Registered Traveller redundant: UK to open ePassport gates to Aussies

Registered Traveller redundant: UK to open ePassport gates to Aussies

All Australian passport holders will be able to skip the often-lengthy immigration queues at United Kingdom airports from next year with the UK Government opening its ePassport lanes to Australian travellers, along with those from New Zealand, the USA, Canada and Japan.

Set to come online by “next summer” – that’s June 2019 in the UK – the development will largely make the UK’s paid Registered Traveller scheme redundant for Australians, as access to the ePassport channels on arrival in the UK, particularly at London Heathrow, is the program’s biggest perk.

Currently, free use of the ePassport lanes is a privilege reserved for UK and EU/EEA passport holders, as Australians who are regular UK visitors can pay a fee of approximately $122 in the first year to join Registered Traveller to access the ePassport channels, and $87 to renew for a further 12 months.

Once the changes take effect next year, Aussies would no longer require a paid Registered Traveller membership to breeze through the ePassport lanes: it’d simply be free.

Under today’s system, passengers eligible for the ePassport lanes – including Australians enrolled in the Registered Traveller scheme – don’t need to complete a UK landing card, and if those arrangements continue next year, it’ll be another welcome change for Aussie travellers.

The changes were detailed by the United Kingdom’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, during a budget statement given to the House of Commons at the Palace of Westminster in London on Monday.

“I can announce a package of measures to stimulate business investment and send a message loud and clear to the rest of the world: Britain is open for business,” said the Chancellor.

“We’ll open the use of ePassport gates at Heathrow and other airports … currently only available to EEA nationals … to include visitors from the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Japan.”

In the meantime, however, Australian travellers who have visited the UK at least four times in the past 24 months can continue to make use of Registered Traveller to skip the queues at UK passport control.

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Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!
 

19 comments

  • kimshep

    kimshep

    30 Oct, 2018 12:14 pm

    Whilst there is no question that this is a highly welcome news item for Australian travellers, it is simply a case of "give with one hand and take with the other".

    In Hammond's same speech, he announced that the British APD (Airline Passenger Duty) Tax will rise for all long-haul flights - which will undoubtedly be passed on to Australian travellers, whilst retaining the current short-haul tax by way of a 'cap'.

    So, it's a small win for convenience - and a large cash 'boo' for travellers and airlines on long-haul.

    Member who gave thanks

    JKH

  • Joe

    Joe

    30 Oct, 2018 03:14 pm

    Still, it's the best possible news for an Aussie using LHR frequently! Well done UK Government. Those wait times, even in Fast Track were horrendous more often than not.
    Member who gave thanks

    Dramagirl

  • Jason Hamilton

    JKH

    30 Oct, 2018 04:21 pm

    Welcome news. LHR passport control is a pain.
    No member give thanks

  • Peggy Hayes

    Pegasus

    30 Oct, 2018 04:45 pm

    I'm a paid Registered Traveller (AU passport now living in the UK) so this is good news for me.

    Any idea why the new scheme includes the US and Japan? I can understand members of the Commonwealth, but why the inclusion of those two?
    No member give thanks

  • mviy

    mviy

    30 Oct, 2018 05:04 pm

    They are important allies and trading partners.
    No member give thanks

  • Peggy Hayes

    Pegasus

    30 Oct, 2018 07:09 pm

    I suppose so. But with all these people now eligible to access the UK using the ePassport lanes, won't it simply slow it down and defeat the purpose.
    No member give thanks

  • hutch

    hutch

    30 Oct, 2018 10:00 pm

    It may not necessarily be about making things quicker for you. It may be about making things quicker for those who will still need manual passport control or allowing some staff reallocation or reduction. They may also just add some extra machines before bringing on the new countries, to deal with the issue you've highlighted.
    No member give thanks

  • Peggy Hayes

    Pegasus

    30 Oct, 2018 10:58 pm

    I'm still waiting for the "Pegasus Only" machine... :)
    No member give thanks

  • Rufus1

    Rufus1

    31 Oct, 2018 10:31 am

    First world countries, low risk of overstaying.
    No member give thanks

  • Benrett

    Benrett

    31 Oct, 2018 01:19 pm

    I doubt it has anything to do with the Commonwealth, more likely these governments have existing citizen data-sharing agreements with the UK?
    No member give thanks

  • MELflyer

    MELflyer

    30 Oct, 2018 06:23 pm

    This is excellent news, I was going to join the Registered Traveller scheme but won't bother now! Also, this will mean less stamps in my passport which is good since the Govt no longer issues those extra-thick frequent traveller passports.
    No member give thanks

  • Alex_upgrade

    alex_upgrade77

    30 Oct, 2018 09:42 pm

    This is great news for Aussies, although the lines for the epassport gates are about to get a lot longer with the addition of all these countries plus - expectedly - the EU member states who will get preferetial status unless there is a hard brexit.
    No member give thanks

  • ExLibris76

    ExLibris76

    30 Oct, 2018 11:04 pm

    Excellent news for those who travel regularly to the UK. I've truly never minded waiting in line at passport control at LHR (hey, its England; queueing is practically a national pastime anyway). Practically gotten used to it now.

    It's the extended passive/aggressive grilling from surly, power-tripping immigration officials I find objectionable. Their U.S. counterparts are actually polite in comparison. Only once was courteous service rendered. That was (judging by my interaction with him) a UK immigration official of Hong Kong Chinese background. I can't help but think that if this regular treatment gets dished out to us very bland and polite middle-aged Aussie and Kiwi passport holders....how much more worse is it for those unlucky passport holders from the 'wrong' countries? I say hooray for any measure that cuts out having to deal with those miserable sods!
    No member give thanks

  • Peter Gingell

    APACPete

    31 Oct, 2018 12:48 am

    Came into LHR T4 on Sunday morning around 5 from the Malaysian flight looking forward to using my Registered Traveller status for the first time. ePassport gates were closed as it was early but had a very friendly immigration officer put yet another UK stamp in my passport for me. Was still the quickest I have ever been through.
    No member give thanks

  • Nick  Sydney 348

    Nick Sydney 2

    31 Oct, 2018 08:03 am

    My GB passport had expired and so ended up in the aliens line for 90 mins once and fast track for 20 mins last week. Welcome news and recognises what we have here for GB travellers
    No member give thanks

  • guy

    guy

    31 Oct, 2018 01:25 pm

    Funny that they don't make a fuss if a British citizen enters on a foreign passport. Do that in Australia and they get very upset with you...
    No member give thanks

  • guy

    guy

    31 Oct, 2018 01:28 pm

    "'next summer” – that’s June 2019 in the UK'. Summer is only one month in the UK? Oh wait ... that's probably true!
    Member who gave thanks

    J_seeker

  • Flying High

    Flying High

    31 Oct, 2018 03:05 pm

    Hopefully the ePassport gates at Heathrow work better than the ones at Sydney. Failed for me coming back into the country last weekend. And judging by the queue I was then asked to join, I wasn't the only one for whom they didn't work...
    No member give thanks

  • dragonfly

    dragonfly

    1 Nov, 2018 10:32 pm

    Fabulous news - thanks Chris. Any news about whether Aussies can use Global Entry or eGates in the USA?
    No member give thanks

Guest

26 Mar, 2019 02:06 pm

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