It’s the summer holiday season and many of us have been or soon will be popping across the Channel to mainland Europe for a hard-earned break. (We just got back from Greece, thanks for asking.) Since leaving the EU in 2020, our desire to travel across the continent has barely been impacted. And, apart from some slightly longer queues, hasn’t made it all that different.
But if you’re already planning next year’s European trip, however, you might soon find entry a little different. A new EU visa law will come into place in 2024, asking you to register your fingerprints at the border. Affecting all non-EU travellers, including the UK, USA and Australia, the new European Union Entry/Exit System (EES) will register the biometric details of all visitors.
The new system will be entirely automated. Arrivals will have their photographs and fingerprints taken at the border, while their passports are scanned. If you have ever been stuck behind someone at an Automated Passport Control, then this isn’t something we’re particularly looking forward to. It’s guaranteed to cause some headaches at the airport.
Originally proposed back in 2016, EES will replace the current system of manual stamping of passports. Advantages to the new system are apparently that it will cut time, “provide reliable data on border crossings” and detect overstayers (essentially travellers who have outstayed their visas). The EU will hold this data for three years before erasing it.
It’s not the only change coming in next year either. Soon any non-EU citizen must pay €7 to enter or travel through any EU country. So whether you’re booking beach holidays in the south of France, city breaks in Scandinavia, or work trips to Spain, you might find your visit to the EU a little different in 2024.