I've had a UK biometric passport since 2014. Despite this, I have never been able to enter the UK via an electronic gate. Instead the gate always tells me to seek assistance. Last night, after returning from a European trip, I asked the immigration officer if there was a reason for this. Apparently, there is something on my file -- that is nothing to do with me -- that forces the gate to fail and sends me to speak to a person at immigration rather than using the gate. Apparently, the officer was not allowed to tell me what this thing was. However, I have no problem using electronic gates at other European countries.

I am a UK citizen, and do not have a criminal record. I regularly travel (roughly once every 2 months) and have never had trouble abroad. Nor can I think of any reason why I would otherwise be suspicious to UK immigration. Naturally I would like to use the e-gates to enter the UK as the referral to an immigration officer can often increase my wait time by 20 mins. Does anyone know what this thing on my file could be, and how I could change it?

  • My first thought was that the chip was faulty, but if it works at other countries' gates then the chip must be working. I would still download a passport reader app on my phone and read the chip myself, just to see if anything in its data is amiss. – Michael Hampton Jun 11 '19 at 16:31
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    E-passports contain a variety of data, and not all passports contain the same info, and not all countries use the same info, especially when it comes to biometric data. For instance, some countries use fingerprints (as in France), while others use facial recognition (as in the UK IIRC). The passport may contain the former but not the latter for a variety of reasons. The opposite can be true as well. Or it could be that identification using that method returns an “unsure” result while other methods say “confirmed”. Could you tell us which methods are used in the countries where it worked? – jcaron Jun 11 '19 at 16:54
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    I think it’s unlikely to be anything to do with the data on the passport, rather some flag in a Home Office database. I don’t have any concrete suggestion for the reason, but you might like to try a subject access request, and/or writing to your MP. – MJeffryes Jun 11 '19 at 17:43
  • This is the impression I got from the immigration officer. – user138901 Jun 13 '19 at 20:21

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