The UK government is to begin testing technologies and greater use of biometric innovations for automated border identity verification checks as part of its newly published plans to develop, test and implement a “contactless digital border” at airports, ports and other entry points to the country.
These technologies “would allow some passengers to enter the UK and undergo automated border screening without going through an eGate or speaking to a Border Force officer, helping to speed up legitimate journeys to the UK,” the Home Office says.
“The passengers would instead undergo pre-screening and be identified at the border using the latest technology — ensuring the security of the border and the UK public. The Home Office aims to begin pilot testing in 2024.”
The announcement forms part of the Home Office’s New Plan for Immigration: Migration and Border Control Strategy statement that lays out the government’s long-term plan “to transform the UK border, making visible changes to security, flow and passenger experience by enabling automated entry to the UK for most passengers across all modes of transport at all ports”.
“We will focus on the step change and transformation of the use of automation for all passengers to improve the flow capacity at air, rail and maritime ports,” the Home Office statement says.
“Through the Border Vision Advisory Group established in December 2020, we are engaging with academics, industry suppliers, port operators and carriers to explore the future of automation. These hackathon events will continue throughout 2022, providing a catalyst for our detailed design for the future.
“We will: identify feasible technical solutions for automation of the future, such as contactless entry; undertake proof of concepts including the use of existing and new automation technologies for air, maritime and rail ports, including those who present at the border in vehicles from 2023, and pilots at operational ports in 2024; and trial a pre-clearance model against a highly automated border model on select departure points where border control requirements are fulfilled before departure.”
The UK government announced it is to explore biometric contactless corridors for border checks in June 2021.