Covid paperwork ‘will be digitally linked to passport to eliminate queues’

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The vaccination records ‘will be digitally linked to UK passports’ to reduce queues at airports this summer

  • Border Force is working on plans to digitally link Covid paperwork to passports
  • The initiative would allow UK airports to open passport e-gates more quickly
  • Fears of keeping the current control system can lead to 10-hour queues at the border

Coronavirus paperwork required for international travel will be digitally linked to passports in an effort to reduce border queues when the holiday resumes, it was claimed today.

Border Force is reportedly working on plans that will allow passport e-gates to automatically check that someone has the correct documents to enter the UK.

It hopes to have the system in place by mid-summer, but MPs and travel bosses are pushing for faster implementation.

They have warned that if the in-person document checks are to be continued when international travel resumes, travelers could end up standing in line at the border for 10 hours.

Border Force is reportedly working on plans that will allow passport e-gates to automatically check that someone has the correct documents to enter the UK

Boris Johnson's lockdown exit roadmap states that non-essential international travel will resume from May 17 at the earliest

Boris Johnson’s lockdown exit roadmap states that non-essential international travel will resume from May 17 at the earliest

Boris Johnson’s lockdown exit roadmap states that non-essential international travel will resume from May 17 at the earliest.

But there are concerns about how the border will fare after reports of six-hour queues during lockdown when airports are dealing with far fewer passengers than usual.

Passport e-gates for arrivals have been closed since February after the government introduced stricter border controls for the coronavirus.

Reopening the electronic gates is seen as the key to avoiding long queues when the holiday returns.

The Times said the Border Force’s plans would see coronavirus paperwork such as passenger location forms and proof of a negative test digitally linked to travel passports.

The e-gate could scan the passport and automatically check the associated data and then log it so that quarantine regulations can be enforced.

Ministers would trust that e-gates could be reopened by August.

But MPs and travel bosses want them to be reopened much earlier to avoid overcrowding and long waits.

Paul Charles, chief executive of the travel consultancy PC Agency, told The Times: ‘We expect 100,000 a day to enter the UK from May 17, so e-gates will have to reopen to meet demand.

‘Otherwise you will see lines of much longer than six hours this summer. It can easily take ten hours. ‘

Layla Moran, chair of the all-party parliamentary group on coronavirus and a Lib Dem MP, said ministers needed to take ‘urgent measures’ to prevent airports from becoming the UK’s ‘Achilles heel’.

“This includes measures to reduce overcrowding in arrivals, improve social distance and ensure that passengers coming from countries on the red list are kept separate,” she said.

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