UK E-Gates Now Open To US Citizens (And More)

Filed Under: Travel

Up until now, e-gates at immigration in the UK have only been available to those with passports from the UK, EU, EEA, and Switzerland. As of today, eligibility has been expanded by seven countries. This is awesome, since initially this change was only supposed to be made in June, so this is being implemented earlier than expected.

The automated e-gates at immigration in the UK have become available to passport holders from the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • United States

This applies at all UK airports with e-gates, so this isn’t just limited to Heathrow, or anything. There are a total of 264 e-gates in the UK, at 15 air and rail terminals.

There is no registration required to use e-gates as long as you have a passport with a chip. You simply slide your passport onto the reader, step forward, take a picture, and you’ll be on your way.

The one exception is that those under 12 can’t use e-gates, while those who are 12-17 can use the e-gates when accompanied by an adult.

The UK is also abolishing landing cards for all passengers, so there is no longer any paperwork to fill out even if you aren’t eligible to use one of the e-gates.

While the UK has a Registered Traveller program through which select passport holders have been able to get access to these for a cost, under the new system that is no longer be required.

We knew this was coming, since this was part of the UK Parliament’s annual budget which was initially released last fall, and we knew they were planning on implementing this in mid-2019. As of mid-April we were told this would go live in June, though they ended up implementing this a bit earlier than expected.

The UK’s Home Secretary says that “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.”

I’d say this is mostly good news, though I’d also note that this likely means that those who previously had access to e-gates should expect to wait longer. Hopefully they install a significant number of new kiosks, or else we’ll simply see the lines shifting from the regular line to the e-gates.

This will be especially true in Terminal 3 & Terminal 5 at Heathrow in the mornings, when a good percentage of the passengers are arriving from countries that have been added to the e-gates list.

Bottom line

Overall it’s great news that the UK is expanding access to e-gates, and the implementation is even coming sooner than expected. The UK sometimes has awful immigration wait times, so hopefully this goes a long way to combat that.

Thanks to my German passport I’ve had access to e-gates for years, and have never had to wait there. However, with access to e-gates so greatly expanded, I hope that they expand the number of machines that they offer, or at a minimum make sure that all machines are working during peak hours, as often quite a few of them are out.

Even if nothing changes, this should still be good on balance, since using an e-gate takes all of 10 seconds, while an immigration officer processing a passenger usually takes much longer.

How do you feel about the UK expanding e-gate usage for more nationalities? If you enter the UK in the coming days, please report back on how long the lines are!

  1. My selfish take as a UK passport holder: this is terrible news.

    I very often arrive at Heathrow T3 and see the big queues when one of the many, many flights from the US or Australia/NZ (including via Dubai) has landed.

    I really don’t trust the UK border force to install and staff the extra kiosks this change will require – they rarely have all of them working as it is.

    I really sympathise with those of you who have to suffer our immigration lines, and apologise for that, but I feel like this change is only going to make things worse, on average, for everyone.

  2. @Tom 100% agree.

    As a UK Registered Traveller, this is terrible news. Americans make up one of, if not the largest, group of foreign visitors to the UK and this is going to flood the eGates with extra people and will greatly slow down the process. It would be nice if they could add eGates to Fast Track, at least that way we could still get through reasonably quickly. For the past several years, with eGate and Fast Track security access, I have found it easier to forgo the Flight Connections Center and make my inter-terminal transfers (and even intra-terminal) landside. This might change the calculus.

  3. So, eGates without fast-track means the eGates will be as slower or slower than the regular non-EU gates. They could have launched this before or after peak summer tourism season to make sure it works properly.

    I imagine the non-eGates will be quicker in the early morning when all the US flights land at Heathrow.

  4. You can’t use e-gates with children unfortunately. I’m a UK passport holder and have never once used them in the UK. They always send us to the foreigners line.

  5. Somewhat related to this, but I use both global entry and mobile passport depending if there is a line. Today there was an update for mobile passport, that has a plus version that is paid. I also noticed that they removed IAD from the list of airports sometime in March.

  6. Agree with previous, this will be a disaster. Not thought out at all.

    What happens when the small % dont work or get flagged by the machines, and then directed to a desk, of which there is only one, resulting in more bottle necks.
    I cant see this working, but I hope they prove me wrong!

  7. Totally unfair as it’s not reciprocal.

    We have to pay for an ESTA to visit the US , use the self served machine and then stand in line for immigration , yet the government here wants Americans to be able to have a simple no fee entry process

  8. As several people have pointed out, it is very rare for all the egates that have already been installed to be open. So, to cope with the extra volumes, they just need to open more gates.

    Done properly, this shouldn’t increase waiting times for anyone.

    And it’s also good to see the landing cards being ditched. This is the 21st century.

    Though given the shitfest that my country is making of Brexit, I accept there’s every possibility that this egate change will also be a complete disaster.

    Signed, a remoaner

  9. I’m more excited about the abolishing of landing cards – who reads these outdated pieces of dead tree?
    And I agree with others – why don’t the USA reciprocate? They should have to line up for hours like everyone else has to when entering their country.

  10. This sucks! Only the UK would be dumb enough to agree to this. Same priority as foreigners when entering our own country but wait and wait in line when entering theirs.

  11. I still think that all Americans should stand in a long queue and wait at least 3 hours and then be questioned about their childhood 🙂

  12. Will there be any advantage to those who have paid for Registered Traveler? Perhaps a separate queue or set of e-gates for those who continue to pay the fee, or something to that effect?

  13. @ Peter. No, it’s not only the UK that’s dumb enough to do this without reciprocity: Australia did the same, YEARS AGO ( and Australians aren’t even eligible for Precheck ( or whatever the title is) for expedited entry to the US ( it’s just ESTA and queue).
    In respect of Fasttrack: I used it about 2 weeks ago getting off a Club Europe BA flight in T5: complete disaster. One booth open, 5 people in front of me: took 35 minutes because the buffoon processing entry was helping people fill in the forms. Where they find these immigration staff, who knows ,but they plumbed the deep depths of the incompetency pool for this one. Simply idiotic.

    The ordinary lane was 10 times faster.

  14. @ Ryan, Gavin and Paolo:

    Actually, this is a smart move in theory, as it means that even if the UK Brexits (more dubious as each day passes), there still will be a theoretically faster channel separating the (redacted) “few problems” countries from the (redacted) “more problems” ones.

    I agree with Paolo, Fast Track can on occasions be a disaster. One solution would be to install E-Gates also in the Fast Track channel, but with British civil servants, one never knows. That all departing “Fast Track Security” channels at LHR and LGW now have boarding pass readers is encouraging, though.

    Gavin, the LHR E-gates definitely do not like my French passport and my rejection rate is high. Going to the one officer who does a manual check at the exit never takes more than seconds, there seldom is more than one person ahead of me.

    Ryan, I too do my own inter-terminal connections landside without going through the atrocious Flight Connections Center. I find UK immigration to be far less of a problem than the Heathrow Express delays (when trains are not simply cancelled).

  15. They’ve had them in Rome for a while now and it’s been quicker although it’s not wait free. I’ve waited on average 30 minutes before eGates and now it’s about 15 to 20. Of course, it’s hard to really know since there’s no predicting how many flights show up at the same time. I may have been lucky or unlucky in the past. All gates have been open and working when I’ve been there.

  16. @ Donna,

    Everything was working in ROME ? You’ve definitely been lucky.
    The first country where they appeared for US/Japan etc… countries was Finland at Helsinki Airport several years ago but they were at the time different machines from those for the EU, in a separate lane further to the right. It’s logical to have merged the 2 systems, with advancing technology.

  17. @Andy

    The US has allowed UK (and visa waiver countries) use of the APC machines at most, if not all US airports….

  18. I wonder if the list of countries is a preview of which countries will have some sort of agreement with the UK post-Brexit (if it ever happens).

  19. As a US Passport holder who is part of the registered traveler program, I also agree this is terrible news. The e-gates are awesome and a large part of their awesomeness is the lack of lines!

  20. Looks like all those proceeds from the APD that haven’t been sucked into the General Fund are finally being used for something tangible. However, I do agree with many of the other opinions here… the queues will increase. But, when you think about, this does give border agents more time to scrutinize travelers from “less trusted” nations.

  21. I’ve got a little rectangular gold box on the outside bottom front of my passport. Is that a “chip”? It certainly doesn’t resemble the chips on my credit cards, which all look alike. But maybe? Hopefully….

  22. Just google “ePassport symbol”.

    If you have an ePassport, that symbol should appear somewhere on the front cover of your passport.

  23. Yep, according to the always reliable “some guy on YouTube”, that little box is a chip. And all US passports starting in 2008, or possibly late 2007, have one.

  24. Thinking it over, since US Passports expire after 10 years, if it’s true they started putting them on Passports in 2008, all currently valid Passports will have a chip. 😉

  25. @Mitch Cumstein: May I ask whether your children are under-12’s?

    From “You can use automatic ePassport gates at some airports if your passport has a ‘chip’ on it and you’re 12 or over. If you’re between 12 and 17, you must be accompanied by an adult.”

    We’re U.S. passport holders with minor children (Ages 13, 15, 17), so we’ve not needed to think about this issue until now.

    So, if the new rules are essentially extending EEA treatment to other countries (such as the U.S.), would this guidance be applicable to U.S. citizens using the e-gates under the new rules?

