Passengers arriving in the UK may soon no longer need to present their passports at the border under plans to introduce new e-gates.

The new e-gates that are being looked at would be installed at relevant airports across the UK and are capable of allowing arrivals into the country using only advanced facial recognition.

Phil Douglas, the director-general of Border Force, speaking to The Times, said the aim was to create an “intelligent border” that used “much more frictionless facial recognition" than is currently used at airports across the UK.  

News Shopper: New facial recognition e-gates are set to be trialled in the UK in 2024.New facial recognition e-gates are set to be trialled in the UK in 2024. (Image: PA)

Passports may no longer be needed at the UK border

Dubai Airport already has facial recognition in place which works for 50 nationalities.

Mr Douglas said he had recently experienced the new technology on a trip to Australia and he was very impressed.

Speaking to The Times he said: “I had to apply for an electronic travel authorisation in advance and used my smartphone to read the chip in my passport.

"That sent the image of me in the chip to the Australian authorities. When I arrived in Australia, I didn’t even have to get my passport out of my bag. It is a really interesting concept.”

Now the new facial recognition e-gates could be on their way to the UK, reports The Times, meaning passengers will no longer be required to present their passport upon arrival to the UK (including at airports).

Trials of the new technology are expected to begin at UK airports in 2024.

News Shopper: The new system is said to be more secure and will allow for a quicker process of arrivals.The new system is said to be more secure and will allow for a quicker process of arrivals. (Image: PA)

There are already more than 270 e-gates in place at 15 air and rail ports in the UK. 

All these would be replaced with the new technology, which The Times said "will be more secure and also process arrivals faster".

The current e-gates were originally restricted to British and European Union arrivals only.

But over time it has been extended to include arrivals from Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and the US.

Electronic travel authorisation (ETA) - which grants access to board a flight to the UK via an app - is another new technology being rolled out in the UK.

The scheme, which costs £10 per passenger and is for arrivals who do not need a visa, is already in force for Qataris and will extend to nationals of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Jordan in February.


The hope is it will be extended even further to include all visitors over time.

Mr Douglas expects passport desks to “fall away” in the next two to three years due to the new technology coming into force.

The Home Office is reportedly hoping to make Britain one of the most efficient borders in the world and the use of new e-gates and ETA technology will assist with that goal.