ePassport gates are automated self-service barriers operated by the UK Border Force and located at immigration checkpoints in arrival halls in some airports across the United Kingdom, offering an alternative to using desks staffed by immigration officers. The gates use facial recognition technology to verify the user's identity against the data stored in the chip in their biometric passport.
At present, British citizens, European Economic Area citizens and citizens of Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States who are enrolled in the Registered Traveller Service, can use ePassport gates, provided that they are aged either 18 and over or 12 and over travelling with an adult and holding valid biometric passports.
How does it work
To use the ePassport gates, you must have a ‘chipped’ biometric UK, EU, EEA or Swiss passport. These ePassports have the biometric logo on the front cover. The ePassport gate reads all the information contained in the chip inside the passport, while an officer at a control station behind the gates checks that the image captured by the camera matches the one on the passport (facial recognition).
At present, ePassport gates are available at the following locations:
- Birmingham Airport
- Bristol Airport
- Cardiff Airport
- East Midlands Airport
- Edinburgh Airport
- Eurostar St Pancras Terminal
- Eurostar Brussels-Zuid Terminal
- Gatwick Airport (North and South Terminals)
- Glasgow Airport
- Heathrow Airport (Terminals 2, 3, 4 and 5)†
- London City Airport
- Luton Airport
- Manchester Airport (Terminals 1, 2 and 3)
- Stansted Airport
† Heathrow Airport Terminal 1 became obsolete on 29 June 2015.
- Iris Recognition Immigration System (another type of automated self-service barriers used by the Border Force at Heathrow Airport (Terminals 3 and 5))
- SmartGate - a similar system operated in Australia and New Zealand
- Parafe - a similar system operated in France