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US passport holders, be prepared for a less-hectic and more speedy UK immigration process. As of Monday, US passport holders, along with those from six other countries, can use automated ePassport gates on arrival to the UK, where available.
The seven countries include:
- New Zealand
- South Korea
- United States
UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said of the news: “This is fantastic news for passengers. A good border experience is a great way to show the UK is open for business and we encourage the Government to continue to prioritise it.”
These passengers can now avoid potential wait times at immigration by inserting their passport into the machines, having their photograph taken and then entering the country automatically without any human interaction. The ePassport gate process usually takes just seconds, rather than the hour-plus long waits some passengers may be used to, especially at Heathrow. Best of all, there’s no registration required, though travelers who are under 12 aren’t permitted to use the ePassport gates.
There are currently 264 ePassport gates at the following UK locations, in addition to juxtaposed controls:
- Birmingham Airport (BHX)
- Bristol Airport (BRS)
- Cardiff Airport (CWL)
- East Midlands Airport (EMA)
- Edinburgh Airport (EDI)
- Gatwick Airport (LGW; North and South Terminals)
- Glasgow Airport (GLA)
- Heathrow Airport (LHR; Terminals 2, 3, 4 and 5)
- London City Airport (LCY)
- Luton Airport (LTN)
- Manchester Airport (MAN; Terminals 1, 2 and 3)
- Newcastle Airport (NCL)
- Stansted Airport (STN)
As of Monday, the UK has also done away with paper landing cards. Regardless if you have access to ePassport gates, you’ll no longer have to complete personal details by hand each time you enter the United Kingdom. The Immigration Service Union told The Independent that it’s disappointed this change has been made so suddenly, and that it may “weaken the UK borders.”
While passengers from these seven additional countries should expect a much quicker entry, those passport holders who already use the ePassport gates may experience longer wait times than usual as the number of eligible passengers using this service increases sharply. This may be especially apparent at Heathrow Terminals 3 and 5, which receive a large number of North American flights, and therefore passport holders. Around 52 million passengers already use the service each year.
EU nationals will remain eligible to continue using these gates once the UK leaves the European Union.
Featured image by Oli Scarff/Getty Images
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