US, Canadian Travelers Will Have Expedited Immigration Access at Heathrow
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As Brexit nears, international travelers from five special countries will officially be allowed to “jump the queue” at UK airports by using expedited security and immigrations lines, a privilege previously reserved only for European Union travelers. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond announced the measure Monday as part of the annual budget.
Passport holders from the United States and Canada, along with citizens of Australia, New Zealand and Japan, most likely won’t be eligible to utilize the electronic passport gates before summer 2019. The move will drastically reduce the amount of time it takes for travelers from these nations to pass through airport lines. Right now, all non-EU citizens have to go through standard immigration and security, which can be notoriously time consuming with wait times of more than two hours.
The “VIP passport access,” as it were, is a faint silver lining to an otherwise-chaotic Brexit negotiation process, which has heavy implications across all walks of daily British life including commercial air travel. Meanwhile, eligible UK citizens have been applying for second passports from Ireland, Germany and other EU countries in an effort to maintain some European Union benefits post-Brexit. In a worst-case scenario, British travelers may end up being considered “third country nationals” if no Brexit deal is reached, should their passports expire while abroad after Brexit goes into effect.
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