UK Adds Five Countries To ePassport Gates

October 30, 2018

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Delays at passport control at UK airports should ease from next summer as five more countries become eligible to use ePassport gates.

Passengers from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the United States in addition to British and EU nationals will be able to use the automatic gates from summer 2019.

The changes will apply to an estimated 6 million international travellers arriving in the UK every year, the UK government said.

“Increasing the use of digital technology is part of our ambitious programme to improve the passenger experience and meet the challenge of increased passenger numbers,” UK Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said. “Expanding the number of nationalities eligible to use ePassport gates supports this aim.”

ePassport gates use facial recognition technology to compare the passenger’s face to the digital image recorded in their passport. Anyone rejected by the automatic gates is sent to an alternative channel to have their passport checked by a Border Force officer.

Airlines UK, the industry’s trade body welcomed the announcement with chief executive Tim Alderslade saying: “As passenger numbers continue to rise, UK Border Force must be adequately resourced and adopt new approaches in order to prevent a repeat of last summer, where lengthy border queues were experienced at a number of UK airports.

“This announcement is a welcome step in the right direction, enabling millions more travellers to be processed more quickly. It’s important now to ensure Government rapidly implements the required technical changes so passengers can take advantage as quickly as possible.”