UK will withdraw the outdated landing cards as part of the plans to ease travel for more than 16 million non-European passengers who arrive in the UK each year.
Non-European travellers have been required to fill out a landing card with basic information about themselves and their travel since 1971.
Home Office has announced that the outdated paper-based system, which costs the public around £3.6 million each year, will be replaced as part of Border Force’s ongoing digital transformation of border controls.
The move will not result in the loss of any data that is used for security checks.
All passengers arriving from outside the EU will continue to be checked against the variety of police, security and immigration watch lists which are used to verify the identity and confirm the status of every passenger arriving at UK airports.
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Minister Brandon Lewis said: “We are modernising border technology to ensure Border Force staff stop dealing with outdated paperwork and can continue to focus on security and protecting the public. In addition, this change will improve the experience for arriving passengers so they get an even better welcome when they land in the UK.”
The changes will also free up staff and enable Border Force to better deploy their resources.
At the same time, the changes will improve the experience for travellers as passengers will no longer need to fill out the paper cards while on board the flight or in queues at airports and ports.”
The Home Office is convinced that the withdrawal of the landing cards will shorten queue lengths and improve passenger flows. Last year, 16.2 million non-EU passengers arrived in the UK.
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye welcomed the proposed change saying it would give visitors to Britain an improved experience, whilst maintaining a secure border into the UK.
“In post-Brexit Britain, it will be even more important to show we are open for business and make sure that we give investors, tourists and students a great welcome to our country,” Mr Holland-Kaye said. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with the new Immigration Minister and Border Force over the coming years to keep improving the passenger experience at the UK’s border.”
The Home Office has launched a 4-week consultation with carriers, ports and those that use statistics gathered from landing card data before implementing the proposed changes.
The changes are expected to come into effect in the autumn.