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Customs to access air passenger (PNR) details for 'risk analysis'
The new regulation requires all the airlines to transmit already collected specified information about air travellers electronically to the Customs 24 hours before departure. It says the passengers are not required to individually submit any information to the Customs. The guideline is to help in investigations of offences like smuggling. The National Customs Targeting Centre-Passenger (NCTC-P) that will receive the information from the airlines will conduct the "risk analysis of passengers."

NEW DELHI, Aug 11: The Ministry of Finance has issued new guidelines to enhance the capabilities of the Customs in the investigation of offences committed through air travel relating to smuggling of contraband such as gold, narcotics, psychotropic substances, arms & ammunition etc. that directly impact national security.

In order to provide a defined framework for the collection of specified details relating to international passengers travelling by air, the Passenger Name Record Information Regulations, 2022 (the ‘Regulations’) were notified on August 8, 2022, a PIB release said.

The information, about passengers who are travelling to or from India, is to be transmitted to the Customs at least 24 hours prior to their flight departure by the airlines. The details include date of reservation and issue of ticket; frequent flyer and benefit information like free tickets, upgrades; all available payment/billing information (like credit card number); travel itinerary for specific PNR; travel agency etc. The regulation will also help in detecting travel on fake documents, apart from smuggling and other offences.

The National Customs Targeting Centre-Passenger (NCTC-P) that will receive the information from the airlines will conduct the "risk analysis of passengers."

The mechanism using non-intrusive techniques is being widely adopted by border management agencies of several administrations.

The regulation requires the airlines to transmit specified information electronically to the Customs. It says the passengers are not required to individually submit any information to the Customs. Airlines are already collecting the necessary information as per the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation.

The data exchange between the airlines and the Customs is through the PNRGOV EDIFACT message format. This is a standard electronic message format endorsed jointly by the World Customs Organisation (WCO), International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and is widely used internationally.

The purpose of the regulation is to obtain the data in advance of departure or arrival of the passengers for analysis by the Customs.

The information collected is subject to information privacy and data protection. The information received is used for further processing only by a senior officer of the rank of Principal Additional Director General/Additional Director General.

In normal course, the data collected is stored only for five years after which it is disposed of by depersonalisation or anonymisation.

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