What Is The UK Registered Traveller Program?

If you’re currently enrolled in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry program, you’ve likely received an email in the past few weeks advertising the “UK Registered Traveller” scheme.

CBP-Registered-Traveller

I actually participated in the trial program for Registered Traveller, so have been using the service all year, and thought it might be useful to go through the details of the program.

What is Registered Traveller?

The UK Registered Traveller scheme is similar to the Global Entry program, in that members don’t have to interact with an official at Customs, and can instead use the automated passport gates.

The main difference, however, is that this isn’t geared towards residents of the UK or EU — those travelers can already use the eGates, so this is set up for foreigners (specifically those from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the USA).

Interestingly, there are a few additional restrictions:

  • You must be age 18 or over to apply
  • You must either:
    • have a visa (but not a Tier 5 concession (Creative and sporting), EEA family permit, discretionary leave or leave outside the rules)
    • have visited the UK 4 times in the last 52 weeks

So this is clearly not geared towards “the masses” like the Global Entry program, but is rather tailored towards those who are frequently traveling to the UK for business and such.

How much does Registered Traveller cost?

The biggest negative to the Registered Traveller scheme, to my mind, is the price.

  • It costs £70 to apply to use the service for 1 year (~$100)
  • If your application is unsuccessful you’ll get £50 back (~$75)

When I applied for the pilot program it was a bit less expensive (£50), but the fee was non-refundable.

Given this is a yearly fee (as opposed to the Global Entry fee, which is valid for five years, and is paid for by many credit cards), I think the cost is a bit outrageous.

How does the application process work?

It has been a few years since I’ve gone through the Global Entry application process, but I feel the Registered Traveller questionnaire was a bit less onerous (mainly because I didn’t have to list every country I’ve traveled to, which is always a bit of a burden):

UK-Registered-Traveller-02 UK-Registered-Traveller-03 UK-Registered-Traveller-04 UK-Registered-Traveller-05 UK-Registered-Traveller-06 UK-Registered-Traveller-07 UK-Registered-Traveller-08

After completing the questions, I just had to acknowledge the details, including the price (which, again, was a bit lower when I applied):

UK-Registered-Traveller-09

And once that was done, I received a confirmation and tracking number:

UK-Registered-Traveller-11

What happens once you’ve applied for Registered Traveller?

If nothing else, Her Majesty’s Government has a very thorough system of communication for this scheme. As soon as I submitted my application the screen displayed the next steps, as follows:

UK-Registered-Traveller-10

Finalizing your Registered Traveller application

A few days after submitting my application, I received an email confirming my acceptance into the Registered Traveller program, and informing me of the next steps:

UK-Registered-Traveller-13

It’s important to note that receiving this email does not finalize your application. Similar to the interview process for Global Entry, you still have to have a face-to-face with a border agent.

The nice part, however, is that you don’t have to schedule an interview. Just show up at any of the listed UK border checkpoints as normal (making sure you have a print out of your application confirmation), and they’ll complete the final paperwork.

This only takes a few minutes, at which point you’ll receive a membership card with your Registered Traveller number:

UK-Border-Force

An email confirmation followed immediately:

UK-Registered-Traveller-14

Along with an official authorization letter:

UK-Registered-Traveller-12

And from that point the process really is simple, and using the ePassport gates couldn’t be easier.

Is Registered Traveller worth it?

Having participated in the scheme for almost a full year, I think the answer for me, personally, is “not really.”

My travel profile is a bit different though — I’ve never arrived in the UK without having access to the Fast Track queues. Both top-tier airline elites and premium cabin travelers have access to these expedited lanes, and I’ve never had to wait more than five minutes for processing.

But I might just be lucky.

Because at Heathrow, at least, I’ve certainly heard of long queues for arriving passengers, even in business class. So if you’re generally landing during a time where queues are lengthy, you’ll probably get more of a benefit from being able to use the eGates. Frequent business travelers should certainly check to see if their company will pay the application fee.

Bottom line

At the end of the day, I think any systems that can leverage technology to improve the travel experience are great, and it’s nice to see the UK rolling out a program to streamline the border process.

That being said, I think the price is a bit steep, particularly as renewal costs haven’t been announced. If you’re a super-frequent traveler to the UK, and have the bad luck of arriving at high-volume times, then the cost is still probably worthwhile, but it’s a bit hard to justify for me personally.

Is anyone else enrolled in Registered Traveller? What has your experience been?

Comments

  1. I think the (4) time entry requirement is ridiculous. With Global Entry, there are other countries we can enter without any of this formal process (you’ve already been vetted by the USA, that should be sufficient.) For example, you can enter Australia through their e-gates without any additional fees or process. Same applies for New Zealand – just present your USA passport and you are through their e-gates in 30 seconds…done..

  2. @pointer

    If you believe that the vetting process is in any way credible then you have to accept that the UK intelligence services may have access to different intelligence into people’s background, or at least more up to date.

