Good news for Indians travellers! UK government scraps landing cards at airports

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New Delhi | Published: May 24, 2019 10:02:37 AM

Since 2008, the automated ePassport gates have already been available to European Union (EU) and British nationals. They have the liberty to use them even once the UK leaves the EU.

united states, european union, home office, london, australia, canada, european economic area, japan, new zealand, sajid javid, singapore, south korea, UK, European Economic Area, Airline passengers, Karen Dee, IndianSince 2008, the automated ePassport gates have already been available to European Union (EU) and British nationals. They have the liberty to use them even once the UK leaves the EU. (AP Photo)

To all the travelers going to Britain, here’s some good news for you! The UK government has now decided that you don’t have to fill the landing cards at the airport. This decision came as a part of a series of measures, which aimed at an easy entry into the country. Earlier, the airline passengers from countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA), were supposed to complete the forms (landing cards). Later, along with passports, the forms were handed over to immigration officers.

This move by the UK government has reduced the burden on passengers. However, according to the UK Home Office, the border security of the country will be maintained as the same security checks will be in place. Chief Executive of the UK’s Airport Operators Association, Karen Dee mentioned to the PTI that ahead of the busy summer months airports are prepared. Nobody likes to wait long in a queue for passport control, which is why the airports work very closely with Border Force, in order to ensure the border is maintaining the security of the United Kingdom.

On landing in the UK, India is not yet among the countries which can access the ePassport gates. However, tourists from countries like Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Singapore, and the US will be able to use these automated ePassport gates at various ports across the country. India is yet to come among the list of “low risk” countries.

UK home secretary Sajid Javid that the new border system and global immigration will improve the fluidity and security for commuters coming to work or visit in the UK. However, expanding the use of ePassport gates is a key part which allows improving the travel experience while keeping the border secure. Sajid further added that new system will help to drive the country’s economy, as a global leader it will cement the reputation which will send a clear message to the world that the United Kingdom is open for business.

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Since 2008, the automated ePassport gates have already been available to European Union (EU) and British nationals. They have the liberty to use them even once the UK leaves the EU.

Karen Dee further added that the next important step is to enable more passengers to use ePassport gates to enhance the welcome at the border. However, it will demonstrate that the country is open for tourism and visitors. The gates will also free up Border Force officers for several other duties.

However, the Home Office asserts that Britain is a world leader in automated passenger clearance. It allows more nationalities to use ePassport gates than anywhere else. In September 2018, 51.9 million passengers used the automated gates across the country and juxtaposed controls.

One of the features of these gates is that they use facial recognition technology and compare the passenger’s face to the digital image recorded in their passport. They are again monitored by UK Border Force officers and if anyone is rejected at the gates will be sent to a manned passport where they have to get their identity and passport checked.

The gates can be used by adults and those who are traveling using a chipped or biometric passport. Whereas, aged between 12 to 17 and accompanied by an adult, are also able to use them. Currently, there are 264 ePassport gates in operation with 15 rail and air terminals in the UK.

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