UK drivers warned of 'noticeable changes' from this autumn

Photo shows cars queuing at Dover
-Credit: (Image: PA Wire/PA Images)

Drivers in the UK have been warned ahead of 'noticeable changes' to the rules when driving to Europe. A major change to EU travel rules will affect tourists flying to the likes of Spain, Greece and France on holiday and will also have repercussions for motorists.

The new Entry/Exit System (EES) is expected to be brought in as early as October 2024 and will impact anyone from non-EU countries like Britain who want to visit countries inside the Schengen Area, which includes most EU countries.

The digitised system will replace the process of manually stamping passports at the border. Instead, holidaymakers will need to provide their biometric data such as fingerprints and go through facial recognition, as well as providing personal information such as their name, nationality, date of birth, passport information and the entry/exit dates for their visit.

Read more: Travel warning issued to UK tourists flying from Manchester Airport

The EES then tracks the duration of each person's stay and flags any overstayers or unauthorised visits to other countries. Concerns have been raised over the time it will take for UK tourists to cross the border when the scheme is rolled out later this year.

In January, MPs were warned that Brits could be delayed by up to 14 hours at the Port of Dover, though the Parliament's European Scrutiny Committee stated that this was 'a reasonable worst case scenario'.

The RAC has also told drivers planning to travel to Europe by car to expect 'noticeable changes' when visiting the continent. The new system will be in operation at the Port of Dover for ferries travelling across the English Channel and at Eurostar and Eurotunnel terminals.

Some travel companies have raised questions about the roll-out, including over space limitations at Dover when around 80% of drivers will have to be processed under EES plans. The RAC said it was 'concerning' that the European Commission hadn't released all of the details of how the system will work, though it has said it will be introduced gradually.

RAC Europe spokesperson Rod Dennis said: "Although it remains to be seen what impact the changes will have when it comes to the time it takes drivers to get through border controls and into the Schengen zone, it's well worth anyone planning a trip over the Channel from the autumn being aware of what will be expected of them.

"We'll aim to provide as much accurate information as we can to assist travellers as soon as it becomes available. In the first instance, we’d advise allowing much more time than usual for journeys, especially during peak holiday travel periods."