The Home Office has launched a new consultation to reduce the number of passengers arriving in the UK without proper travel documentation.
Each year, thousands of undocumented passengers are stopped by Border Force staff at UK airports or seaports. It is the responsibility of air and sea carriers to ensure that passengers have the correct documentation before they board.
Home Offices says that the cost to the UK of undocumented passengers can be high as many go on to claim asylum. There can also be a security risk as individuals wishing to come here for organised crime or terrorism purposes may view this as a potential method of entry.
The Home Office is therefore strengthening its partnership with carriers in the transport sector on a broad range of border security issues.
The consultation will run from 12th March to 9 April and includes two key proposals: increase the level of the carriers' liability charge from £2,000 per IDA (Inadequately Documented Arrival) to £7,000. Whilst this is a significant increase, the current charge level has been unchanged since 1991 and no longer reflects the costs and risks involved: introduce a new Approved Route (AR) incentives scheme for carriers. This includes a number of charge waivers if the carrier is engaging effectively with UKBA on border security issues, including document checking and data submission.
Immigration Minister, Mark Harper said: “Border security is vital for the UK. While it is right that the Government is in the lead on this, carriers and the transport sector as a whole have an important role to play.
“The proposed changes to incentives and penalties are designed to ensure all passengers arriving in the UK have the correct documentation to get through our strict passport controls.”