Public Services > Central Government

Border Force moves to digital checks

Matteo Natalucci Published 08 August 2017

Home Office to ditch paper landing cards first introduced in 1971 as part of digital border transformation program

The Home Office has announced  plans to withdraw landing cards in favour of digital checks at immigration counters by the autumn

Non-European passengers have been required to fill out a landing card since 1971.

The measure is aimed at modernising and reducing the cost of the outdated paper-based system, which currently costs the public around £3.6m each year, the government said. The government argues that the new system is expected to improve the experience for travellers by both simplifying the immigration check procedure and reducing queue lengths.

Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis said, "We are modernising border technology to ensure Border Force staff stop dealing with outdated paperwork and can continue to focus on security and protecting the public."

The Border Force will use a variety of watch lists as well as the Advance Passenger Information (API) database to check the identity and status of passengers arriving at UK airports.

The Home Office has just opened a four-week consultation with carriers, airports and port authorities.

Last year 16.2 million non-EU passengers arrived in the UK.

The proposals are part of the Home Office’s digital border transformation program, which is intended to both facilitate travel and enhance the security of the border. To date, this programme has already seen the introduction of 232 e-gates at 21 ports across the nation.

The changes are also part of the ongoing Digital Services at the Border (DSAB) programme, which is supporting the provision of modernising border technology and improving intelligence gathering.

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