Thursday, June 20, 2024

What are the EU’s new EES travel rules and how will they impact Brits?

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Do you know about the upcoming changes? (Picture: Getty Images)

A staggering number of British holidaymakers are unaware of changes happening this year to the way we travel to EU countries.

Nearly two thirds said they of people questioned said they didn’t know about the introduction of fingerprints and facial scans when crossing borders.

The Entry/Exit Scheme (EES) will come in tandem with us needing to buy a visa waiver to visit EU and Schengen countries.

Here, we break down what the new border control system is and what to expect when going on holiday in Europe.

What is EES and how is it different to ETIAS?

EES is an automated system to register travellers from non-EU countries every time they cross a border into or out of the EU. 

The system will register the person’s name, the type of travelling document they’re using, biometric data (fingerprints and captured facial images), and the date and place of entry and exit. 

British passport and airline boarding pass
The changes will impact Brits travelling to EU and Schengen countries (Picture: Getty Images)

Once the data has been captured, it’s expected to remain in the system for three years. After this time has passed, it will be erased from the system.

Travellers won’t need to re-register this data if they travel to multiple Schengen Zone countries within the three-year period.

The EU says on its website that ‘the main advantage of the EES is saving time,’ because it replaces passport stamping and ‘automates border control procedures’ to make travelling more efficient.

It remains to be seen how the system will impact travel, but in the poll by Co-op insurance, 46% of British travellers said they felt put off by the process of storing this type of data for three years.

The EES scheme is different to the European Travel Information and Authorisation Scheme (ETIAS), which will run alongside the former and require British travellers to apply for a visa waiver to visit most EU countries.

The expected fee of the visa waiver is €7 (£6) to visit any country in the Schengen Area.

Will UK citizens need to use EES?

Yes. As a result of the UK voting to leave the European Union, Brits will have to follow the same rules as other countries outside of the EU.

You will have to scan your passport at an automated self-service kiosk before crossing the border.

This process will sadly replace the manual stamping of passports for visitors to countries in the EU and Schengen Area, who are not themselves nationals of EU or Schengen countries. 

EES will apply when entering the 25 EU countries and four non-EU countries below:



The countries where EES will apply

  1. Austria
  2. Belgium
  3. Bulgaria
  4. Croatia
  5. Czech Republic
  6. Denmark
  7. Estonia
  8. Finland
  9. France
  10. Germany
  11. Greece
  12. Hungary
  13. Iceland
  14. Italy
  15. Latvia
  16. Liechtenstein
  17. Lithuania
  18. Luxembourg
  19. Malta
  20. Netherlands
  21. Norway
  22. Poland
  23. Portugal
  24. Romania
  25. Slovakia
  26. Slovenia
  27. Spain
  28. Sweden
  29. Switzerland

EES will also operate at the Port of Dover, Eurostar and Eurotunnel terminals.

Schengen rules restrict visitors who are not nationals of EU or Schengen countries to short stays of 90 days within a 180-day period. EES will make sure people follow this rule and will record those who overstay while EES data will be used to record refusals of entry.

What date will the new EES and ETIAS rules start?

The exact date for both changes is still to be confirmed.

The introduction of EES has already been delayed several times; it was originally meant to be implemented in 2022, and was then scheduled for May 2023 before it was pushed back to the end of last year.

It’s now slated to come into effect from October 2024 after France requested that it be pushed back until after the Olympics and Paralympics in Paris this summer. 

ETIAS, which was slated to be implemented later this year, is now set to begin in mid-2025.


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