    That’s a big if on the credibility, though.

  3. Hello Everyone, Happy-end-of-TG-Wknd! It’s easy to say “it’s not worth it”, if you haven’t needed it. But as someone who uses it (and wouldn’t be without it) it’s a superb system if you are a frequent traveler (or “traveller” with two L’s in UK speak). The UK previously used to offer “Iris Scan” for we US people who go there frequently, but the system became outmoded, and was cancelled a couple of years ago. So until “RT” was started, border entry could occasionally become “waiting line hell”. Even if we get Business Fast-Track after long-haul flights, even those faster lines (especially during the early morning period with 25 or more 747’s arriving from everywhere) could still be frightening at 30 minutes minimum or more. But if one ever takes normal-class short-haul flights within Europe and back to UK, and does not have Fast Track (also because it’s often closed after peak hours), you can easily spend an hour on line at busy times. Frustrating!! So for a few years I avoided Heathrow as a hub entirely. But now with RT, I’m back to using Heathrow or Gatwick almost every month or two, and it’s a breeze again! PS: Just landed from Scandinavia at LHR an hour and a half ago, and I’m back at my hotel in central London, probably before some of the thousands of returning “weekend travelers” have made it thru the line. Thus if you use it successfully even a few good times per year, it has the worth of solid gold (platinum?)! Any other “RT’s” agree?

  4. Correction – This program doesn’t support EAA family permit holders (as you mentioned above).

    Instead, you get this:

    “Sorry, you are not eligible for the Registered Traveller Service
    You don’t hold a visa, residence permit or immigration leave in one of the currently eligible categories:

    Tiers 1, 2 or 4
    Tier 5 (excluding Creative/Sporting concession)
    Indefinite Leave to Remain
    Naturalisation
    UK Ancestry
    Family member or spouse/partner
    You can still apply to enter the UK through normal channels.”

  5. I am sorry to come over a bit Conan the Grammarian, but the system changes how you interact with Immigration, it does nothing to change how you interact with Customs.

    “members don’t have to interact with an official at Customs”

  6. @ Casa — Sorry for any confusion! I took the qualification requirements directly from UK.gov, which note that the EAA family permit is not eligible, as stated above.

  7. I usually arrive on the NH flight from HND (up until last year, it was from NRT) and that arrival is at the peak of the afternoon flood of arrivals. If I’m not flying NH F, the queues are quite long and the processing can take time. It can be frustrating at times. Unfortunately I only travel to the UK twice a year so I’ll either have to keep flying NH F, or any other airline allowing me fast track access.

  8. I don’t know when you’ve been arriving at LHR but I’ve very rarely gotten through in anything like 5 minutes. And in my experience, at least at LHR T3, the regular line is often quicker than the Fast Track line because there are more people but also more agents in the regular line. Plus, the agents in the regular line tend to be nicer, at least to me (perhaps because the Fast Track agents are used to dealing with snippy obnoxious business travelers).

    That said, at times when the regular line is bad, it often seems that the EU lines are also pretty bad, so I’m not sure how often you truly save a ton of time.

  9. It’s particularly worth it (and perhaps designed especially for) non-EU citizens who live in the UK and travel frequently. I travel around 1-2 times per month out of Heathrow, and when you’re travelling short-haul within Europe (even in BA Club Europe/business class), you usually don’t get a fast track pass. Land at Heathrow at the wrong time and it can take upwards of 30 minutes to get through passport control in the non-EU citizens line! (Although the UK Border has been conscientious at trying to improve the experience over the past year or so…) Unfortunately, I don’t have a chip in my passport yet, so am unable to use the e-gates, but the Registered Traveller programme still saves me a lot of time.

  10. Quick question – when it says “go to the All Other Passports” line at Border Control, is this the same line you enter when returning to the country (the slow one we are trying to avoid)? I.e., do you have to leave the country and be coming back in to get in this line and do the interview and so on to get your card, or is this a separate line within the airport?

    Thanks.

  11. Hi Tiffany!

    I received an email about this service and it’s quite tempting, but I haven’t yet arrived in the UK under my visa yet.

    I have a tier 5 youth mobility scheme visa that I will be entering on in mid-February, so I’m not sure if I have enough time to apply for this.. or if I’m even eligible.

    Do you have to have actually entered the UK on your visa before you qualify for this service, or can I apply for it and use it at my first arrival in the UK under this specific visa?

    Thank you kindly!

  12. @ Victoria — I’m actually not certain if you can use this prior to arriving on a specific visa. You should probably contact them directly, or go ahead and enter as normal (as I assume there’s extra paperwork when you’re entering under a new visa scheme), and ask them about it at that time.

