The implementation of EU fingerprint checks on British travellers is scheduled to commence in 2024.

Under the new entry/exit system, UK passengers will also be required to undergo facial scans on their first trip after the system’s launch. This system, which is expected to be implemented next autumn, will also collect fingerprints and facial scans from British travellers, according to reports.

The entry/exit system (EES) is scheduled to begin on 6 October 2024, as reported by the i and Times newspapers, citing Getlink, the owner of Eurotunnel. The Guardian has reached out to Getlink for comment.

Eurotunnel, the company that operates a car transport service between Folkestone and Calais, is reportedly conducting tests on the technology. Personal data will be collected at the borders and entered into a database that covers the entire European Union.

Under the EES, passengers will need to consent to fingerprinting and facial image capture on their first arrival in the continent. Subsequent use of this data, including any records of refused entry, is expected to streamline the processing time, according to travel authorities.

The initial rollout, originally planned for this year, was delayed due to concerns over potential disruptions during the summer Olympics in Paris.

The introduction of the system is anticipated to cause significant delays. The Port of Dover has estimated that the additional requirements could add up to 10 minutes for a family of five traveling in a vehicle on their first trip after the EES is implemented, compared to the current processing time of approximately 45-90 seconds.

Eurotunnel estimates that the average processing time for a car at the French border will increase from less than 60 seconds to 5-7 minutes.

This system will be applicable when entering 25 EU countries (excluding Cyprus and Ireland), as well as four non-EU countries (Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and Lichtenstein) that are part of the border-free Schengen area, along with most EU member states, according to the European Commission.

The checks will be conducted in England, as the UK government has reciprocal agreements with France that allow the French authorities to carry out border checks at UK departure points to the EU. These points include the Port of Dover, Eurotunnel, and Eurostar.

Representatives from Eurotunnel have previously expressed concerns about the implications of the system. They stated, “It is what happens when the enrolment is happening at the French booths, which blocks the exit check booths for the UK, which in turn blocks check-in and then creates queues leading up to the check-in that back up onto the motorway. That then puts static passenger traffic on the high-speed motorway.”

Once the EES is fully operational, the EU plans to introduce the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) for non-EU citizens from 60 visa-free countries. Similar to the US Esta scheme, ETIAS will require non-EU travellers to complete a form and pay a €7 (£6) fee prior to entering Europe’s passport-free zone. The fee will be valid for multiple visits over a three-year period, and approval is expected to be granted within minutes in most cases.

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