    (Compare with, which does not allow under-18s.)

    Would appreciate hearing from you or other families about your experience with kids and e-gates.

  26. I trust the US will be reciprocating this offer and making entry painless for Brits.

    Perhaps The Donald can announce it on his pending visit – which many here are hoping will be cancelled.

  27. These machines often reject my UK passport and I have to go to see the 1 “seek assistance” immigration officer which sometimes has quite a queue.

    I find it often quicker to use the normal EU lines (for families with children and EU identity cards) than bother with the E gates. Although they do try to police it to force you to use the E gates if you qualify

  28. As others above have suggested, I too believe US passport holders should be excluded, in the spirit of the current tit-for-tat American political reality.
    Also I’m surprised the Brits have overlooked the opportunity to monetize this feature; maybe a slot to insert a 10 or 20 quid note for service?

  29. @Tom et al – you guys are extremely selfish! My last trip to the UK I stook in a queue for over an hour with a thousand Chinese. It took 20 seconds to process my US passport while it was taking up to 10 minutes for the people around me. There is no reason why the e-kiosks shouldn’t work for everyone in an efficient manner. Especially if you want a viable economy in the future, you should welcome anything that speeds up the immigration process. I swore at that moment never to visit the UK as a tourist as long as I was going to have to wait in long queues at immigration. This might change my mind.

  30. I was on the registered traveller pilot scheme and just renewed my “membership”. Guess I should’ve waited a bit longer if its now free.

  31. @Pierre

    Sorry, but why are you in disbelief that the e-gates work well in Rome? FCO is one of Europe’s best airports — and, even before Americans could use e-gates at Italian airports, non-Europeans never waited *multiple hours* at Italian airports, like they’ve been forced to wait for years at LHR and CDG.

    Please don’t stereotype Italy, Pierre — it does a lot of things very well, especially compared to the United Kingdom at the moment.

  32. I am confused. I always arrive in at LHR in business class and use that line for passport control. I never really saw much benefit though as there are only a few desks/agents and it seems to move slower than the regular economy class line for foreigners. When this new benefit starts, should I still go to the business class line or will the egates be faster?

  33. @ Anthony — I can’t tell if you’re joking, but count me among those who has waited *multiple hours* on *multiple occasions* when arriving at FCO over the years.

  34. Last time we landed in Venice the lines seemed horribly long but since we were going through egates, it went pretty fast. Then we flew from Italy to London and were in line for over an hour. I watched this this one particular agent question people forever. EVERY person who got in his line was there forever. He hassled a young (early 20’s?) couple for over 15 minutes and of course we got him while my sister and her husband got another agent. They were done a good 5 minutes before us. He asked a ton of questions, wanted to see our tickets home, wanted to know everything. I’m surprised he didn’t ask where we planned to eat. It was a total waste of his time, our time, and the lines just kept growing longer. Even with the line growing, agents kept closing their desks and walking away. Even with extra people going through egates, it has to beat the current system in London. I also think the USA should have egates and that MOST people visiting here should be able to utilize them.

  35. @ Anthony & Tiffany.

    Tiffany, thank you for your support. We’ve both been there. I hope that Anthony is joking because the only alternative would be “delusional”.

    Anthony, I am not stereotyping and as a Frenchman I am JEALOUS of Italy. It was Jean Cocteau who wrote that the French are sad Italians (I tend to agree…). I am in disbelief that the e-gates work well because I have been there, several times. I am not stereotyping Italy which I absolutely love but, let’s face it, its transportation system is not among its achievements. Alitalia, Aeroporti di Roma, Trenitalia and others are in shambles and for me, FCO is the only airport where I have had to Enter and Exit the EU zone during a “Non EU” to “Non EU” connection due to ludicrous gates affectation among the terminals. Once finally there, I was also told that I would have to exist and re-enter if I wanted to visit a lounge.

  36. This is good news.

    What this also does is separate those who are having “issues” from those who can quickly pass through. During my last time through I waited almost an hour, and was only like #25 in line. All six or seven agents had passengers with “issues” and it basically shut down the line.

    When it was finally my turn, I took a total of 30 seconds with the Border Officer.

    20 machines that can clear 1 person every 2 minutes…. thats 10 persons per minute… 100 persons in 10 minutes… etc…. 40 machines 200 people every 10 minutes…

  37. Fantastic news! This will help cut the time to enter the country and is what many airports across the world are already doing very successfully.

  38. Would people get the choice on whether to use the E-Gates or not do you think? For example if they needed to get a stamp from the border agent? Or are they going to be forced to use them by airport staff like UK passport holders are now?