  13. Hi Tiffany, thanks for your informative post. Just want to clarify 1 point, you said;
    You must either:
    – have a visa (but not a Tier 5 concession (Creative and sporting), EEA family permit, discretionary leave or leave outside the rules)
    – have visited the UK 4 times in the last 52 weeks
    I am a UK ILR – Infinite Leave to Remain (Permanent Residence) holder, then am I supposed to qualify even I didn’t make 4 times visit (since I’m living in the UK, thus I should say 4 times come back)?
    Appreciate if you just share your understanding.

  14. @Tiffany

    I noticed that your membership was to he renewed by January 2016, I was wondering – did you renew it? Was it easier to renew it as compared to the first-time application for this service? and did you have to submit proof of travel again? or did they ask for anything else in particular? I’d GREATLY appreciate your response whenever you get the time, I’d really appreciate your feedback on this! Thanks!

  15. @ Qmartinez — I did renew, and didn’t have to provide any additional information. I just paid the fee and received an email a week later with the updated expiration date.

  16. Tiffany,

    One last thing, after renewing online and receiving the email with the updated expiration date, must you finish enrollment and validate your membership renewal with a Border Force agent the next time you enter the UK again? Like when you just get ‘provisionally accepted’ the first time, and then become fully enrolled until you have another interview with Border Force the next time you enter the UK?

    THANKS so much!!!!

  17. @ Qmartinez — Not actually sure on that, as the first time I went through after renewal all of Europe was queuing for the e-gates, so I used the Fast Track lanes and ended up talking with the agent.

  18. Hi Tiffany,

    I have been provisionally accepted for the membership, and will get the membership card when I travel to UK next time, which is probably next week. What kind of questions will be asked at the immigration?

  19. For @Ku… Prior to the RT option, any and every passenger entering the UK is normally somewhere between “politely questioned and/or seriously quizzed”, by the Immigration Agent, as to their reasons for entering the UK, along with an occasional question (or two or three) about themselves. In fact sometimes these questions can even be a bit destabilizing… with the rather obvious intent to hopefully trip up someone who is fabricating any of their prior responses. Despite any occasional annoyance with this process, any good and very frequent traveler hopefully actually appreciates this process, as a way of keeping things a bit safer. But when you’re entering the UK multiple times a year, the Q&A gets old; so when you go for your RT “final interview” by the Immigarations Officer, you’ll be asked multiple simple questions about your reasons for entry, your work, where you’re from, etc. And the beauty of this? Once you have RT, you’ll breeze thru the Electronic Passport Gates where they exist, or in non-automated U.K. airports you will have a choice to also use the EU line (even post Brexit), where questions will almost never be asked again! PS: I’ve just renewed again for yet another year; and especially after an overnight flight to get there, the program is really excellent!

  20. If you are a NON EEA do you still have to get a stamp at the border if you are a Registered Traveller?

  21. I am a Registered Traveller with a non-visa US passport holder. What should I do if I am travel(l)ing with my wife and child who are not in the program(me). Do we still fill out landing cards and stand with “other passports” to be interviewed by the Border Force or can I glide my family through the EU gates as I would do if by myself?

  22. The restrictions on what constitutes a “criminal offense” is not clearly spelled out anywhere I can locate. Is there a specific list available? The US and UK courts system is different I want to be sure I understand it from the UK side.

  23. Dear Tiffany,

    I noticed that you said you’ve been using UK Registered Traveller since it was in its early stages and that you renewed in January 2016 simply by paying the fee and it updated your expiration date for another year, just wondering now — did you renew yet again this January 2017? and if you did renew for 2017 again for a second (or third) time, was it the very same process as when you renewed last year? They just email you about renewing and you pay the fee again and that’s all? or did you have to finally go through another interview since you’ve renewed multiple times now?

    Thanks for your help, your blog/posts about this are really helping!!! I appreciate your response very much whenever you have time.

    B

  24. @ Bremer — You know, I didn’t get an email this year, and I probably wouldn’t have renewed regardless. I’m going to the UK less often, so I don’t know that I’d be getting value out of it for how much it costs.

  25. Good to know! So besides when you first enrolled in the program, around how many times did you renew in total?

    Thanks much again!

  26. I have been accepted Registered Traveller since last October, and I will come back to the UK next month for the first time.
    What will I be asked if I use the UK/EU lane?

  27. @ Ku — Have you used the program at all since you registered? If not, you’ll be asked to confirm a few facts on your application, given a card, etc. It should be fast.

  28. @Tiffany- Thank you for your reply. I should’ve said that this would be the second time. After I got an email from Border Force, I went to the UK once and got the card then. I have already the card. I meant that this is the first time to go to the UK with the card. I understand that I don’t have to fill in the landing card and can use UK/EU lane or e-passport gate. My question is that if I will be asked some questions as I used to be asked before I got the card.

  29. @ Ku — Oh, if it’s the second time you just use the eGates. They might ask to see your card, but like Global Entry you can’t really plan for it.

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