Passengers will not need to present their passports when arriving at the UK border in the future, according to a report by The Times.

Airports plan to install smart eGates equipped with advanced facial recognition as early as this year, meaning that passengers will be admitted to the UK simply by looking into a camera. Similar technology is already deployed in locations such as Dubai and Australia.

Phil Douglas, the director-general of Border Force, told The Times that he wants to create an “intelligent border” with “much more frictionless facial recognition than we currently do”.

Trials of this new technology will be followed by the “launch of a full procurement process for new gates”, according to the newspaper.

There are currently over 270 eGates in place across 15 rail and air ports in the UK which will require upgrading to the new technology. These can be used by passengers over the age of 10 who are British citizens or nationals of an EU country, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and the US.

This news comes after the European Union announced that British travellers will be required to scan their fingerprints and have their image captured when entering the European Union next autumn.

EU to require fingerprint and facial biometrics for Brits in 2024

These new rules are part of the forthcoming entry/exit system (EES), which applies to non-EU passport holders and is set to launch on 6 October, 2024, having been postponed from the initial date of May 2023.

The EES will also be followed by a new visa-waiver scheme – the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) – which is expected to launch in mid-2025, after several delays. The system is designed for travellers from ‘third countries’ wanting to enter Europe’s Schengen Area. For more information, see:

What is the ETIAS?

Meanwhile, foreign nationals who currently do not need a visa to travel to the UK will have to apply for the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) prior to departure, with a phased roll-out over the next few years.

Smart Traveller: Our guide to the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA)