On 20 May the Home Office announced that visitors from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and the US will from this date be able to use the electronic ePassport gates at arrival ports to enter the UK.
The aim is to speed up border controls for nationals of countries the UK government considers to be “low-risk”. The Home Office has stated that in 2017 over 10 million visitors arrived in the UK from the above seven countries.
The Home Office quoted Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, as saying that the UK’s new immigration and border system “will improve security and fluidity for passengers coming to visit or work in the UK”, and that the expanded use of ePassport gates would allow the Home Office “to improve the passenger experience of those arriving in the UK while keeping our border secure”.
The expansion of the use of ePassport gates at the UK border for the above countries had originally been planned for June 2019, but the new announcement means that their nationals will now join British and EU nationals in being able to enter the UK quicker by avoiding the queues often seen at UK ports of entry. The ePassport gates rely on facial recognition technology to compare a scan of a person’s face with the image reproduced in their passport. Passengers who are 18 or over and who hold the biometric or ‘chipped’ style of passport can use the gates, as well as those who are aged 12-17 and who are being accompanied by an adult.
This extension of the ePassport gate system is designed to enhance the passenger experience on arrival and make passing through passport control more ‘welcoming’. The Home Office quoted the Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association as saying “[E]nabling more passengers to use ePassport gates is an important next step in our joint efforts to enhance the welcome at the border. It will demonstrate the UK is open for business, tourism and visiting friends and relatives. It will also free up Border Force officers for other duties, improving the experience of all passengers”.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.