  39. A much bigger and scarier point is being missed here… As of today (20th may) the egate expansion is active for USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore and South Korea… This means that an immigration officer will not be speaking to these people, we will have no idea why they have come or for how long….they won’t get a stamp in their passports and so are untracked…. Finger prints are no longer going to be scanned for those with entry clearances…

    The government is putting the “flow” of non-ea people about not only the flow of returning residents, but more worryingly the immigration rules which will now be abused readily…

    Unfortunately most brits don’t understand how immigration works at the border as it doesn’t apply to them, that why’s the don’t understand the importance of landing cards for controlled landings and conditions for visitors…

    This is a massive immigration mistake… This is freedom of movement for the B5JSSK

    And there will be racist lines drawn here as the only immigration refusals we have now will be Carribbeans and Africans.

    Watch this space

  40. Totally agree with the border force office

    Another grave issue I have as a British citizen when we visit this USA we need an ESTA, Australia we require a e-Visa and now New Zealand from October 2019 a tourist tax which should be paid in advance

    But these nationalities can now come into our country with very little to no restrictions. This is not good at all

    If some of you remember we had terrible trouble some years ago particularly with Australians and Kiwis overstaying in the UK and working illegally

    This is a shockingly bad idea and for the above mentioned reasons we have no details of non European Union citizens wondering around the UK not good at all !!

  41. “The UK’s Home Secretary says that “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.””

    Translation into non-UK English: “We noticed tiny countries like Uruguay were able to successfully implement this years ago, so just before we go over the cliff here is a little something for 7 additional nations so you won’t stand in queues for 3 hours this summer and curse our utter disorganization and collapsing government.”

  42. “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.”

    For those complaining about reciprocity or potential new delays for those already entering the UK easily, the rationale for the move is as given in the statement by the home secretary. I don’t know how implementation will go – many countries could handle immigration better if they fully staffed existing facilities. Note that I understand the motives for the complaints. As a US citizen I fully understand that my country is terrible about receiving visitors, whether in terms of eligibility, wait times, courtesy, or anything else.

  43. @JJUK
    “If some of you remember we had terrible trouble some years ago particularly with Australians and Kiwis overstaying in the UK and working illegally”

    There was no “terrible trouble”. It was a joy to have those lovely people in our country, and I for one was desperately sorry to see them forced out by some paranoid anti-immigration loons. Earl’s Court hasn’t been the same since.

  44. I went through the eGates last Saturday as a Registered Traveler. Less than half the gates were open. I had several unsuccessful attempts at couple of gates (I was not the only one). Finally found a gate that worked.

    Does not bode well.

  45. @ Michael

    You have been unlucky. I have used the eGates with joy since they first opened (it’s so nice not to have to interact with the mostly unhappy jobsworths in their polyester uniforms of the laughably named “Border Force”). They have never not worked.

    The only complaints I have are how often they only have some gates open – even if there are queues – and one occasion where everyone queuing was summarily sent to the back of the ordinary immigration queues because they had to “change shift”. WTF? That was an unexpected event that took them by surprise? Numpties.

  46. Incredibly stupid decision, this will only make things worse for those who shoud be allowed to use the gates, considering that they are only half open most of the time and can be quite slow.

    And what’s with the totally arbitrary list of countries that can use them, it should be every country or just EU. Pathetic.

  47. Will this be available at Irish points of entry as well (given the Common Travel Area between the UK and Republic of Ireland)?

  48. Good decision. Far sighted of the UK government. Moves the world toward an e-gate future.

  49. @JJUK
    I don’t think so: just how do these razor-sharp minds at the immigration booths determine if someone from Australia or NZ is going to overstay? By asking “ what is the purpose of your visit”, “ do you have friends or family here”, “ what is your next destination” ? Complete waste of time and money.
    They must know who’s arriving on the flights, given the requirement to enter details as part of the ticketing process. Presumably those who are dodgy are weeded out at that point or can be flagged for interrogation on arrival.
    The system should not , cannot, be designed in such a way to cause delay to the 99.99999% of genuine travelers, in the off chance of catching a ratbag.
    I presume there’s a lot more to border control/immigration that we don’t see; I hope so because the bits we do see are Keystone Cops/ Three Stooges-like. US, Australia, UK are just as bad as each other. The difference in the UK is that , at least for now, anyone from the EU breezes through.

  50. I personally think e-gates access should only be available on a reciprocal basis.

    As an example, the immigration experience when arriving in the US as a UK citizen is frankly hostile and very unwelcoming. US citizens should only be given access to e-gates if the US Government is willing to improve the expeirnece for UK citizens on the other side of the pond!

  51. This went live at Midnight last night. FastTrack agent said landing cards are no longer necessary and just flicked it away. Looking forward to using the automated gates next time with my chip-enabled US Passport.

  52. They should install or assign a portion of egate to UK nationals. This way British wouldn’t feel back-stabbed by their own government.

