U.K.: Biometric Visas Efficient and Working

By Matthew Harwood

The United Kingdom's new biometric visa system has not only made checking an applicant's identity faster, but the system cost about half of what was initially budgeted, according to

The British visa checking agency, UKvisas, says that a visa applicant's identity can now be confirmed in 30 minutes rather than the two days it took before the new system became operational.

Better yet, the system cost only £37 million, almost 50 percent less than its original budget of £70 million.

Began a year ago, the United Kingdom's biometric visa system is now fully operational and contains the fingerprints of more than a million previous applicants.

The systems covers 133 countries, about three-fourth of the world's population, and "has already uncovered 10,000 visa applicants connected to earlier immigration cases and asylum requests and detected 500 cases of identity swapping."

By 2015, the majority people entering and leaving the United Kingdom with hold an identification document that contains biometrics, Matthew Finn, director of government and security for SITA, told

He added that the move to biometrics will make flying easier as manual security checks become the exception rather than the rule.


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