The UK government has expanded the use of ePassport gates to seven more countries allowing passengers to enter the UK quickly and securely in changes made to the border from May 20. Visitors from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States will be able to use ePassport gates at ports across the UK and juxtaposed controls in a move designed to speed up border controls for low-risk countries. The Home Office reports that there were more than ten million arrivals in the UK by nationals from these countries in 2017.
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 experience for 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.”
The ePassport gates have been available to British and EU nationals since 2008 and 51.9 million people used these gates in the year ending September 2018. Additionally, the government is removing the need for all non-European Economic Area (EEA) travellers to fill in landing cards on arrival in the UK, making for a smoother entry to the country.
The ePassport gates use facial recognition technology to compare the passenger’s face to the digital image recorded in their passport. Use of the gates is monitored by Border Force officers and anyone rejected is sent to a manned desk to have their identity and passport checked. Currently, the Home Office says, there are 264 ePassport gates in operation at 15 air and rail terminals in the UK.