During popular travel periods, such as the half term and the summer or Christmas holidays, we expect to see an increase in the number of travellers entering the UK border.
We recommend that you follow the advice below to help us process you quickly and improve your experience at the UK border.
What to do at the border
Have all your travel documents ready
If you have everything prepared before you reach UK border control, we will be able to process you without any delay. You should have your passport open at the photo page and remove any holders or covers.
Check our guide to entering the UK for an overview of everything you need to know about coming to the UK.
Using your passport rather than an ID card
If you are an EEA citizen, you may find it faster to use your passport rather than your EEA national identity card at the UK border. This is because:
- passports are faster for our Border Force officers to process
- you can use your EU passport at our ePassport gates
Passengers who use the ePassport gates generally pass through border control faster than passengers who do not. Those travelling with ID cards instead of passports cannot use the ePassport gates.
Keep your party together and be ready for your identity inspection
You should remove all hats and sunglasses so that you are ready for your identity inspection. If you are at a seaport and travelling by bike or motorcycle, you will need to remove your helmet. This includes open-faced helmets. If the Border Force officer can’t identify you, this will delay your journey.
Our video explains what you can expect at the border if you are not sure of what to look out for when you arrive in the UK.
Travelling through an airport
Use the electronic passport (ePassport) gates
If you are travelling through an airport, our ePassport gates are often faster to use.
You can use an ePassport gate if you:
- are an UK, EU, EEA, Swiss passport holder or a Registered Traveller member
- have a biometric symbol on the cover of your passport
- are aged 18 or over (in some airports, ePassport gates accepts travellers aged 12 or over when travelling with an adult)
Join Registered Traveller if you are an international traveller
If you have a valid passport from an eligible country, you can apply to become a Registered Traveller. As a Registered Traveller you can use the UK/EU and ePassport lanes instead to speed up your entry through the UK border. Border Force officers aim to clear the majority of UK and EEA nationals within 25 minutes and non-EU citizens within 45 minutes.
Stay together when travelling as a family
You can usually receive your identity check with your family. Please make sure all members of your family:
- remove passports from their covers and open them on their photo pages
- have their documents out and ready for inspection
- remove their hats and sunglasses
Use the ePassport gates when possible
Many major airports, including Birmingham, Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton and Manchester accept children aged 12 to 17 through their ePassport gates.
They must be travelling with an adult over 18 years to be able to use the ePassport gates. You can check whether you can use the ePassport gates when you arrive at the UK border.