Singaporeans can now use ePassport gates in UK
All Singaporeans can now use the ePassport gates when entering the United Kingdom.
The UK government announced the move in a statement yesterday, counting Singaporeans among nationals from seven countries to which the privilege has been extended. The other countries, described as low-risk, are Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States.
The statement added that the move was to speed up border control processes.
Previously, Singaporeans with biometric passports could use the ePassport gates only on the condition that they were part of the UK's by-invitation Registered Traveller programme.
UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid said the move was also to send a message to the world that the UK was "open for business".
"Our new global immigration and border system will improve security and fluidity for passengers coming to visit or work in the UK," he said.
"Expanding the use of ePassport gates is a key part of this and allows us to improve the passenger experience of those arriving in the UK while keeping our border secure."
There are currently 264 ePassport gates in operation across the UK, with more than 50 million passengers using them last year.
The gates, which use facial recognition technology, began operating in 2008 and was initially available only to British and European Union nationals.
They can be used by those over 18 with a biometric passport. Children aged 12 to 17 can also use the gates if accompanied by an adult.
AHEAD OF SCHEDULE
The UK government previously announced plans to extend the privilege in December last year.
It was initially planned to be rolled out at the end of next month, but yesterday's announcement meant it was implemented slightly ahead of schedule.
Ms Karen Dee, chief executive of the UK's Airport Operators Association, said it welcomed the move ahead of the expected busy summer travel period next month.
"Enabling more passengers to use ePassport gates is an important next step in our joint efforts to enhance the welcome at the border," she said.
"It will demonstrate the UK is open for business, tourism and visiting friends and relatives. It will also free up Border Force officers for other duties, improving the experience of all passengers."