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U.K. Considers Eliminating Passport Requirement at Borders

Daniel Ross's image
Daniel Ross
Daniel Ross's image

Daniel Ross

Senior Content Contributor

Countries Visited: 56U.S. States Visited: 17

Daniel has loved aviation and travel his entire life. He earned a Master of Science in Air Transport Management and has written about travel and aviation in publications like Simple Flying, The Points...
Edited by: Juan Ruiz
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Juan Ruiz

Compliance Editor & Content Contributor

Countries Visited: 40U.S. States Visited: 27

Juan has been involved in credit cards, loyalty, travel, and personal finance for more than 10 years. He has worked for several outlets including The Points Guy and Forbes and was previously Editor-in...

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Changes are afoot for the way passengers will be processed when arriving at U.K. borders in 2024, as reported by The Times.

Border Force, the entity in charge of keeping the U.K.’s border safe on behalf of the government, has unveiled plans to scrap the requirement to show passports on arrival completely, at least for some travelers. Ultimately, this should result in quicker entry into the UK, which is good news for many.

Here are the details we know so far.

U.K. To Scrap Passports at Borders

In theory, foreign nationals from Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, the U.S., and any EU country can already enjoy a significantly more streamlined entrance into the U.K. thanks to being eligible to use eGates, which are automated self-service barriers located at immigration checkpoints and operated by the UK Border Force.

Travelers can now avoid the hassle of waiting in line and answering questions from a Border Force agent thanks to this cutting-edge technology. Now, individuals can scan their own passports while looking into a camera to confirm that their face matches the picture on the passport.

TAP Air Portugal Airbus A321LRneo business class Heathrow eGates
A member of Heathrow’s service team is on hand to help passengers with the current eGate system. Image Credit: Daniel Ross

The new proposal would mean removing the step of scanning the passport and instead relying solely on facial recognition technology.

“We will know a lot more information about people upfront,” said Phil Douglas, director general of Border Force, to The Times. “We will know if they’ve been in the UK before. We’ll know what their compliance with immigration laws is. And we’ll know if there’s any record of them on our security systems.”

Bottom Line:

2024 is set to bring positive changes for the both both arrival and departing passengers at U.K. airports. As well as the proposal to remove the need for passports, there are also plans to ease restrictions on laptops and liquids for departing passengers.

Given the often unreliability of the current eGates system, it’s hoped the proposed replacement will be a considerable improvement. According to Douglas, the new technology will incorporate “much more frictionless facial recognition.”

The technology is not the first of its kind, with countries such as Australia and the United Arab Emirates already employing similar technology at some airports.

Final Thoughts

Eliminating the requirement to carry a passport when traveling to the U.K. is a significant change that will inevitably have some initial challenges. However, once facial recognition technology is implemented, it has the potential to significantly streamline the immigration process in the U.K., placing it among the most efficient in the world.

Daniel Ross's image

About Daniel Ross

Daniel has loved aviation and travel his entire life. He earned a Master of Science in Air Transport Management and has written about travel and aviation in publications like Simple Flying, The Points Guy, and more.

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