London is a gateway to our great country with millions flying into our airports each year.
Tourism and business are key drivers for our thriving economy and so it’s important that we have the best border systems and controls in the world and can give those coming to the UK the warmest welcome.
When I worked in the financial sector, I visited many airports across the world so I appreciate how beneficial it is to have a smooth and convenient border process that shows we’re open for business.
That’s why I’m delighted to announce that, as of today, eligible businesspeople and tourists from some of our most trusted global partners will be able to use E-passport gates when arriving in the UK.
The seven countries involved are Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States.
And given that the vast majority of nationals from these countries enter through Heathrow and Gatwick, this is a change that will further cement London’s reputation as a world-leading centre of commerce and culture.
This expansion represents a key element of the future border and immigration system that we are building for a truly global Britain.
Our new system will make better use of data and technology to improve both security and fluidity at the border.
We are already a world leader in E-gates, with more than 260 in operation at the UK border. Since their introduction in 2008, E-gates have processed more than 201m passengers through the UK. And enabling nationals from these seven countries to use the gates will help grow our economy further.
US and Australian passengers are among the top five foreign investors, spending a combined total of £4.8bn during visits to the UK in 2017. That’s more than half a billion more than visitors from Germany, France and Spain – the top three EU spenders in the UK.
Passengers from around the world will also no longer have to complete landing cards upon arrival, making for a smoother entry to the country without compromising security. Crucially, Border Force will continue to carry out security checks on all scheduled arrivals in the UK.
As home secretary, I’m committed to delivering a border and immigration system that supports the UK’s economy while also being user- and business-friendly.
So whether it’s a family coming from the US to see London’s tourist attractions, a Singaporean business-person visiting one of our global businesses, or the Australian and New Zealand cricket fans travelling for the World Cup later this month, this change will boost tourism, boost trade and boost the economy.
Most importantly, it sends a clear message to the world – the UK is open for business.