Arriving at the UK border
This page explains what you can expect when you arrive at the UK border.
Our officers scan passports and cross-check passenger details to make sure only those people who have the right to enter the UK are allowed to do so. They will refuse entry to those who don't. The officer will need to check your passport or other travel document even if you hold a UK passport or one issued by another country in the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA).
When you arrive at our border, please remove your passport from its holder, so you are ready to show it, and any other relevant documents, to the officer.
If you are travelling with someone else's child we may ask you questions at the border. It will help if you plan ahead and have certain documents with you. You can find more information on the 'Travelling with children' page.
If you do not hold a UK passport, or one issued by another country in the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you will need to complete a landing card and may need to meet other requirements. For more information, see If you are not a citizen of the EU, EEA or Switzerland.
What travel documents are accepted at the border?
You must be the legal holder of a genuine document. Your documents must be valid and issued by a government or authority. The most common examples of travel documents are:
- national passports; or
- 1951 Convention travel documents for refugees.
We also accept national identity cards for EEA citizens.
Waiting times at the border
With tougher checks now in place at the border you may have to wait a little longer to get into the UK, especially at peak times. We use scanners to ensure that passports, visas and other official documents are genuine. Our officers are trained to detect forgeries and check that people have the right to enter the UK.
An officer will check your passport and give you permission to stay, if you need it. We aim to see you within 45 minutes.
If you are a national of the EU or EEA, you can use the separate EEA/EU channel, where we will usually check your passport or national identity card more quickly.
If you are a frequent traveller, read about IRIS, our automated barrier system which allows registered passengers to cross our border more quickly.
The European Economic Area (EEA) consists of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK. Although Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are not members of the European Union (EU), their citizens have the same rights as EU citizens to enter, live in and work in the UK.
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Irish Republic, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.