The government has announced landing cards will be abolished and use of ePassport gates will be extended to citizens from a further seven significant inbound tourist markets.
Chancellor Philip Hammond made the announcements during his spring statement on Wednesday (March 13), adding ministers will look at making it easier for people to travel “zero carbon”.
From June, use of ePassport gates at UK airports and Eurostar terminals will be extended to citizens of the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Singapore and South Korea.
“This will significantly reduce queues and improve the flow of passengers and the overall experience at the UK border,” said Hammond.
Landing cards will also be abolished in June, “reducing bureaucracy for travellers and speeding up the processing of passengers on arrival in the UK”.
Dale Keller, chief executive of the Board of Airlines Representatives in the UK, said: “Our 70 airline members will be delighted landing cards are finally to abolished following a long-standing campaign to rid passengers and crew from the hassle of this outdated process.
“We also welcome confirmation of a June commencement to the extension of ePassport gates to the seven additional countries so that the benefits are in place for the summer peak.
“We will be working with airports and Border Force to closely monitor the much-needed improvement in queue times and ensure that sufficient e-gates are in operation at all times.”
The Guardian, however, citing leaked government documents, reports the changes would have a "small" negative impact on the length of queues for ePassport gates.
“Home Office analysts have examined and modelled the impact of an expanded cohort using the e-passport gates," it reports. "The result indicated a small impact on e-passport queue length."
The chancellor also outlined measures to give people the option to travel “zero carbon”.
“The government will launch a call for evidence on offsetting transport emissions to explore consumer understanding of the emissions from their journeys and their options to offset them,” said Hammond.
“This will also look into whether travel providers should be required to offer carbon offsets to their customers.”