Travel to the UK just got a bit easier: the destination is now allowing citizens of the United States and Canada to use its ePassport gates. Previously, the gates had only been open to people from the UK and European Union.
VisitBritain says that the move will significantly reduce lines and improve the flow of passengers, as well as the overall experience, at the UK border. The gates are currently available at 15 air and rail terminals in the UK, including Heathrow, as well as the Eurostar terminals at Brussels and Paris.
The gates are available to travelers aged 18 and up who are traveling using a biometric or “chipped” passport. Travelers 12 to 17 years of age can also use them when accompanied by an adult.
The gates use facial recognition technology to compare the passenger’s face to the digital image recorded in their passport. Travelers eligible to use the gates are also exempt from the landing card requirement.
If a traveler is rejected at the gate, they are sent to a manned passport check to have their identity and passport checked.
VisitBritain says that the U.S. is the UK’s most valuable inbound visitor market for tourism spend. The organization is forecasting 3.9 million visits from the U.S. this year, with forward flight bookings from the U.S. to the UK currently tracking 8 percent ahead for arrivals from May to July this year compared to the same period last year.