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Immigration at airports

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mrmartin

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Was just travelling thru Gatwick today and remembered this thought which I have occasionally.

Would it be possible for someone to skip UK immigration entirely by doing this, using say Kiev as an example city.

Book Kiev - LGW flight.

Book Gatwick to Edinburgh flight on a different airline (say easyjet).

Go to flight connections at gatwick, which you'll be then placed AFIAK into airside (no need to go through security/immigration).

Take the flight and you'll come out Edinburgh UK arrivals with no immigration check.

What am I missing here?
 
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Phil.

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What's missing is you being put through customs/immigration upon arrival as it's not possible to go airside from internationals to domestics - unless things have changed which I very much doubt.
 

WestCoast

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You'll go through immigration and security at the flight connections centre.
 

tony_mac

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Presumably Gatwick is the same as Heathrow - if you are connecting then they record your boarding pass, and take a picture of you, at flight connections.

They will then check that picture when you board the next plane. (So you cannot arrive for an international connection, then 'swap' boarding passes with someone else and board a domestic flight instead of an international one).

And you always go through security again unless you are connecting from a domestic flight.
 

Flying_Turtle

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what would happen a few yearrs ago (and I dont know if it still is the case) is that if you fly on legacy conections, say FARO - HEATHROW - GLASGOW, your checked luggage would show up in the domestic carroussel in Glasgow but in Heathrow you would always pass through border control. Besides, even for transfers you may need transit visas ;)
 

W-on-Sea

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International arrivals (from outside the EU) and domestic/EU arrivals are treated differently on the ground, and immigration checks occur for everyone who arrives on one of the former flights, as soon as they arrive at the airport, regardless of whether they are leaving the airport directly or flying onto another destination.
 
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Barn

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Stansted and at least one Gatwick terminal used to land Irish flights at international gates rather than domestic ones, but with a lane to follow at passport control which just checked boarding passes rather than passports.

So I did worry at one time that you could:

Book Kiev - LGW flight.

Book Dublin - LGW flight.

Arrive on Kiev flight.

Wait in toilets etc until Dublin flight arrives.

Mingle in with Irish passengers and follow signs for "Arrivals from Ireland and Channel Islands".

Show home-printed Dublin boarding pass as evidence that you have flown in from Ireland.

Skip passport checks.

Not sure if this is still possible. I hope not.
 

me123

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No, this is not possible. International flights in the UK all clear immigration on arrival, and this includes all connecting passengers. Last time I went to America, I landed at LHR T3 and had to pass through immigration and security at Terminal 2 before I could catch my domestic flight back home.

As Barn has stated, Dublin is often the weak link. One previous time coming back from America, I landed in Dublin and passed through the connections lane. A very brief check of my passport was performed, and I was allowed through. (They glanced at it and waved me past). On arrival in Edinburgh, there was no customs or immigration check. As such, there was no check performed on my arrival into the UK. Whilst I theoretically was screened at Dublin for entry into the UK/Ireland common travel area, the check was very brief and I'm not convinced that a miscreant wouldn't have been able to slip past. The border guard did not know which flight I was coming from, and more importantly which flight I was connecting to.

I should state that Special Branch of Police Scotland (and an equivalent force in England and Wales, I would expect) do perform periodical identification checks of passengers arriving from the Republic of Ireland. It just so happened that my flight on this occasion was not screened.

As has been pointed out, LHR certainly (don't know about LGW) now takes a picture of all departing and connecting passengers which significantly minimises the risk of a boarding pass being handed over to someone else. However, EDI (which has far fewer connections than Heathrow in all fairness) has no such system in place.
 
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Bletchleyite

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Presumably Gatwick is the same as Heathrow - if you are connecting then they record your boarding pass, and take a picture of you, at flight connections.

Correct, that's how they do it in mixed departure halls with airside transit; this would prevent you doing the boarding card switch because your photograph would not be associated with the domestic boarding card.

There might, however, be a slight vulnerability in that airline staff occasionally just override if a boarding card won't scan, but because you wouldn't be able to control if that happened or not it would not be a useful vulnerability to exploit deliberately.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
As has been pointed out, LHR certainly (don't know about LGW) now takes a picture of all departing and connecting passengers which significantly minimises the risk of a boarding pass being handed over to someone else. However, EDI (which has far fewer connections than Heathrow in all fairness) has no such system in place.

EDI doesn't (in common with most smaller UK airports) have a flight connections facility. You have to enter the UK and repass security to connect. You only end up getting off a flight straight into departures if it originated from the UK (because UK security, and only UK security, is trusted). Therefore only people who have legally entered the UK are in departures.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Not sure if this is still possible. I hope not.

