A new EU digital border system that will require fingerprints and facial scans to be taken from British travellers on first use is expected to launch next autumn, according to reports.
The entry/exit system (EES) is earmarked to start on 6 October 2024.
It will replace the stamping of passports, which began after Brexit when the UK became a ‘third country’ to the bloc – meaning it is not a member state and does not have the right to free movement within the EU.
UK visitors to Europe are allowed to stay for 90 days out of 180.
According to the European Commission, the system will apply when entering 25 EU countries (all member states apart from Cyprus and Ireland) and four non-EU countries (Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein) that are part of the border-free Schengen area along with most EU member states.
Eurotunnel, which runs a car transport service between Folkestone and Calais, is said to be testing the technology, in which personal data will be collected at borders and entered into an EU-wide database.
Under the EES, passengers would have to agree to fingerprinting and facial image capture the first time they arrived on the continent. After that, the data, including any record of refused entry, should allow quicker processing, according to travel bosses.