Complaints procedure

Find out how to complain about Border Force and how we deal with complaints.

We are currently consulting on improving complaint handling across government. You can feed back on the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s office.

Email or write to us if you have a complaint about:

  • the standard of service received from Border Force
  • the professional conduct of Border Force staff or contractors

Complaints should be made no later than 3 months after the date of the incident unless there are exceptional circumstances.

We are unable to consider the merits of an individual decision such as the seizure of goods and appeals regarding the refusal of leave to enter the UK, for which there are established appeal routes, even where the grounds for appeal may be limited by legislation.

Border Force officers wear a dark blue uniform with epaulettes on their shoulders displaying their identification number. If the member of staff was not wearing this uniform then your complaint is not about a Border Force official and you should contact the relevant organisation directly with your concerns.

Arriving at the border

Border security is our top priority. We carry out checks on everyone when arriving at the UK border to help keep the country safe and secure.

There will be occasions when a lot of passengers arrive at the border at the same time due to delayed flights or a number of flights arriving in a short space of time, which may result in a longer wait while we carry out our essential border security checks.

To help speed up your entry to the UK, we provide a range of faster travel advice including packing the right travel documents if you are a family travelling with children with different surnames or joining our Registered Traveller Service if you are an eligible traveller from a non EU country.

We are unable to comment on specific reasons for additional checks on travellers at the border.

Using ePassport gates

UK and EEA passengers with a biometric electronic chip in their passport can use our ePassport gates to pass quickly through immigration control.

Up to 10 gates can be monitored by one officer, allowing us to move staff to other border security work. If, for any reason the gate doesn’t work, you will be directed to a Border Force officer.

There are occasions when we need to temporarily close one or some of the ePassports gates.

We may do this for a number of reasons including:

  • in quieter times, such as late night or early mornings, when it is more efficient for arriving passengers to be checked by officers
  • if a gate may need an IT or system update
  • when a large number of arriving passengers, who can’t use the gates are expected and officers need to be available to carry out manual checks

Charges levied on imported goods

If you believe customs duty/import VAT was wrongly calculated on an item you imported by post (Royal Mail or Parcelforce) use form BOR286.

Detention centre facilities or conduct of staff

You can contact detention services direct using their complaint form Annex D: revised DCF9.

Goods or a vehicle seized

Goods and vehicle seizures are dealt with by the national post seizure unit.

Your visa or visa application

You can contact UK Visas and Immigration if you have a complaint about your visa or visa application.

Report illegal immigration or smuggling

You can use the contact form if you believe someone is working illegally, or has made a false application to stay in the UK, or is involved in smuggling.

Request personal information or access to government data

You can make a subject access request to see your own information or on someone else’s behalf. To obtain other government data and statistics, you can contact Home Office.

If you want to complain about other areas of the Home Office

Other areas of the Home Office have their own complaints procedures:

How to complain

If you have a complaint about our service or professional conduct then tell us as much information about yourself as you can. This will help us to find the information relevant to your complaint, and to contact you about it. The information you should provide is listed below:

  • your full name and email/postal address
  • full details of the matter you are complaining about including times, dates and locations, such as flight number (if applicable), airport and terminal
  • the names or identifying numbers of the Border Force officers concerned. If you are unable to do this, please provide a full description of each officer
  • your passport number and date of birth or a copy of the biometric data page of your passport
  • a copy of the page in your passport stamped by the officer concerned, if applicable
  • copies of any relevant letters, paperwork or references that relate to the matter
  • evidence of any damage caused, for example photographs and any quotes, invoices and receipts to support your claim

We can only accept complaints in English and Welsh.

We must have written authority to disclose information about another person. Therefore, to complain on behalf of someone else, please ask them to complete our Border Force third party authority form (PDF, 94.8 KB, 1 page) and ensure it includes their hand written signature.

Email us with the required information at

What happens next?

Your complaint will be managed by our correspondence team. They’re responsible for ensuring that your complaint is resolved in a satisfactory and timely manner. We’ll send you an acknowledgement when you make a complaint and we may contact you during an investigation for further information.

Read the complaints management guidance for further information about how we deal with your complaints.

How long will it take?

We’ll investigate your complaint and reply to you within 20 working days. We will contact you if we need more time to investigate your complaint. If your complaint suggests serious professional misconduct we aim to respond within 12 weeks, following an impartial investigation.

Serious complaints

If you make a very serious complaint we may refer it to the Home Office’s professional standards unit who will write to you and inform you that they are handling your case. If you’ve made a complaint about serious professional misconduct, the investigators will tell you the outcome. Their letter will tell you who to contact if you’re still not satisfied with the outcome.

If you’re not satisfied

If you’re not satisfied with our response, you can ask us to review the matter.

A member of staff will carry out an independent review of your complaint. They will provide you with further details within 20 working days of the date when you ask for a review.

If you’re still not satisfied at this stage, you may be able to raise the matter with the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman who may be able to help you.

If you are unable to email, you can also write to us at:

Complaints Allocation Hub
Central point of receipt
7th Floor
Lunar House
40 Wellesley Road

You can download and print the Border Force complaints and compliments form (PDF, 657 KB, 2 pages).

All correspondence sent by post will not receive a reply within normal timescales because of coronavirus.