British holidaymakers warned to prepare for major new airport rules in 29 European countries

The new system will record fingerprints and facial images at the border
The new system will record fingerprints and facial images at the border -Credit:Getty Images/iStockphoto

Brits planning autumn and winter getaways have been warned of major changes coming into force before the end of this year affecting travel in and out of the European Union.

A total of 29 countries in Europe are set to implement a new Entry/Exit System (EES), an automated IT system designed to register travellers from outside the EU using their name, travel document, and biometric data - namely fingerprints and facial images. After multiple delays in rolling out the new system, it is expected to be implemented in airports across all countries in the Schengen Area in October, including Spain, Greece, Italy, France and Germany.

This new system will replace manual passport stamping, and will mean non-EU travellers including Brits will need to instead scan their passports at a self-service kiosk prior to crossing the border, Birmingham Live reports. Personal data will be collected and stored to make it easier to keep track of short stay travellers, with a short stay defined as a maximum of 90 days in any 180-day period.

Within six months of the EES being fully operational, British tourists and others from outside the EU will have to apply online for permission to enter. This new European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is expected to be set up by summer 2025, and will require most UK travellers to pay £6 to apply for travel authorisation to last them up to three years.

The EES is also designed to "save time", EU officials said, although some have raised concerns that it could end up making the process of crossing the border longer for tourists. According to the ETIAS website, Eurotunnel expects the new requirements to increase car processing time at the France-UK border from under 60 seconds to five to seven minutes per vehicle.

This new system could also have a particular impact on long-term immigrants and travellers planning extended stays within the EU, ETIAS said. Families emmigrating together will need to provide biometric data for every member when entering or exiting the EU, while students studying abroad in Europe will encounter the same biometrics process when arriving for school and returning home on breaks.

Digital nomads and remote workers staying for months in various EU countries will also need to give fingerprints and photos at each border. "While not a barrier for tourism and short trips, it could discourage long-term residence for third country nationals," ETIAS warned.

"Supporters consider EES and ETIAS crucial to identifying potential terrorists and other security threats. However, critics argue the systems create unnecessary hassles for lawful travellers," the experts said.

"By registering detailed personal information on all non-EU visitors, EES and ETIAS provide authorities more data to screen for risks. Yet this comes at the cost of additional document checks that could hinder tourism and business travel," they added. You can find more information on the Entry/Exit System on the EU website.