UK opens ePassport gates to travellers from seven non-EU countries

ePassport gatesImage: The UK government expands use of ePassport gates to more countries. Photo: courtesy of Crown copyright.

The UK Home Office announced that eligible visitors from seven non-European Union (non-EU) countries, including the US, Canada and Japan, can enter the country using ePassport gates.

The British government took the decision to enable quick and secured entry for eligible travellers from the select countries using ePassport gates at ports in the UK and juxtaposed controls. The government believes that the move, which comes into immediate effect, will help in speeding up border controls for the “low-risk countries”.

The other four countries to be given the privilege by the UK government are Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea. As per the Home Office statistics, in 2017, there were more than 10 million arrivals in the UK by nationals from the seven countries.

British and EU nationals have been using ePassport gates since 2008. Even after the exit of the UK from the EU, the latter’s nationals will continue to be eligible to use them.

Currently, there are 264 ePassport gates in operation across 15 air and rail terminals in the UK and juxtaposed controls. The gates deploy facial recognition technology to compare the face of a passenger to his/her digital image recorded in their passport.

The process is monitored by Border Force officers and passengers rejected at the ePassport gates will be asked to go to a manned passport check to get their identity and passport checked.

The ePassport gates can be used by those aged 18 and over, and who are travelling using a biometric or ‘chipped’ passport. Travellers, aged 12 to 17, and who are accompanied by an adult, can also use the gates.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Our new global immigration and border system will improve security and fluidity for passengers coming to visit or work in the UK. Expanding the use of ePassport gates is a key part of this and allows us to improve the passenger experience of those arriving in the UK while keeping our border secure.

“The new system will help to drive our economy, cement our reputation as a global leader and send a clear message to the world – the UK is open for business.”

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