New Zealanders can rejoice! Overnight it’s been announced that the UK Government is opening up its e-passport gates to visitors of a number of countries, including New Zealand, Canada, Australia, America and Japan. The move should reduce pressure on immigration services, following reports of waits of up-to 3 hours in a number of airports.

The announcement was made by British Chancellor Philip Hammond during his budget in the House of Commons. Ahead of the impending Brexit, he stated that the budget will “send a message loud and clear to the rest of the world that Britain is open for business”. The UK will increasingly rely on countries outside the EU as it exists the European Union from March 29, 2019; furthermore it is widely believed that the announcement will lead to strengthening of ties with Britain’s traditional allies.

How will it work?

The e-passport gates at the major UK airports will be opened up to include the newly announced countries, as well as the existing EEA (European Economic Area) nationals. This includes 22 airports and international rail terminals, such as the Eurotunnel.

Until then, New Zealanders and Australians are able to use the “fast-track” e-gates, used by EU passport holders.

When will the changes occur?

At this stage, the forecast time-frame is early next year.

If you’ve had a horror experience at a UK port of entry, we’d love to hear of your experience.