Indian nationals visiting the UK are set to benefit from shorter airport queues and less paperwork under new Home Office plans to scrap landing cards.
The change is part of a wider plan to modernise Britain’s border controls and will affect all non-EAA (European Economic Area) passengers. Each year Indian visitors to the UK are among more than 16 million non-European passengers required to complete a landing card before passing through immigration control.
Landing cards were introduced in 1971 and the now out-dated process costs about £3.6m each year to manage. In a statement, the government said it wants to see the current paper-based system phased out by the start of October.
Under the plans, Border Force officials would have access to digitally collected passenger information provided ahead of arrival. The number of security checks carried out wouldn’t be reduced, with only the method of collection changing.
A statement from the Home Office said: “This change will also be an improvement to the border process: landing cards will no longer have to be purchased and distributed by carriers; there will be no burden on passengers to complete these cards; and it will reduce the administrative costs to the taxpayer by freeing up immigration officers’ time related to the processing of landing cards.”
John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow Airport, said the proposed change was “warmly welcome”.
He said: “[The new system] 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.
“We look forward to continuing to work closely with the new immigration minister and Border Force over the coming years to keep improving the passenger experience at the UK’s border.”