Non-UK Travelers Now Required to Register their Fingerprints Before Entering and Exiting UK Borders

By Thea Felicity

May 28, 2024 12:00 PM EDT

Migrants Resume Channel Crossings In 2024
DOVER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 17: Migrants are brought ashore after being picked up in the English Channel by a Border Force vessel on January 17, 2024 in Dover, England. The first boats of 2024 carrying migrants across the English Channel from France began arriving in the South of England on 13 January. Just a day later five migrants drowned off the coast of France attempting to cross. This week, the UK parliament is debating the government's plans to send migrants who arrive by small boats to Rwanda.
(Photo : Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Major Channel crossing points in the UK are gearing up for a major change in its border procedures. Scheduled to begin this October, the implementation of a new automated European Union (EU) border IT system, known as the Entry-Exit System (EES), is set to usher in a new era of travel protocols, per BBC.

Under the EES, non-EU nationals, including British citizens, must register their biometric information the first time they cross the border. Major investments are being made in upgrading equipment and processing areas at key locations such as Dover's ferry port, Eurostar's London St Pancras terminus, and Eurotunnel's Folkestone site.

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UK Borders Requiring Biometric

Dover will revamp its infrastructure to accommodate the anticipated changes as an essential cross-channel travel. Plans include processing coaches separately from cars and reclaiming dock space to create additional capacity. 

Eurostar is also expanding its facilities at St Pancras station to accommodate new kiosks required for biometric registration. 

While travelers arriving by air will provide their biometric information upon landing at European airports, those using Dover's ferry port, Folkestone, and London St Pancras will undergo the registration process on British soil.

Concerns have been raised about potential bottlenecks resulting from the in-person registration requirement. Coach companies, such as Roselyn Coaches, are expressing worries about the impact on their operations, fearing delays could disrupt schedules and increase costs. This is similar to a case reported by VCPost, where UK airports experienced chaos due to e-gates crashing down.

While the EU is developing an app to facilitate EES registration, it may not be available at the system's launch. However, a six-month transition period is expected to provide flexibility in managing potential queue issues. 

The UK government reassures that it collaborates closely with EU member states and industry stakeholders to mitigate any adverse impacts on cross-border travel.

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