The UK, like the US, doesn't do exit border checks at Airports, meaning domestic and international flights leave from the same gates.

For this reason, the US does not have airside Transit; however the UK does at Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester.

So, if a person Needs a visa to enter the UK, but not for airside Transit, how do the authorities prevent them from flying to the UK, then following the connections signs (thus bypassing immigration) and then boarding a domestic flight (effectively entering the UK illegally)?

3 Answers 3


In the UK, if domestic and international travellers are mixed, you will have to have a photo taken whilst passing through security if you are connecting to a domestic flight. At the gate, they match this photo up with the one taken at security.

Details can be found here.

To strengthen the security of the United Kingdom border, airports that operate common departure lounges must comply with UK Border Force conditions that are necessary to prevent any circumvention of UK immigration controls. This includes a requirement to capture a facial biometric for each domestic passenger on entry and exit of a departure lounge in order to verify their identity.

Update: I think there's some confusion in the other answers about what the question is exactly. Let's say you fly Boston - Heathrow - Paris. In this case you do not pass through immigration, but just a security and boarding pass check. You then board your flight to Paris where you would go through immigration.

The OP is asking what if you went through security and then attempted to board a domestic flight to, say, MAN, perhaps by swapping a boarding pass with someone else, or just using a second BP you'd already printed under a different ticket (though that will also result in failure due to Ready To Fly in LHR).

What will happen is that you will arrive at the gate with the intention of boarding your domestic flight. You will face the biometric camera and it will not recognise you and you will be denied boarding. The only way of exiting the airport will be through immigration.

  • 3
    It depends where you are arriving from and going to. In the UK, you don't need to possess any ID for a domestic flight. If you arrive at LHR and are travelling to MAN, you'd have a photo taken but no need to show ID.
    – Berwyn
    Jul 1, 2016 at 17:47
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    @Crazydre You wouldn't be allowed to board the domestic flight as there would be no biometric photo of you on file.
    – Berwyn
    Jul 1, 2016 at 18:28
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    If it counts as a domestic flight which I believe flights to JER and IOM do, then you'd have to have your photo taken if you departed from a shared departure lounge area. There are occasions you can skip the photo if you arrive from a domestic flight and connect to a domestic flight if you're in a segregated area. I believe that's possible at some LGW gates.
    – Berwyn
    Jul 1, 2016 at 18:48
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    @Crazydre You can report an immigration crime directly to the Home Office and provide them all of the details that are available. (Despite the confusing wording in place on that web page, you can report crimes that have not yet occurred.) Jul 1, 2016 at 22:26
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    @ZachLipton Domestic flights including flights from Dublin arrive at gates that allow you to bypass immigration and exit the airport via customs only. However, if you proceeded to flight connections and entered the main departure lounge, you would need to go through immigration to get out.
    – Berwyn
    Jul 1, 2016 at 23:10

Heathrow's airport website has a connection planner. If you try an international arrival followed by a domestic departure it states that you have to go through immigration and then security.

In many airports I have been to (in particular in the US and Canada) this is arranged by forcing passengers into an arrivals area that is segregated from the departures area and requires you to go through immigration and security to access departures.

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    I know what the rules are, but wanted to know how the UK actually enforces it for People wishing to sneak into the country. Because unlike in the US or Canada, you can Transit UK Airports without Clearing Immigration even though the UK doesn't do exit Immigration checks at airports
    – Crazydre
    Jul 1, 2016 at 22:13
  • Right, but some UK airports are a bit different from US airports. US airports require everybody arriving internationally to go through the immigration hall first, even people who are going to fly directly out of the US on another flight (except people who came from a Preclearance airport, who went through US immigration already before their flight). In contrast, various UK airports have a shared area and it's possible to fly, say, SFO-LHR-BOM without going through UK immigration (an airside transit visa may be necessary depending on your nationality). Jul 1, 2016 at 22:16
  • I know. LHR, LGW and MAN allow for airside Transit. Myself I've only ever been to LGW, and there domestic and internatoonal flights use the same gates. That's what made me wonder. Now it's been confirmed to me that to board a domestic flight or one to the Channel Islands/Isle of Man/Ireland (even though separate border checks are carried out in Dublin), a photo Needs to be taken at security, which can only be reached after Clearing Immigration. Not having one stored will cause you to be denied boarding
    – Crazydre
    Jul 1, 2016 at 22:20
  • LHR/MAN/LGW do not require an immigration inspection to do an international transit like US airports do.
    – Calchas
    Jul 19, 2016 at 10:23

All incoming passengers have to pass through security and/or immigration depending on their onward flight.

If you have a domestic connection, you have to follow the line for UK Connections where you will clear immigration. You are checked again on the way to the gate to verify you've cleared immigration so you can't even get to the aircraft without doing so.

  • Aha, so after following the Connections signs you don't end up in the "ordinary" departures hall? Like, does each international aircraft board pax at two places (one for connecting Pax and one for others)?
    – Crazydre
    Jul 1, 2016 at 16:41
  • Sorry, I should have written "Domestic flights do not leave from the international transit area". Response corrected.
    – DTRT
    Jul 1, 2016 at 16:43
  • The US did allow international transit passengers pre-9/11. In those cases, yes, the aircraft was essentially boarded from two different areas. It was a major hassle.
    – DTRT
    Jul 1, 2016 at 16:44
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    This is just plain wrong
    – Berwyn
    Jul 1, 2016 at 17:35
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    @Johns-305 If you know it's wrong (I don't, but am just going on your comment,) you should delete the answer. This way it doesn't confuse future readers.
    – reirab
    Jul 1, 2016 at 20:43

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