03 Aug

ePassport gates

ePassport gates are available to any person aged 18 or over with an EU/EEA/Swiss biometric passport (i.e. with an embedded chip). The gates offer a secure and convenient self-service alternative to the conventional border control process. They use facial recognition technology to compare the passenger’s face to the photograph recorded on the chip in the passport. Once the checks are made, the gate opens automatically for the passenger to go through without the need to see a border officer. Passengers do not need to enrol for this service.

ABTA recently met the UK Border Force and stressed the need to have all the available ePassport gates open to encourage as many eligible passengers as possible to use them instead of standing in the queues for manned kiosks, particularly as some airports are now allowing children of 12 and over to use them.

171 ePassport gates are available across 18 UK airport terminals as follows:

  • Birmingham (Terminal 1)
  • Bristol
  • Cardiff
  • East Midlands
  • Edinburgh
  • Gatwick (North & South Terminals)
  • Glasgow
  • Heathrow  (Terminals 2, 3, 4 & 5)
  • London City
  • Luton
  • Manchester (Terminals 1, 2 & 3)
  • Stansted

This video explains who is eligible for ePassport gates and how to use them.


e-Passport gates were originally restricted to eligible passengers 18 years and over. Children aged 12 and over (facial recognition isn’t effective for under 12s so there will be no further reduction in age) travelling with an adult can now use ePassport gates at certain airport terminals:

  • Birmingham (Terminal 1)
  • Gatwick (North & South Terminals)
  • Heathrow  (Terminals 2, 3, 4 & 5)
  • Luton
  • Manchester (Terminal 1 only)
  • Stansted

European ID cards

Many European countries have ID cards which can be used for travel. However, they are not compatible with ePassport gates and passengers will need to use the manned kiosks.  EU nationals should therefore be encouraged to travel into the UK on their ePassport so as to be able to use the ePassport gates.

Registered Traveller Scheme

Registered Traveller is a membership service which offers faster and more convenient entry at passport control for frequent travellers to the UK. Nationals aged over 18 or over holding a valid visa or being a regular visitor from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and the USA can get faster entry through major UK airports and Eurostar terminals and the choice of using the:

  • ePassport gates (if they have a biometric/chipped passport)
  • UK/EU lanes
  • Registered Traveller lanes (Gatwick only)

Members will no longer need to fill in a landing card, undergo an interview or have their fingerprints taken as a visa holder. Applications to become a Registered Traveller can be made online. The cost is £70 for 12 months (subsequent years are £50).

For more information, go to www.gov.uk/registered-traveller.