Immigration and passports
Unless you are catching a connecting flight, your first stop after arrival will be passport control. Please note if you are arriving In Terminal 5B and Terminal 5C, you will need to take the transit train.
What to do at the border
There are two queues at passport control – one for European Union (EU)*, European Economic Area (EEA), British and Swiss nationals, and a second for all other nationalities.
At the passport desk a Border Force officer will ask to see your passport or travel document and any supporting documentation necessary for your visit. Your passport must be valid for the whole of your stay.
For information about entry requirements into the United Kingdom, visit the Border Force website.
With tougher checks now in place at the border, you may have to wait a little longer to get into the United Kingdom, especially at peak times.
E-passport gates – arrivals made easy
Automated e-passport gates offer an alternative to conventional passport checks.
Simply scan your e-passport at the barrier. The system runs a face-recognition check against the chip in your passport, then if you're eligible to enter the UK the gate opens automatically – all in a matter of seconds.
You need to be over 18 and have an e-passport (look for the 'chip' logo on the front) issued by a country in the European Economic Area* or Switzerland.
Border Force's Registered Traveller service
You can apply to join the Registered Traveller Service if you’re a national of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand or the USA who regularly flies to Heathrow. At passport control, you’ll be able to use the ePassport gates (if you have a biometric passport) and the UK/EU channel.
For more information visit gov.uk/registered-traveller
Stopovers in Britain
There is nowhere to sleep in the airport. If your booking includes a stopover in a local hotel, follow Arrivals and leave the airport via passport control, baggage reclaim and Customs, then check in as normal when it's time to continue your journey. Your travel documents must allow you entry into the UK.
You can apply for a 24-hour visa on arrival. These are granted at the discretion of the Immigration Officer, who must be satisfied that you have a confirmed booking of onward travel within 24 hours.
* The European Union and European Economic Area
EU countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Irish Republic, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom.
Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Norway are not members of the European Union (EU) but citizens of these countries have the same rights to enter, live in and work in the United Kingdom as EU citizens.