The Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) on Facilitation are derived from several provisions of the Chicago Convention. A number of several articles which have special pertinence to the provisions of Annex 9 have been taken into account in its preparation. The SARPs pertain specifically to Facilitation of landside formalities for clearance of aircraft and commercial traffic for both passengers and cargo, through the requirements, inter alia of customs, immigration, public health and agriculture authorities.
Initially, the main thrust of the Annex consisted of efforts to reduce paperwork, standardize internationally the documents that were to accompany traffic between States, and simplify the procedures required to clear aircraft, passengers and cargo. It was recognized that delays due to cumbersome formalities was to be reduced, because of cost to all the "customer groups" in the community.
Over the years, new SARPs and guidance material were introduced to address certain high-profile issues of public interest such as the treatment of persons with disabilities.
The face of Facilitation was also further shaped by major developments in the civil aviation environment with massive increases in illegal migration through international air transport.
Annex 9 - Facilitation is based on 10 articles of the Chicago Convention (see table below) which require that the civil aviation community comply with laws governing the inspection of aircraft, cargo and passengers by authorities concerned with customs, immigration, agriculture and public health. Under the Convention, States are obligated to adopt standards and expedite the necessary formalities in order to minimize operational delays. As the means of carrying out this mandate, the FAL Programme is designed to help States achieve maximum efficiency in their border clearance operations and at the same time achieve and maintain high-quality security and effective law enforcement. Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) designed to meet these objectives are developed by ICAO and are maintained in Annex 9.
Within the civil aviation community, facilitation is of interest to four major groups: Member States, air transport operators, airports and customers. States are primarily interested in achieving full compliance with their laws and regulations, whereas operators are focused on increasing productivity by minimizing the costs of operational delays and administrative procedures. Airports view facilitation as a means to reduce congestion in passenger terminals and cargo sheds. The fourth group, air transport customers (i.e. passengers and cargo shippers), wants to proceed through airports with minimal delay and difficulty. One of the FAL Programme’s challenges is to address all these interests in a coordinated manner.
In addition to this challenge, the FAL Programme is faced with external issues such as unlawful interference with civil aviation, illegal migration, illicit narcotics trafficking and contagious diseases which, if not kept under control, can undermine the facilitation process. These elements must be taken into account when developing the FAL Programme so that various components provide for their effective control while also meeting the community’s facilitation objectives.
In addition to its work in developing and implementing Annex 9, ICAO develops and publishes specifications for machine readable travel documents.
Articles of the Chicago Convention on which the FAL Programme is based
Article 10: Landing at customs airport
Article 13: Entry and clearance regulations
Article 14: Prevention of spread of diseases
Article 22: Facilitation of formalities
Article 23: Customs and immigration procedures
Article 24: Customs duty
Article 29: Documents carried in aircraft
Article 35: Cargo restrictions
Article 37: Adoption of international standards and procedures
Article 38: Departures from international standards and procedures
To promote the implementation of Annex 9 and related guidance material, ICAO continues to rely on regional meetings and visits to States by ICAO experts. In addition, facilitation training is offered, either independently or in conjunction with aviation security training events. Moreover, ICAO provides support for strategic planning by providing FAL contacts with informal guidance and information.