It Just Got A Whole Lot Easier To Travel To The U.K.

When Joe and I went to London a month or so ago, our first 90 minutes were spent standing on the queue to get through immigration at Heathrow. We realized it was a necessary evil, but it made us even more appreciative that we had Global Entry, so we wouldn’t have to stand on a similar line when we got home.

Flights Delayed at Heathrow due to snow

Thankfully, the U.K. government just changed that.

Until today, only people with passports from the follow countries and regions were able to go through ePassport gates (a.k.a. eGates) at U.K. borders:

  • European Union (EU)
  • European Economic Area (EEA)
  • Great Britain
  • Switzerland

However effective today, those who have passports from the following countries will be able to go through the eGates, as well:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • United States

Screen Shot 2019-05-20 at 3.02.52 PM

You can normally use ePassport gates if you:

  • have a biometric symbol on the cover of your passport
  • are aged 12+ (12 to 17 year olds must be accompanied by an adult)

Automated eGates offer an alternative to conventional passport checks and work similarly to those entering the U.S. with Global Entry. You just scan your e-passport at the barrier and their system runs a facial recognition check against the chip in your passport. If you pass and are eligible to enter the U.K., the gate opens automatically. If there are questions about your entry, you’ll need to go through the regular passport desk.

Here’s a quick video to explain the process:

The use of ePassport gates will occur at all U.K. entry points that have eGates available – currently a total of 15 air and rail ports.

With the introduction of eGates, the U.K. has also ended requiring visitors to fill out a landing card – even if you aren’t eligible to use the eGates, everything is done electronically, so you don’t have to fill out any paperwork.

This page of the U.K. government’s website is a guide that might be helpful in terms of what to expect and do (and not do) when arriving at the border.

This should make arriving in the U.K. a whole lot easier and faster. Cheers!

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

4 thoughts on “It Just Got A Whole Lot Easier To Travel To The U.K.”

  1. Good timing! I’m going to the UK in three weeks. Seems must more efficient than standing in line for two hours.

    1. It would need to be several other countries that make that change, not just the U.S., but I hope it happens soon – I know the line for immigration at MCO is a beast that can take just as long as the line we experienced at Heathrow last month.

      I didn’t notice anything about a charge for it on any of the U.K.’s government websites.

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