Airport representational image
Airport representational image BRIAN SNYDER/Reuters

Travellers could soon enter the UK without having to show their passports, as a part of a new trial scheme by the UK Border Force.

Phil Douglas, director-general of the UK Border Force, has said that the country will install new hi-tech gates at airports that will use advanced facial recognition technology for people arriving in Britain.

The government has proposed to create an "intelligent border" that uses "much more frictionless facial recognition than we currently do". The officials hope the new technology will bring the UK's border up to the standard developed elsewhere, like Dubai, which uses facial recognition for 50 nationalities, according to reports in the English media.

Dubai Airport, which uses facial recognition for at least 50 nationalities, claims their smart gates allow passengers to go through immigration procedures in as little as five seconds.

Douglas also shared how he had been "really impressed" by the use of next-generation e-gates on a recent trip to Australia.

"I had to apply for an electronic travel authorisation in advance and used my smartphone to read the chip in my passport. That sent the image of me in the chip to the Australian authorities. When I arrived in Australia, I didn't even have to get my passport out of my bag. It is a really interesting concept," Douglas told The Times.

Trials, meanwhile are expected to begin at various airports across the UK this year. Biometric details of British and Irish travellers are reportedly already being held by the government after being obtained in the passport application process.

Speaking of the same, Douglas added that the government knows "a lot more information about people upfront" and they'll know if a particular person has been in the UK before.

"We'll know what their compliance with immigration laws is. And we'll know if there are any records of them on our security systems. So there will be some people who won't be getting on the plane," the director-general of the Border Force added.

Over the years, there have been a number of issues regarding airport chaos in the UK with long queues at airport arrivals and departures. One such incident happened last year over the late May bank holiday weekend when tens of thousands of passengers queued for up to four hours at airports when a systems upgrade failed.

Longer wait time at borders for UK travellers

It was earlier reported that the European Union's new entry rules are set to come into place in October 2024, which could lead to longer waiting times for UK travellers at borders.

The new EU Entry/Exit System (EES) will replace the stamping of passports and is being introduced across all countries within the European Union (EU). The much-delayed EES scheme is due to start on Oct. 6.