I have a USA passport and a British residency permit. Is it allowed to use the EU passport line or must I use the all passport line?

  • 7
    It's not at all obvious what queue different categories of people should use, and actually it varies between airports. Logically, long term residents shouldn't need very much processing, and it would make sense to allow them to use the EU passports queue. Unfortunately, at most airports, they can't, unless they are traveling with EU passport holding family members.
    – MJeffryes
    Aug 13, 2018 at 10:11
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    @HenningMakholm They are obviously not asking that! They are asking which queue they can use. It's not a stupid question, there's evidence here that Manchester airport, at least in the past, allowed all UK residents to use the EU queue flyertalk.com/forum/u-k-ireland/…
    – MJeffryes
    Aug 13, 2018 at 10:15
  • 1
    can pay to be a registered traveller and use EU line gov.uk/registered-traveller
    – BritishSam
    Aug 13, 2018 at 10:30
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    @BritishSam You should add this as an answer.
    – MJeffryes
    Aug 13, 2018 at 10:37
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    ...Where? At a UK airport? A Schengen airport? The rules are quite explicit for the latter.
    – phoog
    Aug 14, 2018 at 1:08

5 Answers 5


Your residency permit and passport themselves aren't enough to use the UK/EU line at most airports. I've heard of some people at major airports being allowed to use the UK/EU line.

You can register as a registered traveller here, as a US citizen your US passport is eligible. You won't have to fill out a landing card and can go through the EU/EEA/Swiss line (including ePassport gates) at some UK airports and train stations.

You can use the service at the following airports:

  • Birmingham
  • Bristol
  • Cardiff
  • East Midlands
  • Edinburgh
  • Gatwick
  • Glasgow
  • Heathrow
  • London City
  • Luton
  • Manchester
  • Southend
  • Stansted

You can use the service at the following Eurostar terminals:

  • Brussels
  • Lille
  • Paris

Registered traveller cost £70 and is valid for 12 months. If you are unsuccessful in your application you are refunded £50.

There are some eligibly requirements here. But if you travel to and from the UK a lot it's worth doing. To renew it costs £50 after the first 12 months and £20 if you get a new passport while you have membership.

  • 1
    Wow, you have to pay even more money again - it's nice to be a government.
    – Fattie
    Aug 13, 2018 at 12:12
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    @Fattie Agree to some extent, if you're a resident you probably pay tax here so should be free. To others though I think they should have to pay if they want to use this service as it would be unfair to the British tax payer to maintain it.
    – BritishSam
    Aug 13, 2018 at 13:33
  • @BritishSam If anything, the service saves the government money. If more people can use the ePassport gates, then they don't need to employ so many border officers.
    – MJeffryes
    Aug 13, 2018 at 14:02
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    @MJeffryes don't know how much the infrastructure costs for it so can't comment. But it will take people power for people to review applications. I do think £70(then £50) is a lot unless you travel very regularly. But it is a way for OP to definitely be able to use EU line in those airports in my answer. I usually fly into Manchester, my US partner is usually no more that 5 mins waiting at immigration, I know its worse at other airports atm.
    – BritishSam
    Aug 13, 2018 at 14:09
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    @BritishSam Right, which is why I agree with you that it ought to be free for UK residents. Anyone with a long term visa has already been scrutinised, there’s no need to review their application.
    – MJeffryes
    Aug 13, 2018 at 14:13

Unfortunately, the answer is that it depends. It's well known that at many airports, family members of EU citizens are allowed to use the EU passports queue. There is some suggestion on this discussion board that at Manchester Airport, UK residents are allowed to use the EU queue regardless of citizenship, even in the absence of an EU citizen family member. I wouldn't rely on that since it's a fairly old thread, but if the queue is very long for the all passports queue at your port of entry, there is no harm in asking a member of staff which queue you can use, making sure to point out your residency status to them.

  • This is also true at Heathrow - my Canadian family member was told to use the EU passport queue because she had a residence permit.
    – Gremlin
    Aug 13, 2018 at 10:19
  • @Gremlin Yes, Heathrow is (fortunately, given the length of the All Passports queue) one of the airports where family members can use the EU queue. I wouldn’t bet that a UK resident non-EU citizen travelling alone can also use the EU queue but I would certainly ask if facing a 2 hour queue.
    – MJeffryes
    Aug 13, 2018 at 10:22
  • 1
    It was also true for travelling alone
    – Gremlin
    Aug 13, 2018 at 10:24

Couldn't add this as a comment to MJeffryes:

I have an EU passport, my spouse has a US passport with a various UK residency permits/visas over the years.

After arriving at the front of a long non-EEA line at Manchester and being told we could have gone through the short EU line together, we both now go through whichever line looks quickest. My spouse has also been though on their own in a UK/EEA line. It's been fine at Manchester, Heathrow and Edinburgh.

Can't vouch for the "officialness" of this, if in doubt, just ask the border staff before you join a queue -- they may or may not know or be correct, but at least it's not your fault then!


The "lines" at airports are not official and strict.

I often just use the wrong one because (a) I don't care or (b) I'm walking along with a friend in a different category.

I've never once been told I'm in the "wrong line" and to go re-line.

OP, in the example given of your papers, if you mean in Britain I would certainly just join the EU line. And really I would do the same when on the continent, in the example given of your papers.

  • 4
    To clarify, you don’t have an EU passport? But regardless, this happened twice at Stansted, and the officer at the desk stated that he couldn’t admit my wife due to lack of equipment, and redirected us to the front of the All Passports queue. He was also aware of the differences in setup between different airports, when we said we were able to use the EU queue at Heathrow.
    – MJeffryes
    Aug 13, 2018 at 12:15
  • 1
    @Fattie I've seen a situation where the "EU-passports" line leads to an automated booth (step in, scan your passport and show your face to camera, get let out) and not having an EU passport resulted in the system being blocked until a security officer let that passenger out and to the non-EU line.
    – Peteris
    Aug 13, 2018 at 14:38
  • 3
    @Fattie I very much doubt that UKBF officers are paid minimum wage. Aug 13, 2018 at 14:58
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    EU citizens who do not have a passport but travel with an ID card also can not use the ePassport gates.
    – Willeke
    Aug 13, 2018 at 15:16
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    Interesting: I regularly use the non-EU Queue at Stansted (quicker) and about 50% of the officers there scold me for it. Same happened the one time I entered at St Pancras
    – Crazydre
    Aug 13, 2018 at 16:02

As you're not an EU citizen, the answer is almost certainly a resounding NO.

You may be a US citizen and a legal resident of the UK, but that doesn't mean you're an EU CITIZEN. Your residency status doesn't change that in any way.

If you could enter other EU countries without a passport, using just your residency papers, that would possibly be different, but were that the case you'd not have to ask this question.

It's no different from the situation my Australian friend is in who has a Canadian residency permit. He still needs an ESTA (if traveling by air) and his Australian passport to be allowed to enter the US.

  • Your fourth paragraph is about the legality of visas. The lines at airports are nothing.
    – Fattie
    Aug 13, 2018 at 10:45
  • The situation of your Australian friend is irrelevant. First, it's not a directly comparable situation (nationality A, residence B, trying to enter C, whereas the question is about nationality A, residence B, trying to enter B). Second, even if it was a comparable situation, the USA might have different rules to the UK (and it seems it does: the US rule is that there's a line for citizens and permanent residents and a separate line for everyone else, whereas the UK rule, at least officially, seems to be that only citizenship matters). Aug 13, 2018 at 14:59

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