The CTA is an odd vulnerability in a lot of places. I do think we should move towards either a full Schengen-style open-borders scheme with Ireland with shared visas etc (in which case these would be domestic flights), or just abolish it and have a proper border.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
No, this is not possible. International flights in the UK all clear immigration on arrival, and this includes all connecting passengers.

No, they don't. At airports with an airside transit facility (in the UK this is probably just LHR and LGW, I doubt any others are big enough though Manchester might have it) you do not have to enter the UK if you are going to depart on another international flight.

Last time I went to America, I landed at LHR T3 and had to pass through immigration and security at Terminal 2 before I could catch my domestic flight back home.

This is true of domestics, though, as having to split a domestic between "has entered the UK" and "has not entered the UK" would be complicated.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Stansted and at least one Gatwick terminal used to land Irish flights at international gates rather than domestic ones, but with a lane to follow at passport control which just checked boarding passes rather than passports.

So I did worry at one time that you could:

If they were suspicious they could check if you boarded the Irish flight, I suppose, but that depends on them being suspicious.
 
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radamfi

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If multiple flights from Ireland to Gatwick South Terminal arrive at the same time there can be a long queue at the narrow corridor where you present the boarding pass and even if you have a passport you are not allowed to use the passport desks to save time.
 
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WestCoast

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No, this is not possible. International flights in the UK all clear immigration on arrival, and this includes all connecting passengers. Last time I went to America, I landed at LHR T3 and had to pass through immigration and security at Terminal 2 before I could catch my domestic flight back home.

As Barn has stated, Dublin is often the weak link. One previous time coming back from America, I landed in Dublin and passed through the connections lane. A very brief check of my passport was performed, and I was allowed through. (They glanced at it and waved me past). On arrival in Edinburgh, there was no customs or immigration check. As such, there was no check performed on my arrival into the UK. Whilst I theoretically was screened at Dublin for entry into the UK/Ireland common travel area, the check was very brief and I'm not convinced that a miscreant wouldn't have been able to slip past. The border guard did not know which flight I was coming from, and more importantly which flight I was connecting to.

I should state that Special Branch of Police Scotland (and an equivalent force in England and Wales, I would expect) do perform periodical identification checks of passengers arriving from the Republic of Ireland. It just so happened that my flight on this occasion was not screened.

Are you saying the Irish authorities are incompetent at securing the CTA border? Quite a serious accusation.

EU citizens aren't supposed to face questions at border control, due to freedom of movement regulations. The Irish authorities don't demand their officers scan every passport, most EU countries let their officers decide. If the officer is satisfied it's your passport, they let you pass. They'll have information of arriving passengers if anyone is flagged for further attention. Any non-EU citizens will be appropriately admitted to the CTA when the officer is confident everything is fine.

The US is not a high risk origin point, the border officers will be aware of the origins of arriving flights, most long-haul flights at Dublin are coming in from North America.

Passengers arriving in the UK from the ROI should be screened by customs (not immigration), you go through the appropriate lane after the baggage reclaim hall. This happens at Birmingham and Manchester airports for sure, but Edinburgh Airport is breaking the rules if this didn't happen.

I'm of the opinion that a lot of what the UK does is security theatre. Why do passengers arriving from the United States connecting to UK domestic flights need to be re-screened at security? The US has one of the toughest security regimes around. The Netherlands don't think it's necessary; passengers arriving on flights from the UK and US arriving at Schipol aren't re-screened.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
If multiple flights from Ireland to Gatwick South Terminal arrive at the same time there can be a long queue at the narrow corridor where you present the boarding pass and even if you have a passport you are not allowed to use the passport desks to save time.

They need to alter that system, it's just not good enough. The airport owners need to invest in a dedicated CTA arrivals channel.
 
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ivanhoe

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Are you saying the Irish authorities are incompetent at securing the CTA border? Quite a serious accusation.

EU citizens aren't supposed to face questions at border control, due to freedom of movement regulations. The Irish authorities don't demand their officers scan every passport, most EU countries let their officers decide. If the officer is satisfied it's your passport, they let you pass. They'll have information of arriving passengers if anyone is flagged for further attention. Any non-EU citizens will be appropriately admitted to the CTA when the officer is confident everything is fine.

The US is not a high risk origin point, the border officers will be aware of the origins of arriving flights, most long-haul flights at Dublin are coming in from North America.

Passengers arriving in the UK from the ROI should be screened by customs (not immigration), you go through the appropriate lane after the baggage reclaim hall. This happens at Birmingham and Manchester airports for sure, but Edinburgh Airport is breaking the rules if this didn't happen.

