Australian travellers entering the United Kingdom will be fast-tracked through immigration from next year under policy changes announced overnight by Chancellor, Philip Hammond.
The modification to “enhance the UK border experience” was outlined as part of the British Government’s extensive 2018 Budget, in which Hammond said would send a message to the world that Brexit Britain was clearly “open for business”.
“In 2019, the government will introduce change at the UK border to enhance the experience for business and leisure travellers to the UK,” the paper states.
“As part of this, citizens of the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Japan will, by next summer, be able to use the ePassport gates at UK ports, significantly improving the flow of passengers at busy airports such as Heathrow.”
Currently, the UK permits citizens of EEA (European Economic Area) nations to utilise its ePassport gates. Those countries include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
The strategy will see Australians bypass the long queues at London’s Heathrow Airport, which at a recent peak extended to 2.5 hours to process arrivals.
Australia’s High Commissioner George Brandis praised the move enabling Aussies to use ePassport gates, saying, “we’ve been working towards this for some time so it is great to see it announced”.
Lead image credit: The Times