  53. Can’t they make the process for BRP holders easier, instead of standing in the “other countries” queue?

    We’re essentially returning home, so why so much fuss

  54. To any brits moaning about the supposed lack of ESTA reciprocity, I have three words: Air Passenger Duty. Would you feel magically better if instead of charging $14 to enter, you had an extra $100 tax added to your flight? Also, APC terminals are open not only to visa-waiver countries but also to travelers with a B1 or B2 visa (that’s regular business and tourist visitors). Canadians even get to use CBP’s app.

    I get it. CBP officers have a reputation for surly attitudes — even towards US citizens. But enough already! I’ve waited HOURS to get through immigration at NRT, and my dad went through a hellish experience getting into Canada. The US does not have a monopoly on unpleasant immigration experiences.

  55. So, if a US citizen flies to LHR in business and is given Fast Track access, what’s the better move now? Fast Track or just going to the e-gates?

  56. @ Jason
    eGates. Avoid any personal contact with the low-paid / grumpy immigration officers if you possibly can.

  57. Landing at LHR on Sunday morning! Would UK residents prefer I not use the eGates?
    From Minnesota and we are pathologically afraid of being an inconvenience or an imposition.

  58. Only downsides to an eGate that I can see is no passport stamp. I don’t travel as often as I’d like, and I always like to get a stamp if I can. But not if it means a ginormous queue.

  59. As a Brit I think this should only have been offered as part of a reciprocal agreement on e-gates like we have with Australia.

    US citizens should have their own line which operates at 25% of the speed of the slowest.

    Equally, to up the numbers using these gates, more must be open and functioning otherwise all it means is the queues will get longer.

  60. Man this would have been helpful as I flew SFO>LHR Friday. Regular economy, landed around 8am and waited in line at least an hour.
    I’m flying back to the UK from France Saturday and will give it a test!

  61. So i arrived today at LHR T3, on QF1.
    It landed at 7AM.
    Information about the extended country list for eGates was told onboard, as well on the ground, it was advertised at many places.
    There were many LHR employees, who helped the passengers get in to the line, (which was extremely long). The end of the line was about 100m away from the actual hall of immigration.
    This was moving quite fast, all together I had to wait 25-27 minutes to get through. Usually its much less time (I’m an EU citizen).
    There were NO extra gates at T3, and I didn’t recognize any kind of work in progress, indicating that more would be set to use.
    The employees managing the queue did a great job, it was really well-organized.
    Orherwise I felt discriminated. Wherever I go outside the EU, I have to wait in lines for hours (especially in USA and Australia). And the UK had been the only country where lines for these AU/US and other citizens had been significant, just for them to understand, what their countries are doing to millions of foreign travellers. Now they even took this away…

  62. i waited 2 hours at immigration on my flight from USA in January. Im a brit on a kiwi passport and would have welcomed an Egate then. I do agree USA attitudes are horrendously rude and ignorant. I once told an immigration guy i was going to miss my flight if he didnt push me through due to terrible delays and he just looked the other way. Now if that was UK you would have at least got pushed through quicker. I welcome the faster walk through especially if arriving at peak hours

  63. “To any brits moaning about the supposed lack of ESTA reciprocity, I have three words: Air Passenger Duty. Would you feel magically better if instead of charging $14 to enter, you had an extra $100 tax added to your flight?”


  64. Used them today arriving at Gatwick North terminal…it was phenomenal!! No lines…about two minutes, mostly walking, from entering immigration area to being outside in the arrivals hall. Awesome!!

  65. @criced……count me as one of those Americans who has had to wait in line for 3 + hours, questioned on my childhood, purpose of visit and every other inane question they could ask and then got told to wait for more questioning for another hour only to be let go. Multiple times. It works both ways even for us Americans.

  66. When you factor in the outrageous departure tax from the UK, British citizens are still far better off than Americans, Aussies and Kiwis when visiting one another’s countries.

    They are only complaining because they don’t trust their government to instal enough e-gates to absorb the increased demand.

    In many ways this is the first stage of Brexit. Farage has repeatedly said that citizens of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance (Aussies, Americans, Canadians, Kiwis) will no longer be treated worse than EU citizens, and that the country will re-orientate itself back towards the British Commonwealth.

    It makes sense politically and it makes sense economically, as free trade deals with the other four nations in Five Eyes alone would deliver a market 40% larger than the entire EU once the UK is subtracted.

    The bungling of Brexit has been largely due to politicians who voted against it trying to obstruct it. But if it is going to happen, citizens of US/AU/NZ/Canada need to cease to be treated worse than citizens of Bulgaria or Slovenia.

    But if the future of the UK is trade with these countries, it’s smart to stop discriminating against their citizens at the point of entry to the UK.

