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Airports: Biometrics

Volume 481: debated on Thursday 23 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what her policy is on the compulsory (a) fingerprinting, (b) iris scanning and (c) photographing of (i) UK and (ii) other passengers at UK airports. (226479)

Taking biometrics allows UKBA to fix and verify a person’s identity, allowing a more informed decision about a person’s eligibility and entitlement to enter the UK.

Under current policy, an authorised person has powers to require any arriving passenger, regardless of claimed nationality, to provide biometrics in the form of fingerprints and a photograph of their face at all ports of entry, including airports, for the purpose of ascertaining whether a passport or other document is genuine and relates to the person being examined. This may sometimes require both UK and other nationals to provide fingerprints and photographs to enable the UKBA to verify their identity and nationality.

The UK Border Agency will not store the biometric features of British citizens and EEA nationals.

Compulsory fingerprints and facial photographs are required from all visa applicants before arrival in the UK, and we are committed to extending this requirement, so that all foreign nationals from outside the European economic area register their fingerprints and facial photograph before crossing the border.