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We will arrive from the USA about 7:00 on a Tuesday morning in August.  Any idea how long it will take to clear customs?  I'm trying to estimate a time to tell a car service to pick us up.  Also, about how long to get via car service to the Victoria station area in London?


Thank you.

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Have you asked the car service how they want to do it, and what the traveling time might be? They would be the experts. They might have a procedure for monitoring your flights, then being ready when they expect you to be. Many car services do it that way.

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The car service will have the best idea - but depending on the airline you fly You could be looking at a couple of hours I'm afraid.

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Posted (edited)

I just reserved one - our flight gets in at 6:50 AM and they set the time to pick us up at 8 AM - I had to enter flight information so they can monitor it.

 

Edited by Tricialy

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To be precise, "customs clearance" takes approximately 10 seconds. You just walk through the "nothing to declare" corridor. Immigration/Border Control, where your passports are checked is where you will experience possible delays.

It's important to know the difference if talking to your driver, because if you tell him you are just entering customs, he will expect  to see you virtually immediately.  

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As wowzz' post.

The main hold-up, as elsewhere in the world, is at immigration (passport control).

Bags will probably be on the carousel when you get to the baggage hall, from there it's a few steps thro' customs to the Arrivals Hall.

The whole process from touchdown to Arrivals Hall usually 90 minutes to 2 hours but very variable - I reckon the car service's 70 minutes is optimistic but it is early-morning. And east-bound trans-Atlantics arrive early more often than they arrive late.

Car service will monitor flight arrival. 

 

Useful to swap phone numbers before you fly.

If you phone when you arrive, do so from the baggage hall - if you're not out about ten minutes later, the driver will know that Customs have seized your heroin stash and hauled you away :classic_biggrin:

 

Drive-time for the 14 miles to Victoria is very variable. Usually about 40 minutes, but this isn't a good time so could be an hour or more.

 

JB :classic_smile:

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4 hours ago, wowzz said:

To be precise, "customs clearance" takes approximately 10 seconds. You just walk through the "nothing to declare" corridor. Immigration/Border Control, where your passports are checked is where you will experience possible delays.

It's important to know the difference if talking to your driver, because if you tell him you are just entering customs, he will expect  to see you virtually immediately.  

Totally agree. Not sure everyone is why everyone is concerned about Customs (the checking of your property, and it's ability to enter a country) and Immigration (frequently called Passport Control in Europe, and the ability of a person to enter a country). Customs is rarely an issue. Immigration/Passport Control can be huge lines at times. 

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2 hours ago, CruiserBruce said:

Totally agree. Not sure everyone is why everyone is concerned about Customs (the checking of your property, and it's ability to enter a country) and Immigration (frequently called Passport Control in Europe, and the ability of a person to enter a country). Customs is rarely an issue. Immigration/Passport Control can be huge lines at times. 

 

I don’t think they really are concerned about customs. I think many folks posing these questions have confused customs and immigration. 

Edited by Turtles06

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Every time I have flown into Heathrow from the USA, arriving early morning, it has taken at least an hour from the time I got off the plane to walking out into the main part of terminal 3.  

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Time also depends on what class of travel you use. On BA flights in business class, just before landing, you receive a fast track ticket for immigration. 

 

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By August, there will have been a couple of changes at the UK border. Landing cards are being abolished (from next week) and travellers from the nationalities listed below will be eligible to use the e-passport gates (from June). So, frankly, we have no idea what times will be like this summer. But for what it’s worth the Border Force performance standard is 45 minutes or less 95% of the time for non-EEA passengers and they have been getting pretty close at Heathrow. Of course, like any average that can hide some wide variations. 

 

I anticipate some teething troubles as millions more people use the gates each year, but my experience this year has been that they have been working OK - I can’t remember queuing for more than about 10 minutes and on occasion not at all. 

 

Nationalities eligible for the gates:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • United States
Edited by Cotswold Eagle

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20 minutes ago, rocklinmom said:

We will be flying into Heathrow from the USA in June, can you please explain to me what the e-passport gates are?  

They are automated kiosks/barriers You place your passport, open at the picture page, onto a scanner, and then look into the camera (for want of a better word) . If all is ok, the gate in front of you opens,  and you walk into the UK! There are staff wandering  around to help out.

Edited by wowzz

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Thank you, that is good to know!  We fly to Heathrow on Wednesday next week and hopefully we can get into the e-passport line!  

