The Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland announced on May 20 (local time) that South Koreans now can use automated immigration services at the Heathrow Airport, the Gatwick Airport and Eurostar stations.
The embassy said that about 300 South Koreans went through immigration in 20 minutes at the Heathrow Airport that day after arriving at the airport via Korean Air. About 290 South Korean Asiana Airlines customers passed through immigration in 15 minutes, too.
Previously, the United Kingdom allowed the services only for the British and EU and European Economic Area (EEA) residents. Now, however, any South Korean national who is aged 18 or above and has an electronic passport can use automated immigration without prior registration, a face-to-face interview with an immigration official and a landing card. Only passport scanning and facial recognition are required and those aged 12 to 17 also can use it when accompanied by an adult.
Those who must receive a visa, such as work permit holders, have to use an immigration checkpoint for the British and go through a face-to-face interview with an immigration official.
More than 400,000 South Koreans visited the United Kingdom two years ago. The time such South Koreans spend on immigration is expected to be shortened by 30 minutes to an hour thanks to the new service, which is applied to the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Singapore as well.