UK travellers returning to the country from Europe will no longer have their passports stamped later this year as part of major changes set to be introduced. From November, passport holders entering and exiting the EU will now have their records digitised.
According to reports, an automated entry and exit system (ESS) will be used at the entry points instead, which is expected to cut waiting time and provide more accurate information on the travellers.
The European Commission’s department for Migration and Home Affairs said: “EES 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 overstayers.”
VFS Global, a company that administers visa application centres for UK Visas and Immigration, said they are aware of the changes and will work with the governments involved to help them with their transformation.
When a person passes an EU external border, the system records their name, type of travel document, biometric data such as fingerprints and facial images, as well as the date and location of arrival and exit. It will also keep track of entry refusals.
The 27 Schengen countries are Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
The legal procedures to pass the ETIAS started in 2016, and the system is expected to be fully operational in 2024. Travellers with visa-free entry to the Schengen Area will need to apply for travel authorisation online using the European Travel Information and Authorisation System.