- 9 minute read
- Last updated: 26th November 2019
Travelling under the Registered Traveller Service offers frequent business travellers a number of benefits.
What is the Registered Traveller Service, who is eligible and how do you apply?
This article covers:
- What is the Registered Traveller Service (RTS)?
- What are the benefits for business travellers?
- What are the limitations of the RTS?
- Who is eligible for RTS membership?
- How do I apply for RTS membership?
- How do I add a child to my RTS membership?
- How much does RTS membership cost?
- How do I renew my RTS membership?
- Tips on faster travel through UK passport control
The Registered Traveller Service is an effective way of ensuring faster and more convenient entry for frequent travellers through UK passport control. As a member of this service, a registered traveller can benefit from faster entry at both major airports and certain rail terminals by using UK and EU passport entry lanes, as well as the ePassport gates where their passport has a biometric chip.
The Registered Traveller Service can be used at the following airports:
- Cardiff International
- East Midlands
- London City
The Registered Traveller Service can also be used at the following Eurostar terminals:
Depending on the nature of the business trip to the UK, time can often be of the essence. In particular, for frequent business travellers, any delays in getting through UK passport control can provide unwelcome delays in an already hectic schedule.
The Registered Traveller Service is designed to make it easier and more convenient for regular travellers to the UK, including business travellers, to transit through immigration controls at major UK ports of entry.
By using the Registered Traveller Service this will allow you to use UK and EU passport entry lanes or ePassport gates, thereby significantly reducing any wait time to allow you to get on with your working day.
As a registered traveller member, you will no longer need to undergo an interview and/or have fingerprints taken as a visa holder.
The Registered Traveller Service has a number of limitations, not least in who is eligible to apply for membership under this service. The service is no longer accepting new membership applications from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States.
In particular, the Registered Traveller Service is now only available to qualifying citizens of certain countries (see below). However, passport holders from these other previously eligible countries no longer need to be registered traveller members to use ePassport gates when entering the UK.
For those applicants that remain eligible for the Registered Traveller Service, another limitation is the cost, namely the initial fee, plus additional fees for renewing or updating membership details.
That said, given the significant saving to be made on time, many employers are more than willing to allow business travellers to expense the RTS membership fee so that their executives and employees have a more seamless transition through the UK border.
To apply for membership under the Registered Traveller Service, you must satisfy the following eligibility criteria:
- Be aged at least 18 years old
- Be in possession of an eligible passport for specific countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North America, South and Central America, and Oceania
- Have a UK visa or entry clearance, where you will need to carry with you your visa or biometric residence permit if you have one
Have visited the UK at least 4 times in the last 24 months.
When calculating how many times you have entered the UK in the last 24 months, it counts as visiting if you have entered the UK from any other country, including EU countries. However, you cannot count those occasions on which you are simply passing through the UK en route to another country.
To satisfy the criteria for being in possession of an eligible passport you must be a passport holder from one of the following countries:
- Africa – Botswana, Namibia and the Seychelles
- Asia – Brunei, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Macao Special Administrative Region, Malaysia, Maldives, and Taiwan, albeit only for Taiwanese with a personal identification number in their passport
- Europe – Andorra, Monaco and the Vatican City State
- Middle East – Israel
- North America – Bahamas, Mexico, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- South and Central America – Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay
- Oceania – Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga.
To apply for membership under the Registered Traveller Service you will first need to ensure that you are eligible (see above). If so, you will next need to submit an online application that will take around 5-10 minutes. You will need your passport and its expiry date to apply, together with a debit or credit card to pay the relevant fee.
Having submitted your application, the Home Office will carry out background checks and contact you within 5 to 10 working days to advise you whether you have been successful and what you need to do next.
If successful at this stage, you will still need to complete your application at a UK border, ie; the next time you travel to the UK you will need to go through what’s described as the ‘other passports’ lane where an immigration officer will ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria and tell you if you can become an RTS member.
If so, you will be granted membership under the Registered Traveller Service for a period of 12 months. However, your membership will begin on the day you first submitted your application.
