In the coming year, UK travellers will encounter new regulations as the EU introduces the Entry/Exit Scheme (EES) alongside the post-Brexit travel permit ETIAS. Scheduled to commence on October 6, 2024, following a series of delays.
According to reports from the I and the Times, British travellers entering the EU will undergo fingerprinting and facial scanning starting next autumn. Originally introduced in 2022 and later postponed to 2023, the EES faced further delays at the request of France, pushing its start date to accommodate the Paris Olympics in the summer.
- Understanding the New Rules
Non-EU travellers, including those from the UK, will undergo fingerprint checks and facial scans upon their initial entry into the EU. This procedure will apply to all EU countries, excluding Cyprus and Ireland. Additionally, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein, although not EU states, will participate as they are part of the Schengen area.
The EES will record essential information such as the traveller's name, type of travel document, biometric data, and the date and place of entry and exit. For data protection reasons, this information will be erased three years after collection.
- Purpose Behind the Checks
The EU asserts that the EES aims to streamline the process and save time by replacing traditional passport stamping and automating border control procedures. However, concerns have been raised about potential delays at border checkpoints in the UK, particularly at the Port of Dover, Eurostar, and Eurotunnel terminals.
In July, John Keefe, chief corporate and public affairs officer at Getlink, criticised the system for being tailored to airports without considering the unique nature of transport across the Channel.
- What to Expect Before Traveling to the EU
British travellers need not take any specific actions as the EES will be automatically implemented. The system will work in conjunction with the new ETIAS authorisation system, set to be enforced in 2024. To travel to the EU, UK citizens will need to obtain an ETIAS travel permit, costing £6 and valid for three years.
- Exploring Biometrics
Biometrics, a method of measuring or identifying individuals through biological characteristics such as fingerprints or eye scans, is not a new concept. Already employed in airports worldwide and within law enforcement, biometrics are part of daily life, with many individuals using fingerprint or facial scans to unlock their phones.