Ask Finder: Can Australians use electronic passport gates in the UK?
New rules make it easier for Aussie travellers.
The lengthy queues after landing at Heathrow have always been a nuisance for Australian visitors to the UK. Fortunately, they're no longer going to be an issue for most of us.
From 20 May 2019, the UK has opened up its ePassport scheme to allow Australian passport holders visiting the country to use electronic passport gates, rather than having to queue up and be individually interviewed by an immigration officer.
That means you can just use the UK/EEA lanes at border control, the official UK Border Force site confirms.
To take advantage of this, you'll need a biometric passport with a chip in it. Fortunately, all Australian current passports include this.
The main exception is if you're travelling with children aged under 12. In that case, you will still need to queue and be interviewed.
Australians can visit the UK for up to six months as tourists without requiring a specific visa. Student visa holders or those moving to the UK to work will need a visa (and can't use the electronic gates).
Airport queues for non-EU visitors to the UK can often be lengthy, especially first thing in the morning at Heathrow, so this could make a big difference to how long you spend hanging around. In the past, I've always been able to assume my luggage will have hit the carousel by the time I've cleared immigration, but now I'm not so sure.
As well as applying at all UK airports with electronic gates, the same exemption will be available for the Eurostar train from St Pancras.
An added bonus is that Australians don't need to fill out a landing card either. The same ePassport and landing card exemptions are also being extended to visitors from New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Canada and the US.
Ask Finder is a regular column where Finder's expert writers answer your questions. All rates and fees are correct at time of publication and we only give general advice. Got a question for Points Finder? Hit us up on Facebook.
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