UK's ePassport gate immigration facility to be extended to Singaporeans from summer of 2019

LONDON – Singaporeans visiting Britain will be eligible to use automated ePassport gates when entering the country from the summer of 2019, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said on Tuesday (Dec 4).

The facility, currently only available to British and European Union nationals, will allow faster and secure processing of passengers entering Britain’s borders, with a statutory instrument set to be laid before Parliament shortly. The ePassport gate facility will also be extended to South Korean passport holders.

“The UK is absolutely open for business from the rest of the world and as part of that, we are improving the experience for travellers coming into the UK,” Mr Javid said in a press statement issued by the British Home Office.

“I’m pleased to announce today that, in addition to the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, we will be allowing passengers from Singapore and South Korea to use ePassport gates when they travel into the UK – a transformational experience for the passengers involved.”

The new proposal builds upon a plan to allow nationals from the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Japan to use ePassport gates.

This will give an additional 6.5 million passengers an automated route into Britain every year.

ePassport gates use facial recognition technology to compare passengers’ passport photographs with their appearance. Anyone rejected by the gates will be sent to an alternative manned channel for a check by Border Force officers monitoring the systems.

In addition, all passengers are automatically checked against Border Force systems and watchlists.

At present, there are 259 ePassport gates in operation at 14 ports around Britain and juxtaposed control locations. People aged 18 and over travelling with a biometric or “chipped” passport can use them. Children aged 12 to 17 can also use them if accompanied by an adult.

Singapore is already one of seven countries, including South Korea, that is on the UK’s Frequent Travellers’ programme. It’s a by-invitation programme where frequent travellers from these seven countries pay £70 (S$121.66) a year, and can go through the e-gates.

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