  67. The UK is clearly doing this as otherwise many potential American tourists will no longer visit the UK. The last time I entered on business I waited over an hour – me and a thousand Chinese who had just landed. It took less than a minute to process me but it was taking 5-10 minutes for some of them. I swore then I would never visit the UK unless required to for business. So it is a smart move to shift people like Americans, Canadians, Japanese etc to the e-gates. If lines develop, it is easier to add machines than hire people.

  68. its just crazy how some of you americans are crying for waiting “almost an hour” at British airports.
    The first time ever I visited New York, I had to wait for 2 hours and 40 minutes. If the passport control in the US is only 1 hour, I leave the airport with a smile on my face.

  69. “Up until now, e-gates at immigration in the UK have only been available to those with passports from the UK, EU, EEA, and Switzerland.”

    Not true. Under the old Registered Traveller Programme, citizens from a small list of “trusted” countries could also use the e-gates. James even wrote about using his Australian passport on the e-gates.

  70. @ Rich
    Welcome to England.

    @ DavidF
    Your “analysis” is utterly wrong, it’s just Little Britain bollocks of the highest order. You want to destroy 40 years of integration (including in manufacturing) in order to “reorientate to the British Commonwealth”? Yes, because Tanzania, Pakistan and Guyana, among others, will definitely replace the wealth we get through being part of a single market with our biggest trading partners in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden…

    Incidentally, have you seen our £350 million a week recently?

  71. What on earth does this have to do with APD? Everyone pays that on a departing flight from the UK? It has nothing to do with the fact that Brits will still be waiting for 2+ hrs at JFK T7 every evening because the APC machines are never working.

  72. A live update so to speak. US citizen that’s a UK Registered Traveller so I have used the e-gates for a while now.

    Tuesday evening (19:30) arrival into Heathrow T5 on BA. E-Gates now clearly signed for the additional 7 countries. No separate line for EU/UK nationals. I know that n=1 does not a trend make, but so far so good.

    Definitely the largest number of e-gates in operation that I’ve ever seen (usually only about half are in use – this time probably almost all of them). As is usually the case, immigration wasnt heaving at this hour but probably the normal amount of flow. Had to wait for two people in front of me, probably less than 5 minutes which is normal. What was different though is the normal immigration lines were empty. Only a few in the regular lanes and Fast Track was empty. For reference on previous trips traveling with non-registered travelers – typically I had to wait anywhere from 5-40 minutes for them to clear Fast Track.

    Seems like it’s working so far. Will be using the T3 e-gates next week, so I’ll update then.

  73. What morons like Peter are missing is that the UK isn’t doing this to “be nice” to those countries – hence why reciprocity is completely irrelevant. eGates save money – the more people they can get to use them, the better.

    Why on Earth do you think a random civil servant or government minister remotely cares whether you have to spend longer in line at US immigration than a US citizen would at UK immigration?

  74. Nice report FlyLots. Can you give us that update on T3? I’ll be taking the coach from Heathrow so it would help my planning.

  75. Thanks, FlyLots, for the update. I am American with Global Entry and Registered Traveller. I realized this morning that I had not gotten my annual email from Border Force reminding me my Registered Traveller was about to expire and I needed to pay £50 to renew. I searched my mail and found nothing, so I went to the RT website and entered my info. A screen said my membership had expired (end of May) and I needed to pay £50 by November 2019 to renew or I would have to reapply for Registered Traveller which would cost £70.

    When I clicked on ‘Renew’ the final screen said: “Travellers from United States of America no longer need Registered Traveller status to use ePassport gates and European desks when entering the UK. Therefore we are no longer accepting membership renewal applications from United States of America.”

    I’ve flown to the UK several times a year for the last 20 years. It’s only been the last 8 years or so that I’m able to fly business (with miles) and the Fast Track line made a difference, but not always. My average wait time, even in the Fast Track line, was typically 1.5 hours. A few times it was almost 3. Because I purchased train tickets in advance to save money, it was always a guessing game what time I could get to St Pancras. Twice the LHR queue was so long I missed my train and had to buy another ticket at twice the price. If the line moved more ‘quickly’ I ended up waiting at the train station. I broke down and got Global Entry for the US a few years ago. What an amazing difference! So I ponied up and applied for Registered Traveller. I’ve only used it about 4 times, but I sailed through immigration eGates at LHR in less than 2 minutes. One time the machine rejected my passport, but the (sole) agent had no one ahead of me and that only took under 5.

    I am of mixed feelings regarding this change. I can’t see ever sailing through in less than 2 minutes again unless I land off-peak (I normally arrive 06:30 or 10:30 and LHR is heaving) or unless they install many more eGates with all of them functional.

