The Home Office recently announced that landing cards for visitors arriving in the UK by sea or air would be scrapped from 20 May 2019. This means that international travellers arriving from any country outside the European Economic Area will no longer be required to complete the cards for presentation to an Immigration Officer at passport control.
Estimates vary, but many millions of landing cards are filled in by arriving passengers every year, capturing personal and passport details as well as the reason for travel. The Home Office had initially planned to scrap landing cards for travellers from seven countries from June 2019, but then decided to abandon the policy altogether.
Whilst the Home Office itself defended the move by suggesting it would help border staff “meet the challenge of growing passenger numbers” and allow them to spend more time interacting with those arriving at passport control, critics quickly pointed to the risk of weakened immigration controls and lack of integration with the technology currently at the disposal of Immigration Officers at ports of entry. This appears a valid criticism, because although the Home Office have stated that a lot of the information traditionally captured by landing cards would soon be available digitally, the Immigration Service Union (the Home Office’s own union representing its staff) have complained that the move to abandon landing cards completely was introduced so suddenly and ahead of the technology to assist border officers being available. This technology was to be part of the Border Force’s new IT system – for which there is currently no implementation date.
The Union also noted the importance of landing cards in connection with possible future interaction with the Home Office, given that they also recorded conditions of entry and anything said to the Immigration Officer on arrival. Answers given to questions asked by border staff can indeed be significant in the event that representations have to be made to the Home Office after arrival on what was said on entry and therefore we would recommend that any travellers questioned at the border make a contemporaneous note of any interaction with border officials for this purpose.
If you have any questions or queries with respect to UK entry procedures or visa categories, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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.