My girlfriend from USA is traveling to the UK through Manchester next month. She has a visit visa in her passport for travel since she was refused entry last year. Will she have to scan the MRZ on her visa page, or the bio page? Also, will the gate even work for her given her previous immigration issues?

  • 1
    I think the passport data page, but I would also expect there to be a stop indicator on her passport and the gate to reject her (the first time). She should ask the IO about the stop indicator affecting future travel if the gate rejects her. Jul 7, 2019 at 22:29
  • Do you think she should use the line for the gates or just line up through regular immigration and get manually inspected?
    – LR837
    Jul 8, 2019 at 2:12
  • 2
    I can't see how it would possibly hurt to use the gates. Jul 8, 2019 at 2:24

2 Answers 2


Will she have to scan the MRZ on her visa page, or the bio page?

Your girlfriend will need to scan the MRZ bio page as that is the way the computer will read the information, using the chip on that page.

Also, will the gate even work for her given her previous immigration issues?

There is a possibility she will be sent to the passport control officers, there is no harm trying to use the gates.

  • 1
    Good point about the passport bio page: the key to decrypt the data on the chip is composed of various elements from that page. I haven't used one of these machines yet, so I don't know whether there will also be an opportunity to scan the visa, but it seems possible.
    – phoog
    Oct 2, 2019 at 16:53
  • 1
    @phoog Are those machines stand-alone, or connected to a database? If the latter, once the machine sees the identifying information, it should know about the visa Oct 2, 2019 at 19:13
  • @PatriciaShanahan good point. They must be connected to a database: how else would they flag people with stop indicators?
    – phoog
    Oct 2, 2019 at 21:07
  • The previous issues would have been considered prior to granting the visa, so there is a good chance of the gate working. Oct 3, 2019 at 1:54
  • @PatriciaShanahan In my experience, and based on what others on this site have said, stop flags are not removed until after entry. The ECO who approves the visa does not remove them (possibly they can't?), it is done by a border officer, which means that someone with an adverse immigration history will always be sent to the "waiting area" at the border when entering for the first time after their removal or refusal, while the border officer apparently goes to a secure terminal where they can read the full immigration history and remove the flag.
    – MJeffryes
    Oct 7, 2019 at 15:18

One should only scan the front of the plastic card/page, like the immigration agents do.

The front of the card has 2 or 3 lines of OCR text, this text is used as a password to read the info of the RDIF chip in the plastic card.

Having this security ensures that no one can read that info by e.g. tapping a phone against your pocket/backpack.

ePassport with OCR marked

There's an excellent Android app called ReadID that can read your passport the same way the eGates do. It will even verify the digital signature of your passport against known digital passport issuers (countries certificate authorities). The signature is just like those used for HTTPS.

Also, the visa is digital, you don't actually need the stamp, though most countries still require it.

  • 2
    What plastic card?
    – MJeffryes
    Oct 2, 2019 at 20:14
  • @MJeffryes I suppose that's a reference to the fact that many passports now have the biodata page on a plastic card. As you may be aware, US passports don't have this; they just have a plastic layer on top of the (otherwise paper) biodata page. As to "the visa is digital, you don't actually need the stamp," that isn't true legally speaking. If the visa is not present in the passport, it is necessary to apply for a new visa.
    – phoog
    Oct 2, 2019 at 21:08
  • @phoog neither do UK ones which is why I think this is not universal advice
    – MJeffryes
    Oct 2, 2019 at 21:21
  • @MJeffryes do you not have any plastic in your passport? Oct 3, 2019 at 3:56
  • @MikaelDúiBolinder The biodata is laminated somehow, but I wouldn't describe it as a plastic card because it isn't at all rigid.
    – MJeffryes
    Oct 3, 2019 at 8:41

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