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In an answer to a question on entering the UK as a non-National, there was this interesting snippet of information:

Even Brits are subject to portions of the landing interview.

I'd always sort of assumed that a British National entering the UK on a British Passport wouldn't be subject to any sort of landing interview, just a comparison (by officer or e-gate) with the passport photo and potentially a scan of the passport.

So, what portions of a landing interview would apply to a British National entering the UK, and what (if any) documentation might they want to bring beyond their British Passport?

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    How can the officer know that the person is actually a British National and not a random guy with a forged or stolen passport? By asking questions, of course ...
    – o.m.
    Jun 9, 2017 at 15:49
  • 1
    See also travel.stackexchange.com/questions/94268/…
    – Calchas
    Jun 9, 2017 at 17:21

3 Answers 3

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In most countries (maybe all) everyone, including citizens, is subject to interview and inspection and the Officer can ask pretty much anything they want*.

If a citizen is worried about the process, for legitimate or fanciful reasons, they should know the exact extent of what border Officers, Immigration and/or Customs, can do. For example, a US citizen cannot be prevented from entering the United States. They can be questioned, searched, detained, examined, etc. but cannot be turned away. They can be arrested immediately after admission, but not sent back.

*For the nitpickers, they're not going to ask random irrelevant questions, "How many Pokemon did you catch?", unless they're trying to elicit physical clues as to the veracity of the traveler's other claims.

As an aside, I have noticed that UK Border Force regularly asks the most questions.

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    Officer: Why did you wait three hours to go through customs after landing? Traveller: I was catching Pokemon, sir.
    – gerrit
    Jun 9, 2017 at 14:20
  • @gerrit If you are headed mainland China through Hong Kong or Macau, that is a 100% perfectly legitimate reason. ;)
    – DTRT
    Jun 9, 2017 at 14:24
  • Some nitpicking for you: there is no border control in the Schengen Area, and there is no customs control in the EU. Of course I understand that UK never joined Schengen, and is about to part EU, plus the "most countries"-part is just true.
    – tevemadar
    Jun 9, 2017 at 23:33
  • @tevemadar to get into Poland from Ukraine one must pass through border control, including customs. Poland is in both the EU and the Schengen area.
    – phoog
    Jun 9, 2017 at 23:48
  • @phoog That is an outside border of both. I wrote 'in' for 'inside'. I am sorry, if that was confusing.
    – tevemadar
    Jun 9, 2017 at 23:52
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Where are you travelling from? What is in your suitcase? What was the purpose of your trip? These are all questions my English roommate has been asked on entering the UK.

The British passport only ensures they will be allowed in the country. They still have to answer for any illegal things in their bags, and any crimes committed while abroad. Or, for that matter any crimes they are wanted for in their home country. They may also want to make sure that the ID document you are using actually belongs to you. This can lead to questions like "What's your date of birth?"

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  • ...of course, meaning, in practice, you can be asked just about anything, and the justification for any question will be the above (and also terrorism/national security, because that's the world we live in). Jun 9, 2017 at 19:58
  • @HopelessN00b Pretty much, yes. The only difference between a national and a non-national is that the national will be let into the country no matter what their answers. Eventually.
    – user141592
    Jun 11, 2017 at 13:14
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I was on a business trip in the UK which I extended into a two week holiday being joined by my wife and son from South Africa. On arrival the British immigration after being told by my wife why they where there asked my 10 year old son: When did Daddy leave home, and after getting that answer asked him is it school holidays now. It was actually not and my son said so, but my wife noted the immigration officers eyes went to a South African calendar on the wall, presumably checking the dates of school holidays.

On another occasion my brother-in-law, travelling with his whole family, lost the family passports, after check-in but before boarding, at the airport. He left the family to go to the bank carrying his satchel and my sister had the boarding passes in her bag. When they went to board he realized his satchel was missing, and they could not trace it. The airline referred to departing immigration who said they could exit South Africa as they were UK citizens and the airline took a chance. On arrival in the UK, after UK border control listened to the whole story they turned to the youngest and asked a question using local Bristol colloquialisms and slang in that. After he had answered they asked a question which caused the two younger children to have a conversation between themselves and that seemed to convince them that the family were indeed residents of Bristol granting them access to the UK.

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