On 24 September 2013, Mark Harper, Minister for Immigration, announced a new ‘Registered Traveller’ pilot scheme for some travellers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). The scheme is initially opened to selected nationals of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the United States and will operate at Heathrow and Gatwick airports in the UK. The scheme allows for travellers to use the UK/EEA channels at border control and travellers will not need a landing card.
UKBA Requirements: Eligibility for Registered Traveller Scheme
In order to join the scheme, the applicant must:
- Be a national of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand or the United States of America;
- Be aged over 18;
- Have visited the UK at least 4 times in the last 52 weeks;
- Have been registered for the IRIS immigration system; and
- Be coming to the UK as a visitor (including business visitors).
Benefits of the Registered Traveller Scheme
The UKBA’s Registered Traveller Scheme is a pilot scheme which the UK government intends to use to improve the way regular visitors can pass through the UK’s border.
The scheme offers the following benefits to travellers who are able to participate in the scheme:
- Travellers will be able to access expedited clearance processes at Heathrow and Gatwick similar to those enjoyed by UK/EEA nationals;
- Travellers will not need to complete landing cards if they fly into Gatwick or Heathrow; and
- Travellers will be able to use the UK/EEA channels at border control.
Registration on the UKBA’s Registered Traveller Scheme
Initial registration for the pilot scheme will expire on 31 March 2014. From 1 April 2014, it is expected that the scheme will become permanent and any travellers previously registered at the pilot scheme will be able to re-apply.
The government intends for the scheme to be successful and if successful, the scheme may be extended to include nationals from other countries so they can enjoy similar benefits.