    As far as reciprocity and fairness, US Global Entry costs $100 for 5 years and no minimum flights (£79 at today’s exchange rate). Registered Traveller needed a minimum of 4 flights per year and had to be renewed every year at £50 ($63). If you didn’t make 4 flights in a year, you would have to reapply all over once you had notched 4. An American paid (at today’s exchange rate) £79 for 5 years of US entry and £270 for 5 years of UK entry (initial application cost an additional £20). US Global Entry helped me not at all upon landing in the UK. It gives me access to PreCheck lines when departing US airports and access to “eGates” when returning to the US.

    I love the UK. I went to school there for a while and I go back every year to visit friends. I am the first to say Americans do not queue as well as our English cousins, and we certainly have as many jobsworths in the US as the UK. I don’t think any country’s government will ever be as concerned with fairness, justice or reciprocity as its citizens think it should. I figure it’s up to the citizens to be as patient and kind as possible to one another, regardless of what the government does – especially when traveling.

    I travel through LHR in August. By then the new system will be warmed up. I’ll update if I get a chance.

  76. My wife travels on an American passport and visits me here in the U.K. a few times she had stayed for six months. She has never overstayed. But she has been warned and noted on her passport that she “ might be a problem” because she is married to a UK citizen. Will her E passport read this and automatically kick her to be questioned or will she now just pass on through. She is only visiting for 2 months this year but they treat her like a criminal which is humiliating. Thanks.

  77. It’s the job of an immigration officer to make sure that “visitors” are just that, and spending more then 6 months in any rolling 12 month period is what the immigration officer is warning about. The officer needs to be satisfied of the intention of the visitor to leave the UK at the end of their stay… To assess the motivation to return home. It’s not treating anyone like a criminal, it’s ensuring the visitor rules are being adhered to..

    That said the Egates won’t reject anyone unless their passport fails automated safeguard checks (ie embedded chip, UV, IR etc) OR the passenger has been refused entry to the UK before. If they have ever been refused leave to enter the UK the egates will ALWAYS reject them and refer them to an immigration officer who will assess their application for leave to enter.

  78. @Angela

    I’m an American who visits London for much of September and October each year. Last year in 2018 I think I got the same detail-oriented agent at Heathrow. I am an unremarkable US visitor who would not ordinarily merit attention from immigration at all. I stay in a hotel, I visit with friends, I spend lots of money, then I go home.

    This agent didn’t ask me what I planned to eat. Had he insisted, I would have shared my Tesco shopping list with him. But he did grill me in excruciating detail on what I planned to do while in London for five weeks. When I mentioned that I would be attending a bunch of live music and fandom related events with my British friends, he insisted on knowing every detail including the names of my friends. This agent just couldn’t get enough. He kept me there for nearly 20 minutes talking about Marc Bolan. He even asked me whether my naturally curly hair was indeed natural. So I am very much looking forward to checking out these ePassport gates this year.

  79. Hey @CJ, he was hitting on you, didn’t you realize? Completely unacceptable behaviour. A cause for complaint, though I wouldn’t bother. Your immigration status profile would receive a ‘notation’ which wouldn’t help at future entries.

  80. About time and good news – and so much easier to scale and get rid of queues freeing up BF staff to concentrate on more complex cases.

    My dad flew in from NZ last year and it took him about 3 hours to clear immigration. He’s a dual UK and NZ passport holder but his current wife is only a NZ one. NZ has been offering UK passport holders eGate access for years, usually with zero queues. Dad currently has cancer and has previously had a stroke so queuing for 3 hours was hardly ideal for an 85 year old (not a medical tourist, NZ healthcare is great, thanks). His comment when he finally got through was “this is why I left this country – can’t do the basics!” I’m sure that’s many visitors first impressions of our utterly woeful borders and systems.


    “JJUK says:
    May 20, 2019 at 2:40 am
    “If some of you remember we had terrible trouble some years ago particularly with Australians and Kiwis overstaying in the UK and working illegally.This is a shockingly bad idea and for the above mentioned reasons we have no details of non European Union citizens wondering around the UK not good at all !!”


  82. I was excited to use the egates for the first time at LHR this week. When I arrived at T2, there were maybe 200 people in the queue (was around 9am). And it didn’t look to be moving quickly. Rather than wait we decided instead to use the Fast Track passes we received from United.

  83. OK so UK ESTA holders can use passport readers at some US airports now – but fact is you still have to apply for and pay for an ESTA in the first place. Will be interested to know if the finger printing is now also by passed – doubled waiting times at JFK

  84. Hi everyone. I would like to know if they have e passport machines at the rail stations when coming in from Brussels or Paris or does one have to go through regular immigration. Specially coming from Brussels to St Pancras. Thank you. Take care.

  85. My wife is US citizen. Do London Train stations specifically St. Pancras have machines for E passport holders taking Eurorail from Brussels or Paris or will she have to go through immigration and be questioned. Is much longer. Thanks . Take care.