When you state going through the appropriate lane, do you mean anything to declare etc? I have arrived at Brum from Chicago via Dublin and went through an unmanned gate for ROI , IOM and Channel Ireland's flights. It was 7.30 in the morning like and a bank holiday, but the Aer Lingus flight was pretty full(A319). I can confirm that security checks and passport control in Dublin was appropriate, when arriving from Chicago.
 

WestCoast

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When you state going through the appropriate lane, do you mean anything to declare etc? I have arrived at Brum from Chicago via Dublin and went through an unmanned gate for ROI , IOM and Channel Ireland's flights. It was 7.30 in the morning like and a bank holiday, but the Aer Lingus flight was pretty full(A319). I can confirm that security checks and passport control in Dublin was appropriate, when arriving from Chicago.

Yes - the three channels; nothing to declare, arrivals from the EU and something to declare. Passengers from Ireland should go through these. Your bags are tagged with a label with green edges if you're coming from an EU origin (bags tagged in the US won't have these).

They're often unmanned regardless of where the flights are coming from, there are lots of cameras though (probably being watched remotely). A lot of customs in the UK is behind the scenes e.g. sniffer dogs before you collect the bags. From watching Customs UK documentary, biggest problem at Gatwick used to be too many cigarettes imported from places like Turkey and drugs smugglers arriving from the Caribbean.
 
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Bletchleyite

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The UK approach to customs has long been about targeting larger criminals rather than going for the tourist with one too many packets of fags.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

berneyarms

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Stansted and at least one Gatwick terminal used to land Irish flights at international gates rather than domestic ones, but with a lane to follow at passport control which just checked boarding passes rather than passports.

So I did worry at one time that you could:

Book Kiev - LGW flight.

Book Dublin - LGW flight.

Arrive on Kiev flight.

Wait in toilets etc until Dublin flight arrives.

Mingle in with Irish passengers and follow signs for "Arrivals from Ireland and Channel Islands".

Show home-printed Dublin boarding pass as evidence that you have flown in from Ireland.

Skip passport checks.

Not sure if this is still possible. I hope not.

If multiple flights from Ireland to Gatwick South Terminal arrive at the same time there can be a long queue at the narrow corridor where you present the boarding pass and even if you have a passport you are not allowed to use the passport desks to save time.

Gosh these posts are well out of date.

For well over a year all passengers arriving on flights from the Republic of Ireland into Gatwick have been bussed directly from the aircraft to a dedicated CTA arrivals area that has customs facilities.

They no longer mingle with other international passengers airside at Gatwick.

No, this is not possible. International flights in the UK all clear immigration on arrival, and this includes all connecting passengers. Last time I went to America, I landed at LHR T3 and had to pass through immigration and security at Terminal 2 before I could catch my domestic flight back home.

As Barn has stated, Dublin is often the weak link. One previous time coming back from America, I landed in Dublin and passed through the connections lane. A very brief check of my passport was performed, and I was allowed through. (They glanced at it and waved me past). On arrival in Edinburgh, there was no customs or immigration check. As such, there was no check performed on my arrival into the UK. Whilst I theoretically was screened at Dublin for entry into the UK/Ireland common travel area, the check was very brief and I'm not convinced that a miscreant wouldn't have been able to slip past. The border guard did not know which flight I was coming from, and more importantly which flight I was connecting to.

I should state that Special Branch of Police Scotland (and an equivalent force in England and Wales, I would expect) do perform periodical identification checks of passengers arriving from the Republic of Ireland. It just so happened that my flight on this occasion was not screened.

As has been pointed out, LHR certainly (don't know about LGW) now takes a picture of all departing and connecting passengers which significantly minimises the risk of a boarding pass being handed over to someone else. However, EDI (which has far fewer connections than Heathrow in all fairness) has no such system in place.

As an Irish citizen I take some offence to Dublin being described as "the weak link". In the case of Gatwick it was the failure of British authorities to put in place a dedicated arrivals area for flights from Ireland that caused the problem and not anything to do with Dublin or Ireland having a lack of controls.

In the case of arrivals into Dublin Airport - every single passenger on every arriving flight is subject to an immigration officer ID check, even those arriving on domestic and CTA flights, and those taking a connecting flight are also subject to an immigration check. I would hardly view that as being a weak control.

In the case of anyone with an Irish, UK or EU passport they are of course going to be allowed through immigration at Dublin without any hassle. Once the officer is happy that you are that person that's all they are obliged to do.

