New EU Border Regulations Set to Commence Next Year
British travellers, are you prepared for the forthcoming changes in European travel? Starting from the autumn of next year, those journeying to Europe will encounter revised border control measures. Following a series of delays and much speculation, UK citizens will soon be subject to fingerprint verification and facial recognition checks, as part of the European Union’s new Entry/Exit System (EES). This system, scheduled to launch on October 6, 2024, aims to modernize border control by replacing the traditional passport stamping method established post-Brexit.
Potential Impact on Travel Times
The EES is designed to bolster security by collecting biometric data, including facial images and four fingerprints, from travellers entering EU countries. However, concerns have been raised about the potential increase in border processing times. Slovenian authorities, for example, estimate that the new procedures could quadruple waiting times. Despite these concerns, the implementation of the EES in 2024 is confirmed. Travellers will be required to provide personal details such as name, date of birth, nationality, gender, travel document information, and the respective three-letter country code. The sole exception to these requirements will be for children under the age of 12.
Variations in Country-Specific Responses
Responses to the new system vary across the EU. Austrian officials expect processing times to double, while Croatian authorities predict significantly longer checks. In France, EES controls will be enforced at major points including the Port of Dover, Folkestone for the Eurotunnel, and St Pancras International for Eurostar services. Eurotunnel has indicated a possible increase of six minutes in processing time per vehicle.
EES and Future Developments
The EES will apply to all EU countries, with the exceptions of Cyprus and Ireland, and will also include Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. Its introduction was partly delayed due to the Paris summer Olympics to avoid travel disruptions. Roughly six months after the EES rollout, the EU plans to introduce Etias, a visa waiver system similar to the US Esta, which will be priced at €7 per person and will be required for entry into the Schengen Area.
Despite the raised concerns, EU officials maintain that the EES will streamline travel. A spokesperson highlighted, “The main advantage of the EES is time efficiency. It replaces the process of passport stamping and automates border controls, thus making travel more efficient.”
Easing the Transition for Travelers
To make the transition to these new regulations easier, we recommend that British travellers stay informed about the changes and prepare accordingly. This means familiarising themselves with the requirements of the EES and ETIAS systems and allowing extra time for border procedures when planning trips to the EU.
Advice for British Travelers
If you are planning to travel to EU countries after the EES is implemented, it is important to:
- Stay updated on the latest travel advisories and requirements.
- Ensure that all your travel documents are up to date and meet the demands of the new systems.
- Allocate additional time for border controls to accommodate potential delays in processing times.
- Consider applying for ETIAS as soon as it becomes available to ensure a smooth entry into the Schengen Area.
While these changes bring a significant shift in the travel process for UK citizens visiting the EU, their purpose is to enhance security and streamline border controls in the long term. By staying informed and prepared, British holidaymakers can navigate these changes smoothly and continue to enjoy their trips to Europe with minimal disruption.