrass, Montana; Calais, Houlton, and Madawaska, Maine; International Falls, Minnesota; Sumas Point Roberts and Lynden, Washington; Pembina, North Dakota; San Ysidro, Andrade, Tecate, Otay Mesa, and Calexico, California; San Luis, Douglas, and Lukeville, Arizona; and Columbus, New Mexico.

For more information about obtaining a passport or passport card, please visit the State Department travel site. ( U.S. Department of State Travel ) For information on states issuing enhanced driver’s licenses, or when applying for any of CBP’s trusted traveler programs, which are also alternatives under the new requirements please visit the CBP.gov Web site. ( Trusted Traveler Programs )

As travelers gear up for the busy summer travel season, CBP also offers tips to help expedite processing at the port of entry by having their documents ready upon arrival at the primary inspection booth and to declare all purchases to the CBP officer, including fruits, vegetables and animal products. For questions regarding admissible or prohibited products, please visit “Know Before You Go” guide on CBP.gov. ( Know Before You Go )