Edited by Diver2014

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20 minutes ago, Diver2014 said:

Thank you, that is good to know!  We fly to Heathrow on Wednesday next week and hopefully we can get into the e-passport line!  

Sorry,  the new procedures don't come into force until June, so you will still have to go through the old face to face check at Border Control.

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Of course, to use the e-passport gate you will need an e-passport. This is a biometric passport which includes a chip, which can be used at the automated ePassport gates instead of having your passport checked by a Border Force officer.  The chip holds the same information that is printed on the passport’s data page: the holder’s name, date of birth, and other biographic information. In some countries, including Germany, ePassports include two fingerprints as well.

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Here’s the Home Office video on using the gates (it refers to the current eligibility, of course). For the life of me I don’t know why they use animation rather than film of an actual person going through an actual gate, but it gives the idea!

 

 

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On 5/16/2019 at 9:34 PM, Cotswold Eagle said:

By August, there will have been a couple of changes at the UK border. Landing cards are being abolished (from next week) and travellers from the nationalities listed below will be eligible to use the e-passport gates (from June). So, frankly, we have no idea what times will be like this summer. But for what it’s worth the Border Force performance standard is 45 minutes or less 95% of the time for non-EEA passengers and they have been getting pretty close at Heathrow. Of course, like any average that can hide some wide variations. 

 

I anticipate some teething troubles as millions more people use the gates each year, but my experience this year has been that they have been working OK - I can’t remember queuing for more than about 10 minutes and on occasion not at all. 

 

Nationalities eligible for the gates:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • United States

Interesting info - searched on https://www.heathrow.com/arrivals/immigration-and-passports and couldn't find reference to specific effective date? 

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32 minutes ago, WESTEAST said:

Interesting info - searched on https://www.heathrow.com/arrivals/immigration-and-passports and couldn't find reference to specific effective date? 

 

It’s a matter for the government, not Heathrow, of course. As far as I know, no more precise date than “from June” has been announced:

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/epassport-gates-eligibility-expansion-confirmed-for-june

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On a similar note we are arriving on United at 9:20 am.  What time should we book National Express bus to Victoria Station?

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19 minutes ago, EllieinNJ said:

On a similar note we are arriving on United at 9:20 am.  What time should we book National Express bus to Victoria Station?

Best bet is to give yourself roughly 2hrs.  If you're through early and there's seats available on an earlier bus they'll let you change for a small fee think £5. And if you're late they'll also let you change to a later bus.  This is only available on routes from the airport.

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It took us an hour in line for Passport Control.  They finally brought in more people to speed up the process.  There was no signage telling us which carousal our luggage was on but it took us so long to get there, it was standing all by itself.  Being jet-lagged doesn't help your perspective on the process.  

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3 hours ago, shofer said:

It took us an hour in line for Passport Control.  They finally brought in more people to speed up the process.  There was no signage telling us which carousal our luggage was on but it took us so long to get there, it was standing all by itself.  Being jet-lagged doesn't help your perspective on the process.  

There are monitors after immigration telling you which flight is on which carousel. 

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39 minutes ago, newport dave said:

There are monitors after immigration telling you which flight is on which carousel. 

 

True, but in some terminals at Heathrow they are not in the most obvious or natural position. 

 

But shofer said their luggage was off the carousel, so may have meant that their flight had come off the board (a downside of efficient luggage delivery and delays at immigration controls, although flights are left showing as ‘Delivered’ at the relevant carousel for some time).

Edited by Cotswold Eagle

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On 5/17/2019 at 5:34 AM, Cotswold Eagle said:

By August, there will have been a couple of changes at the UK border. Landing cards are being abolished (from next week) and travellers from the nationalities listed below will be eligible to use the e-passport gates (from June). ..

 

Nationalities eligible for the gates:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • United States

 

On 5/17/2019 at 3:57 PM, wowzz said:

Sorry,  the new procedures don't come into force until June, so you will still have to go through the old face to face check at Border Control.

 

On 5/18/2019 at 5:41 PM, Cotswold Eagle said:

 

It’s a matter for the government, not Heathrow, of course. As far as I know, no more precise date than “from June” has been announced:

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/epassport-gates-eligibility-expansion-confirmed-for-june

 

The expansion of e-gates eligibility to those seven additional nationalities came into effect yesterday, Monday 20 May 2019: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-expands-use-of-epassport-gates-to-7-more-countries

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