Home Office to scrap landing cards for non-EU travellers

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The process of filling in a landing card before arriving in the UK will be scrapped for more than 16 million non-EU travellers under plans announced by the Home Office.

The paper-based system was described as "outdated" by officials and will be replaced with a digital system.

It is hoped the new process will help speed passengers through airports upon arrival while ensuring that security and immigration checks continue to be performed.

Non-European travellers have been required to fill out a landing card with basic information about themselves and their travel since 1971, a process which costs £3.6 million a year.

All passengers arriving from outside the EU will continue to be checked against police, security and immigration watch lists, but the new system will mean passengers do not have to fill out the paper cards on their flight or in queues at airports and ports.

Immigration minister Brandon Lewis said: "We are modernising border technology to ensure Border Force staff stop dealing with outdated paperwork and can continue to focus on security and protecting the public.

"In addition, this change will improve the experience for arriving passengers so they get an even better welcome when they land in the UK."

The change is expected to come into effect in the autumn after a four-week consultation period.

Heathrow Airport boss John Holland-Kaye said: "We warmly welcome this proposed change which would give visitors to Britain an improved experience, whilst maintaining a secure border into the UK.

"In post-Brexit Britain, it will be even more important to show we are open for business and make sure that we give investors, tourists and students a great welcome to our country."

The move to ease the process of arriving in the UK comes as British travellers have been among those facing lengthy queues in Europe.

There have been chaotic scenes at some airports on the continent since the introduction of more stringent checks on travellers entering and leaving the Schengen area, which allows passport-free movement across much of the EU.