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Airlines asked to share details of foreign travellers with government

With this regulation, India joins 60 other countries that collect Passenger Name Record details of international tourists
Representational file image
Representational file image

PTI   |   New Delhi   |   Published 10.08.22, 10:10 PM

The finance ministry on Wednesday said the regulations mandating airlines to mandatorily share PNR details of foreign travellers with the customs are intended to enhance interdiction capabilities of authorities as well as risk analysis of passengers.

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), under the finance ministry, on August 8 notified the 'Passenger Name Record Information Regulations, 2022', under which airlines will have to share passenger information, including name, contact details and payment details, which will be used by the customs department for improved surveillance and risk assessment of passengers entering or leaving the country.

The ministry said that although some data elements included in the regulations are available from other sources, the objective of these regulations is to obtain this data in advance of departure or arrival of the passengers for "analytics by the Customs Risk Management System".

The information has to be shared by airlines with customs authorities 24 hours prior to departure of international flights.

In a statement, the ministry said in order to provide a defined framework for collection of specified details relating to international passengers travelling by air, the regulations have been notified.

"These regulations are meant to enhance detection, interdiction and investigative capabilities of customs authorities using non-intrusive techniques for combating offences related to smuggling of contraband such as narcotics, psychotropic substances, gold, arms & ammunition etc. that directly impact national security," it said.

This mechanism is being widely used by border management agencies of several administrations.

With this regulation, India joins 60 other countries that collect Passenger Name Record (PNR) details of international travellers.

Airlines at present are required to share passenger information limited to name, nationality and passport detail in advance with the immigration authorities.

The government had proposed the requirement of airlines sharing PNR details of passengers 24 hours in advance in the Union Budget for 2017, but a formal process for communication of the passenger data has only been formalised now with the notification issued on Monday.

"Every aircraft operator shall transfer the passenger name record information... of passengers they have already collected such information in the normal course of business operations, to the designated customs systems," the regulations said, adding the information is to be shared by airline companies for both inbound and outbound international flights.

The ministry said under the regulations, passengers are not required to individually submit any information to customs, neither do they need to furnish any additional information to the airlines on account of these regulations.

The information collected is subject to strict information privacy and data protection and there are adequate legal and administrative safeguards built in.

"Processing of the information to reveal ethnicity, race, religious or philosophical beliefs, health etc. is strictly prohibited. Hardware and software necessary for data protection has already been envisaged," it added.

The information received is used for further processing only by a senior officer of the rank of Principal Additional Director General/Additional Director General. The data collected is stored for five years after which it is disposed of by depersonalisation or anonymisation. The regulations provide for a system and security audit to prevent misuse of the information.

"The regulations strike a good balance between the needs of privacy and the imperatives of security," the ministry added.

For each act of non-compliance to these regulations, the aircraft operators would have to pay a penalty of a minimum of Rs 25,000 and a maximum of Rs 50,000.

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