Australian passports can now be used at UK airport e-passport gates

By Chris Chamberlin, May 21 2019

UPDATE: 21 MAY 2019 | Australian travellers can now swipe their passports at the automated e-passport gates of all UK airports, bypassing the slow and snaking lines for the staffed immigration desks – a move which will be especially welcome when it comes to beating the morning queues at London's busy Heathrow hub.

Also on the fast-track list are visitors from New Zealand, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Canada and the USA.

Although the streamlined system was due to take effect around June, the UK government opened its e-passport gates to travellers from all seven countries overnight.

No special advance registration is needed to use the e-passport gates at UK airports, as well as the Eurostar rail terminals at St Pancras and Ebbsfleet International.

The UK is also scrapping landing cards for all passengers – not just those who come through the e-passport gates.

PREVIOUS | All Australian passport holders will be able to skip the often-lengthy immigration queues at United Kingdom airports from next year with the UK Government opening its ePassport lanes to Australian travellers, along with those from New Zealand, the USA, Canada and Japan.

Set to come online by “next summer” – that’s June 2019 in the UK – the development will largely make the UK’s paid Registered Traveller scheme redundant for Australians, as access to the ePassport channels on arrival in the UK, particularly at London Heathrow, is the program’s biggest perk.

Currently, free use of the ePassport lanes is a privilege reserved for UK and EU/EEA passport holders, as Australians who are regular UK visitors can pay a fee of approximately $122 in the first year to join Registered Traveller to access the ePassport channels, and $87 to renew for a further 12 months.

Once the changes take effect next year, Aussies would no longer require a paid Registered Traveller membership to breeze through the ePassport lanes: it’d simply be free.

Under today’s system, passengers eligible for the ePassport lanes – including Australians enrolled in the Registered Traveller scheme – don’t need to complete a UK landing card, and if those arrangements continue next year, it’ll be another welcome change for Aussie travellers.

The changes were detailed by the United Kingdom’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, during a budget statement given to the House of Commons at the Palace of Westminster in London on Monday.

“I can announce a package of measures to stimulate business investment and send a message loud and clear to the rest of the world: Britain is open for business,” said the Chancellor.

“We’ll open the use of ePassport gates at Heathrow and other airports … currently only available to EEA nationals … to include visitors from the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Japan.”

In the meantime, however, Australian travellers who have visited the UK at least four times in the past 24 months can continue to make use of Registered Traveller to skip the queues at UK passport control.

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ChrisCh
ChrisCh

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

kimshep

kimshep

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 474

Whilst there is no question that this is a highly welcome news item for Australian travellers, it is simply a case of "give with one hand and take with the other".

In Hammond's same speech, he announced that the British APD (Airline Passenger Duty) Tax will rise for all long-haul flights - which will undoubtedly be passed on to Australian travellers, whilst retaining the current short-haul tax by way of a 'cap'.

So, it's a small win for convenience - and a large cash 'boo' for travellers and airlines on long-haul.

moa999

moa999

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1372

APD only increasing by rate of inflation for longhaul. £2 for economy, £4 for premium cabins.

So not a significant change

Joe

Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 359

Still, it's the best possible news for an Aussie using LHR frequently! Well done UK Government. Those wait times, even in Fast Track were horrendous more often than not.

JKH

JKH

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Sep 2017

Total posts 127

Welcome news. LHR passport control is a pain.

Pegasus

Pegasus

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Jun 2012

Total posts 45

I'm a paid Registered Traveller (AU passport now living in the UK) so this is good news for me.

Any idea why the new scheme includes the US and Japan? I can understand members of the Commonwealth, but why the inclusion of those two?

mviy

mviy

05 May 2016

Total posts 522

They are important allies and trading partners.

Rufus1

Rufus1

04 Dec 2013

Total posts 122

First world countries, low risk of overstaying.

Benrett

Benrett

13 May 2013

Total posts 6

I doubt it has anything to do with the Commonwealth, more likely these governments have existing citizen data-sharing agreements with the UK?

MELflyer

MELflyer

03 Nov 2015

Total posts 9

This is excellent news, I was going to join the Registered Traveller scheme but won't bother now! Also, this will mean less stamps in my passport which is good since the Govt no longer issues those extra-thick frequent traveller passports.

alex_upgrade77

alex_upgrade77

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Sep 2012

Total posts 244

This is great news for Aussies, although the lines for the epassport gates are about to get a lot longer with the addition of all these countries plus - expectedly - the EU member states who will get preferetial status unless there is a hard brexit.

