Using your e-passport for the first time

It’s always exciting when you go away, but even more so if it’s your first time abroad. With the introduction of ‘biometric’ passports, you now have the opportunity to go through the e-passport gates instead of the normal ‘Border Force’ gate. Here’s everything you need to know about these newfangled travel documents:

Do I have to take a ‘special’ photograph for an e-passport?

No. You can use any normal passport photo, however, it must be in the size stated by the Passport Office: 45mm high and 35mm wide.

Glasses and passport photos

You are not permitted to wear tinted glasses or sunglasses, but you can wear reading glasses, provided that your eyes are fully shown with no reflections or glare.

How do I know I have an e-passport?

If you have a look at the bottom of your passport cover, you should see what looks like a ‘filled-in’ version of the London Underground emblem; this is officially known as a ‘biometric’ logo. If you have this, then you have an e-passport.

Can anyone use the e-passport gate?

No. If your passport does not have a biometric logo, you will be forced to use the normal Border Control gates, which may take longer.

How do I use an e-passport gate?

The readers can be positioned either outside the gate or inside, depending on the airport.

1. If there are markings of where you need to stand, place your feet on the marks.
2. Open the page where your picture is shown
3. Place the picture face-down on the reader
4. Look directly at the camera (don’t forget to take your glasses off if you’re not wearing glasses in the picture; don’t obstruct your face with head coverings or hair)
5. Keep still (do not smile as you are not smiling in your photograph)
6. When the light goes green, you may exit.

Enjoy your holiday and don’t forget to check that your e-passport is in date!

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