Airlines operating to and from Bangladesh will soon have to provide advance information about passengers to customs authority, as part of the National Board of Revenue's efforts to combat: smuggling, import of prohibited goods and terrorism.
The NBR has placed the proposal in the parliament for inclusion in the Customs Act 1969 as part of the fiscal measures for the incoming year on July 1.
In the absence of the rule, the customs authority cannot legally ask the airlines to provide advance passenger information (API) or passenger name record (PNR).
At present, 39 countries, including the US, collect API or PNR or both to enhance border security and perform risk assessment on travellers and crew before their arrival, according to International Air Transport Association (IATA). Another 32 countries are planning to introduce similar requirements in the near future.
API information usually consists of data found in the Machine Readable Zone (MRZ) of passports and other travel documents.
It includes: full name, date of birth, gender, passport number, country of citizenship, country of passport issuance, according to the IATA.
PNR, which contains data provided by travellers at the time of booking and are held in airlines' reservation systems until check-in, is required in 6 countries; 30 more are in the process of introducing the step.
Customs officials said API and PNR from airlines would enable them to develop database overtime and detect suspicious travellers and subsequently prevent smuggling, money laundering and ensure safety and security.
The move comes at a time when the customs authority is frequently seizing smuggled gold, fake currencies and items with high tariff from travellers at the airports.
The latest data on the seizure of gold and other items is not available from the NBR.
A publication by the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID) showed that it seized 121.68 kilograms of gold in fiscal 2015-16. The highest amount of gold was seized in fiscal 2013-14: 565 kilograms, according to CIID.
The number of travellers from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport rose 10 percent year-on-year to 7.65 lakh in 2017, according to data by the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh.