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Passport never works at eGates?

Passport never works at eGates?

Old Jun 29, 21, 12:34 pm
  #1  
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Passport never works at eGates?

Arrived back into LHR T5 yesterday and after enduring a 1 hour wait for the eGates (all EU pax were being sent to eGates only) I then got the dreaded "seek assistance" and had an additional 1 hour 30 mins wait for an officer. Meanwhile my partner was sat in the Costa in arrivals for an hour and half waiting for me as they went through the eGates all OK. All very frustrating.

I've travelled upwards of 30 times on this passport and it's never worked at the Heathrow eGates. I always ask the officer why and they say there is nothing wrong at their end and I must have "put it in wrong". It was issued in 2016 and has one of those very thin and flimsy photo pages. Up until now I've not really been that bothered but with the increased wait times due to COVID-19 does anyone have any suggestions? Can I ask the passport office to replace it? Bizarrely, it's always worked in the eGates I've used in other countries (and I have global entry in the US and it's always worked for that too).
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Old Jun 29, 21, 12:40 pm
  #2  
 
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I have the same problem and only ever at LHR. The last time it happened I was told it was because I have my passport in a thin plastic cover, but even without the cover it doesn’t scan. One time coming through Passport Control I was instructed to use the eGates, explained to the lady that my passport never scans, but she made me do it anyway. You guessed it, didn’t scan and I ended up at the back of the queue to see a human.
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Old Jun 29, 21, 12:58 pm
  #3  
 
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It could be a chip fault. Does it work in other UK airports?

There's an app you can download (ReadID) available for iPhone and Android, see if that picks up your chip. If it doesn't then it could be a fault, HMPO will (should) replace for free. Mine wasn't working in the gates and causing similar queueing issues and it was annoying me, got a free and very quick replacement.
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Old Jun 29, 21, 1:01 pm
  #4  
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It's impossible to answer this without a proper examination of the passport, but the usual reason is technique. There now several sorts of passport gates in the UK, and it is the case that some of them seem easier to use than others. In other words the gates are more or less tolerant of the different ways people place and hold their passports down. If the chip was brokern then clearly that would have been advised to you. The paper page is actually slightly more reliable than the previous laminated version. The best I can suggest is that you ensure the entire passport is kept flat on the patten, with the minimum pressure need to keep it flat, don't move the passport at all on the patten and remove any cards, leaflets and other such items that would interfere or reduce the NFC transmission from the passport. If your phone or watch have NFC items attached (e.g. credit cards, travelcards) keep them well away. from the passport machine.

In extremis I guess you could simply apply for a new passport.
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Old Jun 29, 21, 1:01 pm
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I've been advised (after being told by a UKB official and having also raised the issue with my MP) that particularly common surnames such as mine will suffer with not being able to use the egates. No discount on a passport application either even though I can't use service.
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Old Jun 29, 21, 1:05 pm
  #6  
 
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Over time my passport developed a kink in the paper of the photo page near the spine, the plastic lamination doesn't extend all the way, it's exactly where the lamination ends.

I have to hold it down very firmly in that area otherwise I get the message to retry.

From memory the LHR egates are fussier about it than others, came through there Sunday and it took two goes to get through.
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Old Jun 29, 21, 1:12 pm
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My old French passport never worked with eGates here but did very well almost everywhere else. The new one works here too. So I think it’s to do with the document itself.
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Old Jun 29, 21, 1:35 pm
  #8  
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I was told it was likely a chip problem 3/4 years back so sent it off with a covering letter to passport office. They sent it back saying no issue, but it worked every time from then onwards!
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Old Jun 29, 21, 1:41 pm
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My US passport works fine on the US machines but not at the Heathrow eGates. Still the agents standing by the eGates make me go to at least 2 machines every time before sending me to the boarder control officers. I strongly believe that the problem is finicky passport readers or some internal checks they have implemented in the software. To make things worse the machines give no meaningful info, just "seek assistance". There is no damage to my passport and no cover. The entire process is very unrefined.
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Old Jun 29, 21, 1:44 pm
  #10  
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Originally Posted by corporate-wage-slave View Post
It's impossible to answer this without a proper examination of the passport, but the usual reason is technique. There now several sorts of passport gates in the UK, and it is the case that some of them seem easier to use than others. In other words the gates are more or less tolerant of the different ways people place and hold their passports down. If the chip was brokern then clearly that would have been advised to you. The paper page is actually slightly more reliable than the previous laminated version. The best I can suggest is that you ensure the entire passport is kept flat on the patten, with the minimum pressure need to keep it flat, don't move the passport at all on the patten and remove any cards, leaflets and other such items that would interfere or reduce the NFC transmission from the passport. If your phone or watch have NFC items attached (e.g. credit cards, travelcards) keep them well away. from the passport machine.

In extremis I guess you could simply apply for a new passport.
Well perhaps I push it down "too hard" then; I am always so conscious of it getting rejected so I likely overthink it and try too hard to get it aligned...

With regards to the spine, I do think mine wasn't bound very well as it feels as though the photo page was too tightly bound to the spine and doesn't come down far enough.
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Old Jun 29, 21, 1:47 pm
  #11  
 
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Same with me. It’s got to the stage that I know in advance that I’m going to have to make numerous attempts at the LHR eGate and it won’t work, even though it works at every other airport. Mine’s a 2016 passport as well.

I used to use those iris recognition scanners as well. They never worked either!
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Last edited by vanmunchen; Jun 29, 21 at 1:57 pm
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Old Jun 29, 21, 2:13 pm
  #12  
 
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Oh wow, those waits are still crazy huh? Not looking forward to my first return through T5 in a few weeks time.
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Old Jun 29, 21, 2:19 pm
  #13  
 
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I used to have the same problem, always made worse by some bored and barely literarate teen in
purple there to "assist". It staggers me any corporation thinks that it's a good first impression.
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Old Jun 29, 21, 2:24 pm
  #14  
 
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I also have this problem. For five years traveled weekly and never once had an issue at any other airport except Heathrow. I asked Border Force and they said to fully bend my passport in half when putting it in. It didnt make any difference. They said they couldnt see any chip issue either.

Ive also gone to the manned desks only to be told I have to try the egates first, which then reject me. It is so frustrating.
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Old Jun 29, 21, 3:14 pm
  #15  
 
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Originally Posted by citiflyerUK View Post

Ive also gone to the manned desks only to be told I have to try the egates first, which then reject me. It is so frustrating.
If it was busy enough for anyone not to notice/or care, I always used to go straight to the e-gate reject queue. It was often quite a bit quicker than the regular queue. Although my old passport never worked in the e-gates anyway.
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