Entering the UK

Information about what happens when you arrive at the UK border.

Border Force officers scan passports and cross-check passenger details to make sure only people who have the right to enter the UK are allowed to do so.

Arriving at the UK border

The officer will need to check your passport or other travel document even if you hold a UK passport or one issued by another country in the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA).

We use scanners to ensure that passports, visas and other official documents are genuine. Our officers are trained to detect forgeries and check that people have the right to enter the UK. They will refuse entry to those who don't.

Which travel documents are accepted at the border?

You must be the legal holder of a genuine document. Your documents must be valid and issued by a recognised government or authority. The most common examples of travel documents are:

  • national passports
  • 1951 Convention travel documents for refugees
  • EEA citizens' national identity cards

Waiting times at the border

An officer will check your passport and give you permission to stay, if you need it. EU or EEA nationals should use the separate EEA/EU channel.

See Border Agency data on clearance of passengers (the numbers of passengers who pass through the border) within target times on the UK Border Agency website.

Travelling with children

If you are travelling with someone else's child or if your child has a different name to you we may ask you questions at the border. It will help if you plan ahead and have certain documents with you. Information on travelling with children is on the UK Border Agency website.

Landing card

If you do not hold a UK passport, or one issued by another country in the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you will need to complete a landing card and may need to meet other requirements. More information is available for if you are not a citizen of the EU, EEA or Switzerland on the UK Border Agency website.

Using the iris recognition immigration system (IRIS)

Information about how registered passengers can use IRIS to enter the UK quickly at certain airports is available on the UK Border Agency website.

Using the e-passport gates

Information about how passengers can use ePassport gates to enter the UK quickly through automated barriers at certain airports is available on the UK Border Agency website.

Fingerprint checks at the border

Fingerprint checks have been introduced at the border for passengers with biometric UK visas, entry clearances and biometric residence permits (formerly known as identity cards for foreign nationals). Information about fingerprint checks available on the UK Border Agency website. 

If you are refused entry to the UK

Information about whether you can appeal if you are refused permission to enter the UK is on the UK Border Agency website.

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