ExLibris76

ExLibris76

09 Jul 2012

Total posts 27

Excellent news for those who travel regularly to the UK. I've truly never minded waiting in line at passport control at LHR (hey, its England; queueing is practically a national pastime anyway). Practically gotten used to it now.

It's the extended passive/aggressive grilling from surly, power-tripping immigration officials I find objectionable. Their U.S. counterparts are actually polite in comparison. Only once was courteous service rendered. That was (judging by my interaction with him) a UK immigration official of Hong Kong Chinese background. I can't help but think that if this regular treatment gets dished out to us very bland and polite middle-aged Aussie and Kiwi passport holders....how much more worse is it for those unlucky passport holders from the 'wrong' countries? I say hooray for any measure that cuts out having to deal with those miserable sods!

APACPete

APACPete

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Jun 2017

Total posts 15

Came into LHR T4 on Sunday morning around 5 from the Malaysian flight looking forward to using my Registered Traveller status for the first time. ePassport gates were closed as it was early but had a very friendly immigration officer put yet another UK stamp in my passport for me. Was still the quickest I have ever been through.

Nick Sydney 2

Nick Sydney 2

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2015

Total posts 223

My GB passport had expired and so ended up in the aliens line for 90 mins once and fast track for 20 mins last week. Welcome news and recognises what we have here for GB travellers

guy

guy

05 Mar 2012

Total posts 26

Funny that they don't make a fuss if a British citizen enters on a foreign passport. Do that in Australia and they get very upset with you...

guy

guy

05 Mar 2012

Total posts 26

"'next summer” – that’s June 2019 in the UK'. Summer is only one month in the UK? Oh wait ... that's probably true!

Flying High

Flying High

13 Feb 2015

Total posts 38

Hopefully the ePassport gates at Heathrow work better than the ones at Sydney. Failed for me coming back into the country last weekend. And judging by the queue I was then asked to join, I wasn't the only one for whom they didn't work...

dragonfly

dragonfly

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Apr 2013

Total posts 55

Fabulous news - thanks Chris. Any news about whether Aussies can use Global Entry or eGates in the USA?

melbtraveler

melbtraveler

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jan 2015

Total posts 54

Great news.

Nick Sydney 2

Nick Sydney 2

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2015

Total posts 223

The LHR queue for the QF1 arrival is a nightmare. So great news.

Saffy22

Saffy22

07 Jul 2017

Total posts 1

Interesting to see if E gate or Fast Track will be quicker. Hopefully some more feedback on that soon. I always pick the wrong lane!

Tasclean

Tasclean

QF LTG

29 Feb 2016

Total posts 10

Used e-Gate on Wed at heathrow T2, all good, well signed, no queue etc, bu had to try 2 gates before my passport was accepted, ditto Mrs Tasclean with a brand new passport. The LHR readers mite be in trial mode, so expect the odd ‘unable to process, see staff’ refusal message..

MrO

MrO

Etihad - Etihad Guest

24 Apr 2013

Total posts 1

Had paid for the service for the past few years … a great time saver. The reverse was true last night (May 23), where the line for the e-gates at T2 at Heathrow were much slower than the staffed gates. I elected to go via the staffed gates, and was through in a few minutes. Interesting, Ethiopian Airlines did not provide landing cards, but returning from Germany in the evening Brussels Airlines was still handing them out.

Zaps1971

Zaps1971

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Aug 2014

Total posts 76

It at applying to Gatwick also?

Dazzler

Dazzler

Etihad - Etihad Guest

24 May 2019

Total posts 1

Chris, we are leaving for Paris tomorrow and Eurostar to London a few days later. You mentioned using the smart-gate machines at St Pancras ( ? For exit, as you clear entry at Gare du Nord). Any idea if the UK will install smart-gates at Gare du Nord, otherwise the new arrangements don’t really help?

TheFreqFlyer

TheFreqFlyer

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 35

What about EU passport holders? Am assuming they can just breeze through? I ask because I happen to be a dual citizen. Although I've never been to the UK before, when I do go I would be entering on my EU passport, not my Australian one.

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