  86. What a bunch of vindictive and vicious people you are.

    Even if they don’t offer the same to us, this change causes no harm.

    Make then wait because we have to wait? You don’t be kind or good to someone because they are kind or good first …

    I travel a lot and with US and other Five Eye people and this change is fantastic.
    The Heathrow queues are so quick still, and I don’t have to wait 1-2 hours at Starbucks for them to get through anymore.

  87. Sam Hart,

    It’s not as “fantastic” as you think…. The nationality that was refused LTE was by a massive margin USA citizens, now they just stroll through the egates… We have no idea why they are here, for how long, when then intend to leave the UK … The immigration rules have been suspended for these B5JSSK nationalities…. With the UK wanting to stem free movement from the EU, We have created free movement now for USA, Canada, Australia, new Zealand, Japan, south Korea and Singapore.

    Other countries won’t reciprocate, because they value their immigration rules….

    We have literally suspected the immigration rules for these nationalities because the airlines and the airports complained about queue times… When we priorities queue times over immigration rules we are in trouble….. Watch this space….

    When we find someone is arrested for climbing the palace walls, or for murdering someone, and the question is asked “how did this person get LTE”…. The response “egate 17 gave them LTE” will cause some soul searching…

  88. Oh, @Dave, I’m guessing you have never joined the “Others” line at LHR and waited, and waited to be ‘processed’ for entry. Strangely enough, the very types of people you would no doubt like to exclude are on the other side of the immigration desks; the jetlagged would need to pinch themselves to remind themselves they were in Little Britain. Guess you’re pretty pissed about that too.

    However, when your Boris sends you spiralling out of Europe, we colonials will be the winners; expedited entry, and a pound reduced to pesos! Bring it on!! Watch this space.

  89. @glen, you sound a little bitter…

    I’m simply pointing out that the UK government has prioritised queue times over immigration policy….. Which is wrong… (And by the way nothing to do with Boris)

    It would be a bit like in America giving guns to just anyone without doing checks in order to get the queues down….. Oh wait….

  90. US Citizen here. I used the new system just today via the eGates. The journey to passport control was longer than the time queueing though the gates.

    Those going through the gates did not get stamped in. The machine didn’t like me my l very much; It told me to see an agent. Right up with no waiting, a quick question, and then passport handed back without a stamp.

  91. Yes. I just went through the e gates with my wife, a US citizen. It took about 10 seconds and was wonderful. It was Heathrow 5. There was hardly anyone in line at the e gates but regular passport control was seriously backed up. I don’t know if trains have same system but flying has never been easier. We really appreciated the new system.

  92. We entered at Rome with our Canadian passports on a multi-country vacation but we’ve been pulled aside both in Brussels and in Zurich by customs who accuse us of entering illegally as we have no entry stamp. They are not aware of this technology and say we are not allowed to use our Canadian passports for egates. There has to be more education. Not enough countries are aware that this is happening.

  93. My wife ( an American passport holder) and I (British passport holder) just flew into Gatwick from France. They have a lot of e-passport machines. We had no problem using the machines. Simple and fast. Wonderful system.

  94. To all who complain about the lack of reciprocity, I wholeheartedly agree. With that said, bear in mind that the UK is much more heavily reliant on American tourists than the reverse. The US is not a country that relies on tourism as a large sector of its economy, and therefore has the luxury of being more discriminating in who it lets in. If the US relied on tourism to the same extent as the U.K., I doubt you’d see the onerous restrictions on entry.

    And to those who complain about Americans, Canadians, Aussies, Japanese, etc… do you really think 99.9% of those citizens have any intention of overstaying limits or engaging in bad behavior? There’s a reason the U.K. has included these citizens as low threat.

    Would you prefer to have to obtain a visa to enter the US like citizens of the 180+ countries of the world who are not part of VWP?

  95. You do realise though, that speaking as an immigration officer, the number one nationality with the highest number of refusals of leave to enter was USA. And now… No America will be refused again.. we have no idea why anyone from USA, Canada, aus, NZ, Japan, singapore or South Korea is coming to the UK, or how long there they will stay.. the immigration rules have been literally thrown out of the window for these people Purley for the sake of queues… Whilst at the same time, slowly down entry back into the UK for British citizens….

    It’s lose lose for Brits…

  96. As a dual citizen of the UK and NZ, I find it funny and a double standard. The number one nationality of overstayers in NZ are Brits and has been for decades. NZ still allows e-gate access to UK passport holders. Surely, back before e-gates, overstayers simply lied to the immigration official. Now, the system should allow immigration officers more time to talk to people that the system suspects of coming here for the wrong reasons. Surely the e-gate system doesn’t simply confirm that their face resembles the passport photo then lets them through.

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