The dash to the counter is on. And if you think there are discounts being offered, you're wrong.

We are talking about the ICA counter at the Woodlands Checkpoint.

Corporal Nur Adilla Ramli, 23, said the funniest travellers are those who are stuck in a jam, but get out of their cars and run towards the counter because they need to use the toilet.

"It happens every day. We have to get someone to escort them to the toilet because you can't just walk around at the checkpoint," she added with a laugh.

But her lightheartedness belies the more serious aspects of her job in passport clearance.

Travellers have tried all sorts of methods to hoodwink them, but all officers are trained to spot the tricks, she said.

"We just know what to look out for. We use the knowledge and skills taught to us."

Cpl Adilla, who has been with the ICA for three years, belongs to the team that is deployed to help passport clearance in all sectors - motor, car and bus - depending on the traffic situation.

Like most ICA specialists, she works shifts that last seven to 10 hours, but she works extra hours during the festive season when the traveller count picks up.

Cpl Adilla has encountered travellers who have tried to cross the border with their siblings' passports. There was also once a busload of 12 people who handed over only 11 passports at the checkpoint.

"They insisted that they had only 11 people, but I clearly counted 12. In the end, that one person said that he forgot to give me his passport," she related.