If London is calling, it will be easier and faster to get in as the U.K. recently expanded its automated immigration e-gates to citizens of the U.S. and six other countries.
Starting Monday, travelers from the U.S. can use the automated machines to clear immigration when entering the U.K. It's a simple and fast process that could drastically decrease immigration delays – especially at busy airports like London-Heathrow (LHR).
Passport holders from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea can also use the new system.
Meanwhile, it will soon get more cumbersome for travelers to enter the rest of Europe. Starting in 2021, U.S. citizens will be required to apply for an ETIAS, a visa-like requirement for entry.
U.K. and European Union citizens have had access to these automated passport control kiosks for years. And these e-gates are available at 15 different entry points, both via rail and airport.
And though it's a marked improvement for travelers, it's been in the works for months. U.K. officials announced the brewing change almost a year ago.
“The new system will help to drive our economy, cement our reputation as a global leader and send a clear message to the world – the UK is open for business,” U.K. Home Secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement.
But there's one hitch. While children 12 to 17 can pass through the gates when accompanies by an adult, children under 12 cannot. So younger children will still need to go through the traditional immigration check when entering the U.K.
This is a great addition to the U.K.'s travel system that should make it exponentially easier and faster for travelers to clear immigration and start exploring.