I find the tone of your post very insulting to Irish authorities to be honest - given Ireland check every single flight, that's way off the mark.

As for the arrival into Edinburgh, Irish flights are subject to customs checks but as posted by other posters these are very random and usually intelligence based. There are also random UK Border Force immigration checks on flights from the Irish Republic across UK airports - I've experienced them at both Heathrow and London City.
 
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gsnedders

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what would happen a few yearrs ago (and I dont know if it still is the case) is that if you fly on legacy conections, say FARO - HEATHROW - GLASGOW, your checked luggage would show up in the domestic carroussel in Glasgow but in Heathrow you would always pass through border control. Besides, even for transfers you may need transit visas ;)

At Glasgow there's a distinction between European Union Customs Union and other arrivals when it comes to domestic arrivals, because obviously only the latter cross a customs border. This matches up with green borders on luggage tags. Arrivals from outwith the EUCU you make an customs declaration by leaving the room (i.e., walking through a doorway instead of walking down a corridor).
 

Bletchleyite

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At Glasgow there's a distinction between European Union Customs Union and other arrivals when it comes to domestic arrivals, because obviously only the latter cross a customs border. This matches up with green borders on luggage tags. Arrivals from outwith the EUCU you make an customs declaration by leaving the room (i.e., walking through a doorway instead of walking down a corridor).

Interestingly at Luton they have combined green (nothing to declare) with blue (EU) as is usual in most other European countries, but is rare in the UK.
 

gsnedders

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Interestingly at Luton they have combined green (nothing to declare) with blue (EU) as is usual in most other European countries, but is rare in the UK.

I thought there was an important distinction—that people in the nothing to declare channel could be randomly searched, but those in the EUCU couldn't be. Though, well, yes, customs in Britain rarely goes for random searches.
 

mrmartin

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I'm pretty sure when I was flying from Vancouver to Edinburgh connecting thru LHR that I didn't go through customs, immigration or security at LHR again. I went off the plane and was back in T5. When I landed in Edinburgh I didn't show ID.

Might be wrong as it was a very long flight and I didn't sleep well.
 

Bletchleyite

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I thought there was an important distinction—that people in the nothing to declare channel could be randomly searched, but those in the EUCU couldn't be. Though, well, yes, customs in Britain rarely goes for random searches.

So far as I am aware anyone can be searched by customs on entry to the UK, EU or otherwise. It might require reasonable suspicion, but that's easy to establish, e.g. there is reasonable suspicion that anyone arriving from Amsterdam, particularly under the age of about 30, may be carrying soft drugs.
 

WestCoast

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I'm pretty sure when I was flying from Vancouver to Edinburgh connecting thru LHR that I didn't go through customs, immigration or security at LHR again. I went off the plane and was back in T5. When I landed in Edinburgh I didn't show ID.

Might be wrong as it was a very long flight and I didn't sleep well.

Definitely wrong :lol:. You go through the flight connections centre where it is handled. You might be remembering the outbound journey, where you exit the aircraft straight into T5.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
So far as I am aware anyone can be searched by customs on entry to the UK, EU or otherwise. It might require reasonable suspicion, but that's easy to establish, e.g. there is reasonable suspicion that anyone arriving from Amsterdam, particularly under the age of about 30, may be carrying soft drugs.

Rather than profiling, the best solution is sniffer dogs, which I have seen used once or twice. If the dog picks up a scent, you get pulled aside for a search.
 
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MedwayValiant

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The CTA is an odd vulnerability in a lot of places. I do think we should move towards either a full Schengen-style open-borders scheme with Ireland with shared visas etc (in which case these would be domestic flights), or just abolish it and have a proper border.

The latter option is close to being politically impossible, since the Irish government and the smaller community in Northern Ireland both consider it completely unacceptable.

There have been suggestions that the land border on the island of Ireland would have to become a "proper border" if the UK were to leave the EU, but most of those campaigning to do that thing say that it wouldn't have to be so.

A few nationalities need a visa to enter the UK, but do not need one to enter Ireland. In practice it is trivially easy for such a person to make his way into Northern Ireland, but rather more difficult for him to reach the British mainland undetected.
 

WestCoast

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I mentioned earlier that they don't scan every EU passport in Ireland, does anyone remember when this requirement was introduced at UK borders?

I seem to remember there was a period when biometric passports had been introduced, but they were only scanned randomly.

From frequent visits, they never do it in Spain, about half the time in Germany. When I travelled to Brussels last month, French immigration at St Pancras didn't do it either, even though there had been the terrorist incident in Belgium a week earlier.