Even where you primarily seek faster entry through UK passport control for the purposes of business travel, you may, on occasions, also want to travel to the UK with your family, or even have your partner and children come to stay with you during the course of a business trip.
As such, you can apply to add a child as a registered traveller, as long as you have at least 29 days or more left on your membership for Registered Traveller Service. However, to be eligible, your child must be aged 17 or under, have an eligible passport and, in circumstances where they are not applying as a visitor, have a visa or entry clearance.
To apply on their behalf you will need your registered traveller number and your child’s passport number and expiry date. You will get a decision on your application within 10 working days.
Once your child has been added, the first time you and your child travel to the UK you must both go through the ‘other passports’ lane together. You may be required to prove the relationship between you and any child travelling with you, for example, if you have different surnames.
You can do this by giving the immigration officer a birth or adoption certificate showing your relationship to the child, or a divorce or marriage certificate if you are the parent but have a different surname to the child. The officer will then confirm your child has been added to your membership, although you will also receive confirmation of this via email within 48 hours.
Once you have added a child to your membership, you can both use the UK and EU passport lanes together, although you will not be able to use the ePassport gates. Your child can also travel with their other parent, as long as that parent is also a member of the Registered Traveller Service. Additionally, in advance of any travel arrangements, you will be required to email the Home Office with the full names and registered traveller numbers for you, your child and the child’s other parent.
To apply for membership under the Registered Traveller Service you will need to pay a fee of £70. However, this will only provide you with membership as a registered traveller for an initial period of 12 months.
You will also be required to pay a £20 administration fee to apply for each child, together with a membership fee calculated at £2 a month until your membership expires. However, you will be told how much to pay when you apply. You must apply and pay for each child separately.
In the event that your own application is unsuccessful, you will be given a rebate of £50. However, if the application on behalf of any child is rejected, you will not be reimbursed the £20 administration fee.
As set out above, your membership under the Registered Traveller Service will only last for a period of 12 months. The fee for renewing your RTS membership for a further 12 months will be reduced to £50.
The Home Office will usually email you details on how to renew your membership 28 days before it expires, although the onus will be on you to ensure that your membership does not expire.
Your child’s membership will expire at the same time as yours. However, you will need to renew your and your child’s memberships separately. To renew your child’s membership, you will need to sign in with their registered traveller number and date of birth. The fee for renewing their membership will again be calculated at £2 a month until your own membership expires.
In the event that you need to update your passport details under your membership, or those of your child, in circumstances where you or they have been issued with a new passport, you will need to pay a fee of £20. You will also need to ensure that you do this before you travel to the UK. Again, you will need to update your and your child’s memberships separately.
You will also be required to update your details, or your child’s details, if any visa or immigration status changes, although there is no fee to do so here.
During peak travel periods, such as school holidays or over the festive season, there is typically an increase in the number of travellers coming through the UK border. One way to ensure faster travel through UK passport control, not least where you need to come to the UK for the purposes of business, is to become a member of the Registered Traveller Service.
However, there are also additional ways in which you can help to ensure that you are processed more quickly. In particular, always keep your passport and travel documents on your person, rather than packing these away in your luggage, as you will need to show these on your arrival.
When passing through passport control, remove your passport from its cover and have it open at the photo page and stay together when travelling as a family as the immigration officer may have questions to establish your relationship with any child with whom you have a different surname.
In the event that you are travelling solo as a business traveller, rather than accompanied by your children, you will be able to use the ePassport gates for quicker entry. There are over 250 gates in place at 15 air and rail ports in the UK.
Typically, you will be eligible to use an ePassport gate where you have a biometric symbol on the cover of your passport and you are a member of the Registered Traveller Service. You can also use these gates if you are either a British citizen or a national of an EU country, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland or the United States.
If you use the ePassport gates, you will need to see a Border Force officer before you leave the port to receive a stamp in your passport. As a business traveller, you may need your passport stamped if you are coming to the UK to carry out, for example, permitted paid engagements.