London: The move to digitize the immigration process has been going on for some time, but just a few days ago, the British Border Force introduced eGates for the nationals of a select group of countries. These countries include Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, the United States and all the countries in the European Union. Citizens of these countries can use a total of 259 eGates at fourteen points of entry in the United Kingdom to make their journey quick and easy.
What makes you eGate eligible?
Besides being a national of the countries stated above, the passenger must be more than 18 years of age to use the eGates. Travellers who bring along children can also use these passport gates only if the children are more than 12 years old (supervised by a related adult). Please also make sure that your passport is biometrically readable. British citizens can also use their passports to get back into the country through these ePassport gates quickly.
How to use eGates?
When arriving near the eGates enclosure and waiting for a booth to be vacant, please take this time to remove any headgear to aid your automated identification process. Please take off sunglasses, prescription glasses, caps, headphones, or any clothing that partially or fully covers your face or head. Keep your passport at the ready and pull it out of any covering or document bag. Wait for the green light to illuminate before entering the booth. Once inside, place your luggage in front of you. Open the page of the passport that bears your picture and set that page on the scanner. Press your passport slightly for the scanner to take an image of your details correctly. Please look straight into the camera in the booth and keep still until the camera takes your picture, acknowledges the information collected with the one provided by the Border Force and then gives you an OK with a green light. You can be on your way after that. As simple as that!
Was there a need of eGates?
There are tens of millions of people arriving at busy UK airports like Heathrow every month. This number continues to increase, which necessitates the introduction of a reliable, consistent and quick computerized immigration channel. A digital gateway can assist passengers from affluent and low-security risk counties to enter the UK without any needless delays. Upon increasing the scope of the eGate services, the Minister for Immigration said:
“We want to support the people who expand our economy through tourism and business and at the same time preserve our border security. Increasing the number of nationalities allowed to use ePassport gates furthers this aim. Enhancing the use of computer technology is part of our ambition to improve the passenger experience and meet the challenge of growing passenger numbers head-on.”