Author: Border Force
During popular travel periods, such as school holidays or Christmas holidays, we expect to see an increase in the number of travellers entering the UK border.
We recommend that you follow the faster travel advice below to help us process you quickly and improve your experience at the UK border.
Arriving at the border
Always keep your passport and travel documents with you – don’t be tempted to pack them away in your luggage as you will need to show your passport on your arrival.
To avoid delays, when you arrive at UK passport control, please:
- remove your passport from its cover and have it open at the photo page
- take off any hats, headphones and sunglasses
- put mobile phones or tablets away when it’s time to see an officer
- stay together when travelling as a family
Use the eGates for quicker entry
There are over 250 eGates in place at 15 air and rail ports in the UK to enable quicker travel into the UK.
You can normally use eGates if you:
- have a biometric symbol on the cover of your passport
- are aged 12+ (12 to 17 year olds must be accompanied by an adult)
- are either:
- a British citizen
- a national of an EU country, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland or the USA
- a member of the Registered Traveller Service
Those travelling with ID cards cannot use the eGates.
Getting your passport stamped by a Border Force officer
You should see a Border Force officer and get your passport stamped if you’re coming to the UK:
- for short term study of up to 6 months
- with a Tier 5 Creative and Sporting Certificate of Sponsorship for short-term assignments (up to 3 months)
- to carry out Permitted Paid Engagements
- as the family member of an EEA national seeking to join them permanently in the UKand you’re a national of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea or the USA
If you use the eGates, please see a Border Force officer before you leave the port to receive a stamp in your passport.
Withdrawal of landing cards
Non-EEA passengers do not need to complete a landing card when they arrive in the UK.
Advice for families travelling with children
If you are travelling with a child (under 18) and are not the child’s parent or may appear not to be the parent (for example, if you have a different family name), we may ask you a few questions to establish your relationship with the child.
We do not wish to delay your journey any longer than necessary and it may help if you carry evidence of your relationship with the child and/or the reason why you are travelling with the child, this could include copies of:
- a birth or adoption certificate showing your relationship with the child
- a divorce or marriage certificates if you are the parent but have a different surname to the child
- a letter from the child’s parent(s) giving authority for the child to travel with you and providing contact details if you are not the parent
Bring 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 eGates
Pay to FastTrack passport control at UK airports
You can pay a small fee to ‘fast track’ passport control checks if you are travelling through the following UK airports
The cost per person and details of FastTrack services may vary by airport, please visit the relevant airport website to find out more.
Travelling through an airport
On arrival into the airport, look out for the signs for where you should go and follow the instructions on display.
Travelling through a seaport
For people in vehicles, please have your windows open and any curtains drawn so we can see into your vehicle.
You will need to show your passport and travel documents when requested.
If you are travelling by bike or motorcycle, please remove your helmet, including open-faced helmets.
If the Border Force officer can’t identify you or your passengers, this will delay your journey.
Travelling by coach or mini bus
All passengers must get off the coach or mini bus with their passports at border control so that a Border Force officer can check them face to face. Passengers should be prepared for crossing the border by:
- putting on shoes and coats
- individually (including children) holding your own passport or travel document
- letting passport control know that you are the leader of the group
- leaving any food and drinks on the vehicle
- leaving all luggage on board; if Border Force needs to search the luggage this will be organised separately
Read our guide to entering the UK for more details about coming to the UK.
Know what you can or can’t bring into the UK
There are restrictions or bans on bringing some food products such as fish, eggs and honey, some fruits and vegetables as well as live plants, traditional medicines or products of animal origins.