Facilitation Programmes



In 2014, it was estimated that on a daily basis around 3.622 Million international passengers are controlled at the borders. With air traffic projected to double in the next 15 years, current and emerging facilitation risks need to be addressed proactively to ensure that this significant capacity expansion is carefully managed and supported through strategic regulatory and infrastructure developments.


Considering that the presentation and inspection of travel documents is a routine aspect of international air travel requiring State programmes, specialized infrastructure and personnel, as well as a processing time for the travel incurred, the scale of future aviation activity brings into sharp focus the need for travel documents and related systems that are up to the task of tomorrow's facilitation and security challenges.

immigration.pngIn the civil aviation community, facilitation is of particular interest to four major groups (ICAO Member States, aircraft and airport operators, and customers), each having a somewhat different priority, although their interests do overlap. The primary interest of States is full compliance with their laws and regulations. The vital interest of aircraft operators is increasing productivity by minimizing the costs of operational delays and administrative procedures. Airports are interested in Facilitation in order to reduce congestion in the passenger terminals and in the cargo sheds. The fourth group, the customers of air transport (passengers and cargo shippers), want quality service, which means being allowed to proceed through airports with minimal delay and difficulty. ICAO's challenge in the Facilitation Programme is to address all of these interests in a coordinated manner, while working toward the objective of a more efficient, orderly and attractive transportation product.


In addition to the demands of harmonizing objectives, the civil aviation community must contend with external challenges that include threats to security, illegal migration, travel document fraud, illicit narcotics trafficking and the spread of contagious disease. These are global threats and everyday realities. They thus need to be taken into account in the continuous development of the Facilitation Programme, so that the various components provide for their control while meeting the aviation community's facilitation objectives.




The ICAO Facilitation (FAL) Programme provides Contracting States with the means of maximizing the efficiency of their border clearance formalities while also achieving and maintaining high-quality security and effective law enforcement.


The goals of these FAL Programmes are to:


  • foster implementation of the Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) of Annex 9 — Facilitation;
  • review and simplify Annex 9 SARPs in order to enhance States’ comprehension and implementation;
  • develop modern and innovative strategies for addressing issues such as airport congestion; and

a) mitigate risks to aviation security and broader national security through robust methods of  identification management and border control;
b) assist in the detection and prevention of terrorism and crime through the prevention of the fraudulent use of identification documents;
c) facilitate genuine travellers through the airport process by automated clearance processes to increase throughput;
d) reduce staff and training costs by standardizing and simplifying document verification processes;
e) enable interoperability and the use of standard technologies for identification management for both States and industry, leading to efficient operations and cost reduction;
f) increase States’ confidence in their ability to verify that documents have been appropriately issued and have not been altered; and
g) provide for cost-effective deployment of security and border control personnel and resources on a risk-management basis.

  • expand knowledge of facilitation among civil aviation officials and provide guidance for policy development and operational planning related to improving facilitation at airports.

The primary strategies used for achieving these objectives are to:

  • improve procedures for border controls, clearance and security;
  • contain security problems such as trafficking in narcotics, illegal migration and travel document fraud;
  • promote standardization of information requirements essential to the global interoperability of systems;
  • foster industry and government cooperation as well as cooperative arrangements between States;

a) Development of the international framework of Standards, Recommended Practices, specifications   (Doc 9303) and guidance material;

b) Implementation assistance for the benefit of States’ programmes, with focus on building assistance partnerships to recruit and mobilize financial and in-kind resources;

c) Assessment of compliance with the international framework, with emphasis on cost-effective methods to produce recommendations to address deficiencies; and

d) Delivery of the PKD, including governance, management, administration and operations.

  • strengthen communication on facilitation matters between ICAO, Member States, international organizations and the aviation industry;
  • provide Member States with the tools needed to set realistic goals for their national Facilitation programmes and attain related objectives; and
  • promote Annex 9 as a living document that sends an unambiguous message as to what is expected of airlines, airports and border control authorities.


In 2012, the ICAO Council approved a new Strategic Objective, "Security & Facilitation: Enhance global civil aviation security and facilitation". This Strategic Objective reflects the need for ICAO's leadership in aviation security and the facilitation of air transport and related border security matters. The FAL Programmes address primarily the varied, but inter-related, interests of Member States, aircraft and airport operators, and customers in a coordinated manner, while working towards achieving more efficient and orderly air transportation. Responding to the contemporary needs of States, the Programmes contend with external challenges that include, e.g., threats to security, illegal migration, travel document fraud, narcotics trafficking, and the spread of contagious disease.


Consequently, in addition to Annex 9 that articulates the obligations of Member States and standardizes procedures for meeting their legal requirements under the Chicago Convention, a separate resolution establishing ICAO policies related specifically to facilitation was endorsed by the 39th Session of the ICAO Assembly (A39). In A39–20, the Assembly resolved that the following Appendices, constitute the consolidated statement of continuing ICAO policies related to facilitation, as of the close of the 39th Session:





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