Kiwis will now be able to skip the notoriously long immigration queues at British airports after UK authorities gave the all clear for us to breeze through the ePassport gates.

The British High Commission has announced electronic passport gates are now available for Aussies and Kiwis carrying electronically enabled passports.

The self-use terminals, similar to the ones at New Zealand and Australian airports, significantly speed up the processing of arriving travellers by using facial recognition to match the traveller with the image printed in their passport, eliminating the need to come face-to-face with border officials.

British Home Secretary Sajid Javid said the change would offer Antipodean travellers a more "smooth" arrival in the UK.


"Our new global immigration and border system will improve security and fluidity for passengers coming to visit or work in the UK," he said in a statement.

"Expanding the use of ePassport gates is a key part of this and allows us to improve passenger experience arriving in the UK while keeping our border secure.

"I'm delighted that New Zealand and Australian nationals will benefit from their use and have a smooth beginning to their visit to our country."

The change, which also applies to eligible New Zealand nationals, was prefaced in the UK Government's Budget announcement in November.

The British Government is also looking to scrap the need for New Zealanders and other nationals to fill in landing cards on arrival, making the trip to the UK even breezier.

Previously, New Zealanders had to sign-up to the UK's Registered Traveller programme to use eGates – this will no longer be required. The UK Government has also announced that it is removing the need for New Zealanders, and travellers from all other non-European Economic Area countries, to complete landing cards upon arrival in the UK.

New Zealand offers reciprocal eGate arrangements to UK citizens. In April 2019, 70% of all UK citizens entering New Zealand used e-Gates.

In 2017, New Zealand citizens entered the UK on 359,000 occasions. Heathrow is the busiest airport in Europe, with more than 80 million passengers passing through last year.


Some categories of travellers will still need to see an immigration officer rather than use an ePassport gate. These include:
• children aged 11 and under and their accompanying adults
• those without chipped passports
• limited numbers of individuals coming for distinct migration purposes where they require specific grants of leave from an immigration officer