Also found it interesting that Eurostar now has a sort of exit control, two bored looking Eurostar staff swiping passports and ID cards.
 
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Bletchleyite

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The UK has exit controls on all modes now - on airlines it's done using API, it can't be done that way on Eurostar because some tickets are not named (e.g. those issued by DB and NS Internationaal) and there is no method of collecting API.
 

berneyarms

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The latter option is close to being politically impossible, since the Irish government and the smaller community in Northern Ireland both consider it completely unacceptable.

There have been suggestions that the land border on the island of Ireland would have to become a "proper border" if the UK were to leave the EU, but most of those campaigning to do that thing say that it wouldn't have to be so.

A few nationalities need a visa to enter the UK, but do not need one to enter Ireland. In practice it is trivially easy for such a person to make his way into Northern Ireland, but rather more difficult for him to reach the British mainland undetected.

A sealed border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would be completely unacceptable politically either side of the border. It's a non-starter.

There are frequent spot checks along the border by both immigration authorities which are again mostly intelligence based.

The Irish and British governments have signed an agreement to share advance passenger information on all flights and ferries between the two jurisdictions which is due to be implemented within weeks.

There are also gradual moves to implement a common visa programme for both Ireland and the UK which should be the sensible way forward allowing travel across the CTA.

Let's be honest the vast majority of people entering the Republic of Ireland do so by air or sea. The numbers entering either jurisdiction across the land border and via domestic travel between NI and GB are not viewed as great in number.
 

thenorthern

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You do indeed go though Immigration when arriving from outside the United Kingdom and to transferring flights, even if one's next flight is outside of the United Kingdom then one must still pass though immigration i.e. going from Shanghai to Dublin and making an airside transit at London Heathrow will require going though immigration.

For many countries where citizens don't enjoy visa free travel to the United Kingdom such as Russia direct airside transit is possible without a visa. Certain countries however such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China, Iraq and most of Africa the Home Office has decided that the chance of citizens of their countries not making an airside transit as planned and trying to enter the United Kingdom is too great and thus citizens of these countries need a UK visa just to make an airside transit at a British Airport regardless of their final destination.
 

Bletchleyite

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You do indeed go though Immigration when arriving from outside the United Kingdom and to transferring flights, even if one's next flight is outside of the United Kingdom then one must still pass though immigration i.e. going from Shanghai to Dublin and making an airside transit at London Heathrow will require going though immigration.

This is not correct. Airside transit does not require one to enter the UK. The exception (per your example, in fact) is Ireland (CTA) which is treated as domestic for this purpose.

The US does have this policy - the UK does not. Though some nationalities do require a transit visa.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploa...903/UK_Visa_requirements_21_February_2016.pdf
 
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berneyarms

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You do indeed go though Immigration when arriving from outside the United Kingdom and to transferring flights, even if one's next flight is outside of the United Kingdom then one must still pass though immigration i.e. going from Shanghai to Dublin and making an airside transit at London Heathrow will require going though immigration.

For many countries where citizens don't enjoy visa free travel to the United Kingdom such as Russia direct airside transit is possible without a visa. Certain countries however such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China, Iraq and most of Africa the Home Office has decided that the chance of citizens of their countries not making an airside transit as planned and trying to enter the United Kingdom is too great and thus citizens of these countries need a UK visa just to make an airside transit at a British Airport regardless of their final destination.

As above - only international arriving passengers who are transferring to onwards flights to UK Domestic, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands destinations have to pass through UK immigration.

All other international transit passengers are exempt, but may require a transit visa.

That's the whole point of the photo/boarding pass check at Heathrow and Gatwick for passengers travelling on UK domestic/CTA flights prior to entering the airside area and at the boarding gate - it's to ensure an international passenger who hasn't cleared immigration doesn't try to board a UK domestic/CTA flight by swapping boarding passes with someone else within the airside area.
 
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tony_mac

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As above - only international arriving passengers who are transferring to onwards flights to UK Domestic, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands destinations have to pass through UK immigration.
The others are still assessed by an immigration officer at the border to see if they have the appropriate transit paperwork.
I'm happy enough if someone wants to call that process 'going through immigration' in this context.
 

Bletchleyite

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The others are still assessed by an immigration officer at the border to see if they have the appropriate transit paperwork.
I'm happy enough if someone wants to call that process 'going through immigration' in this context.

No, they are not. They do not pass through the UK border at all.

It may be that a member of airline staff does that assessment, but that does not constitute border control. Typically it is done before boarding the flight at the origin.

This:

http://www.britishairways.com/asset...connections_Terminal-5-to-Terminal-5_intl.pdf

refers.
 
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