Britons wanting to travel to Europe next summer holidays could be facing chaos, as fingerprinting and facial biometrics are set to be introduced.
Fingerprints and facial biometric soon required
The European Union (EU) will introduce an 'entry exit system' (EES) in May 2023 that will track the movements of travellers from 'third countries' i.e. everywhere outside the EU and Schengen area. For every British traveller entering the EU, the system will record the date and place of entry and exit, as well as fingerprints and a facial biometric, as reported by The Independent.
The EU says the system 'will replace the current system of manual stamping of passports, which is time consuming, does not provide reliable data on border crossings and does not allow a systematic detection of over-stayers.'
UK visitors will also have to apply online for a permit to enter under the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (Etias).
Chaos expected for car and train travellers
While fingerprinting and facial biometrics should be relatively smooth at airports, visitors entering via car, train, or ferry could experience some chaos. Tim Reardon, head of EU Exit for the Port of Dover, said:
There is no such thing as an e-gate for a car, and there is no such thing as an e-gate process for people travelling as a group. They’re all one-at-a-time processes. There is no way of doing a biometric control without getting everyone out of the vehicle.
That’s the one thing on our site which cannot happen because you’re in the middle of live traffic. It would be equivalent to asking people to get out of their car at a motorway toll booth. It’s fundamentally unsafe and it can’t happen.
Gareth Williams, strategy director for Eurostar, said:
We don’t currently see a practical solution. If we take the peak of August, up to 80 per cent of people will have to go through the system.
We do have a very extreme space challenge. At a minimum we would require over 30 kiosks, and an area about the size of our entire check in area at St Pancras.
If you're an EU citizen, you're lucky: you will be exempt from the new rules.
'Contactless corridors' could soon be a reality
It comes as Home Secretary, Priti Patel, announced on Wednesday 20 July that the Home Office will pilot 'contactless corridors,' which are 'fit for the 21st century' British travellers returning to the UK. Visitors will undergo pre-screening and will then be scanned automatically at 'smart' halls, which will be installed at airports and ports, as reported by The Times.
Foreign visitors travelling to the UK will have to submit biometric details via a smartphone app as part of the new Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme.