European border control in Bulgaria: SSARM and secunet will implement the first EES project in Europe

In preparation for the planned European Entry/Exit System (EES), Bulgaria has opted for border control technology from SSARM and secunet. The overall solution will relieve the Bulgarian authorities and compensate the additional workload that will arise in the future from the collection of biometric data at the border.

As part of the Smart Borders Initiative, the European Parliament decided to establish the common biometric Entry/Exit System (EES) for the registration of all travellers from third countries. Therefore, as of 2022, Third Country Nationals (TCN) will have to register with four fingerprints and a facial image when entering the Schengen area through land, sea and air borders.

Following the recent tender, the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior has commissioned the company SSARM as general contractor to implement the first EES project in Europe. The solution provider secunet acting as industry partner to SSARM will deliver and install 20 secunet easygates for automated border control including face and fingerprint verification and 8 secunet easykiosks for the self-preregistration of TCN. For stationary border control counters, secunet provides 66 easytowers as well as fingerprint scanners for the high-quality biometric acquisition (facial images and fingerprints).

The EES components will be installed at the airports in Sofia, Varna and Burgas.

Automated and self-service systems play a key role to compensate the additional efforts due to biometric enrolment at the border as required by the EES. The solutions will simplify and speed up the border control process. With the EES solutions from secunet’s border gears portfolio, Bulgaria will implement the latest technology for future-proof, secure and efficient border control.

The newest generation e-gates –secunet easygate– incorporates highly sophisticated face and fingerprint verification including latest biometric fraud detection mechanisms, known as presentation attack detection (PAD).

secunet easykiosk and secunet easytower assure ISO-compliant high quality acquisition of face and/or fingerprints. This is of utmost importance to ensure the reliable and efficient identification at border control points against data of this scale – the ESS will contain an estimated 300 million entries from TCN.

SSARM is the prime contractor and responsible for the project management as well as installation and support services. The installation starts at Sofia airport. The participating companies currently expect the entire EES project to be completed before summer 2021.

“The project for the upgrade of the Automatic Border Control system (ABC system) on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria in compliance with Regulation 2226/2017 and the EU Entry/Exit System (EES) is very important for us and will position Bulgaria as one of the first countries in the EU with a real implementation of an EES-ready solution for automated border control. We shall put all our efforts to make this project a reality as soon as possible and we shall try to be one of the first in the EU to go live with this project. We shall proceed with our efforts to extend the project to land borders as well“, stated Mr. Mladen Petrov, Director of Communication and Information Systems Directorate, Ministry of Interior.

“The delivery of equipment and services for the air borders EES project is а further extension of our long-term partnership with secunet and I believe that together we are delivering the best and most developed EES-compliant technology which will help the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior and Border Police to be fully ready to meet the new regulations. The solution will automate border control checks and will shorten the time for passing the border for EU citizens as well as for third-country travellers“, stated Mr. Nikolay Paunov, General Manager, SSARM Ltd