India’s Customs asks for international passenger details 24 hours prior to flight departure


India joined a list of 60 countries, including the United States, to ask airlines to mandatorily share passenger name record (PNR) details of international passengers with the National Customs Targeting Centre (NCTC), 24 hours prior to departure of flights.

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs issued a notification on Monday to this effect. The document asks all airlines to share 19 details of each international passenger including name, date of travel, contact details, payment or billing information, travel status of the passenger, confirmation and check-in status, baggage information, seat information, and the travel agency from where the ticket was issued.

India’s current regulation requires airlines to share in advance only the passenger’s name, nationality and passport details.

According to government sources, the data is being collected to conduct ‘risk analysis’ of passengers. “It is being introduced to prevent economic offenders from fleeing the country,” the source said.

In a news report, the Indian Express said the Indian government had, in September 2020, informed Parliament that 38 persons involved in cases registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation related to financial irregularities with banks, fled the country from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2019.

In addition, the government informed Parliament that under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, applications for Red Corner Notices were filed against 20 persons, extradition requests were sent to various countries for 14 persons, and applications under Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 were filed against 11 persons.

The Indian Express quoted a senior CBIC official as saying, “The objective is to collect advance information on passengers for better risk profiling. Immigration data is available only after the arrival or departure of passengers.”