As part of efforts to boost security and border protection, the territory has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security.

The MOU — which was signed on Dec. 6 by Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley and Caricom IMPACS Lieutenant Colonel Michael Jones — will bring the territory into a regional system that facilitates the screening of travellers before they arrive at their destination, according to Government Information Services.

Under the Advance Passenger Information System, known as APIS, regional and international aircrafts and vessels are required to submit information about their passengers prior to arriving or departing from member states, according to the programme’s website.

“I am happy that the Virgin Islands is formally joining … the regional effort for security and border protection through the signing of this MOU for the [implementation] of the [APIS] between the government of the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security,” Dr. Wheatley said.

According to the premier, the APIS will also facilitate “faster processing” at the border. “We can have a greater level of comfort because we know that the persons we are admitting into the territory have been screened against international databases by the API System,” he added. “We also feel good knowing that we are passing forward the same benefits to countries that receive travellers from the Virgin Islands when we transmit API to the system.”

According to the Caricom APIS website, the initiative is supported by funding from Spain.

It was established by United States Customs and Border Protection in May 2009 and adopted by Caricom in 2010.

The Turks and Caicos Islands was the first British overseas territory to sign a similar MOU, in 2018.