Home Office to trial £500k ‘biometric self-service kiosks’ at immigration offices

Those attending appointments in Croydon or Solihull may be able to use automated checks

Credit: Crown Copyright/Open Government Licence v3.0

The Home Office is to trial the use of technology-enabled kiosks that would allow those using its immigration services to undergo automated checks.

Earlier this year the department conducted initial feasibility trials of both “biometric self-service kiosks” and mobile applications that are designed to collect the biometric information required to support a claim for legal immigration status, and check data against that contained in passports and other official documents.

Having been identified as the more “mature” of the two technology systems, the kiosks will now enter a full three-month pilot phase, with at least four of the units to be deployed later this year at Home Office facilities in Croydon and Solihull.

The department is seeking a supplier that can supply and install the kiosks and support their operation during the pilot, for which “diverse range of customers will be selected to take part… [across] categories of age, sex and ethnicity, [and] this will include those with disabilities”, according to a newly published procurement notice. 

Everyone using the units will be “real Home Office customers applying for immigration products in the UK”, the department said.

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“The self-service kiosks must securely enrol face and fingerprint biometrics and biographics from real customers, and bind them to the customer, without staff assistance or supervision,” the notice said. “This trial will be the next stage of testing for self-service kiosks to understand how they perform in the operational setting when there is no staff supervision. In the future, the Home Office envisages that self-service kiosks will be one of the enrolment options available as part of an ecosystem of options.”

According to a Home Office report, the feasibility trial found that photos taken by the best-performing kiosks were of an equivalent quality to those of human-supervised appointments, and were successfully matched with the person in question’s passport image in 99% of cases. 

The contract notice added: “The Home Office’s ambition is that all visitors and migrants will provide their biometric facial images and fingerprints under a single global immigration system ahead of travel to the UK, utilising remote self-enrolment for those who are not required to apply for a visa as part of an ecosystem of enrolment options.”

Bids for the project to supply the kiosks are open until midnight on 8 August, with the chosen firm expected to be appointment to a six-month contract, worth an estimated £500,000 and beginning by the end of November.


Sam Trendall

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