It feels good walking in the UK/EU line with my ninja-black New Zealand passport. I shouldn’t be there but the ePassport Gates won’t reject me. Why? because I’m a Registered Traveller.
“Registered Traveller?” What does it mean? Are you an official gypsy?
If you’re from the EU/UK can you stop reading now… this is just for my non-EU/UK pals.
A Registered Traveller is someone with unique powers that can go through the ‘EU/UK ePassport Gates’ and/or the ‘Other Passports’ line at the UK Border. The crux of it is, that Border Force will run some checks on you and if all okay you can re-immigrate into the UK faster for a small annual fee (currently £70).
I was lucky enough to be given a Registered Traveller membership for my birthday from my sisters. An amazing gift for someone who travels a bunch! Unbelievably I did not even know about its existence; as a frequent traveller I definitely knew about the queues for ‘non EU/UK’ immigration and about being questioned at the UK border… and the queues and did I mention The Queues? (Note: I feel like there are no queues in New Zealand).
Requirements to apply:
- You need to have been granted a UK visa or have visited the UK at least 4 times in the last 24 months.
- It is only available for selected nationalities: Brunei, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Canada, Mexico, USA, Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Uruguay.
Pros to becoming a Registered Traveller:
- Immigrating into the UK much faster:
- My experience is that my immigration time has dropped for me from approximately 1hour (in the non EU/UK line) to less than 15mins (EU/UK ePassport gates). This is a much loved time saving. Especially if you’re doing lots of weekend trips which can be exhausting and if you’re getting back late along with piles of the other weekend revellers.
- It also means you can travel with your EU/UK friends without being left behind.
- It means you have choice of EU/UK or non-EU/UK lines.
- You never have to fill out another ‘Landing Card’ (joy!).
- You can apply online.
- It applies at the London airports, Eurostar and other UK airports.
- It is only £50 to renew, versus the original £70 to sign up.
- When you visa details change, it doesn’t cost to update this.
Cons to becoming a Registered Traveller:
- It costs… £70 for a year. Think about how many trips you hope to do, is it worth it for you?
- It takes 10 working days to get a decision on whether you’ll be approved to become a Registered Traveller, so do it in advance of your trip.
- Once you’ve got the initial ‘okay’, you still have to go through the the ‘non-EU/UK’ line once more to pick up your Registered Traveller card, so there is no benefit until your subsequent trip.
- If you are always going to be travelling with someone who is non-EU/UK and not a Registered Traveller, are you going to be waiting for them anyway?
- It costs £20 to update your membership if you get a new passport.
Overall, you can probably tell, it’s a big YES from me. Timing is important when making short trip and becoming a Registered Traveller has definitely saved me time, got me on earlier trains home and allowed me to keep up with my EU/UK mates in immigration. It was a great gift and I will definitely renew when my year is up.
How to apply: See https://www.gov.uk/registered-traveller