The European Union has officially announced a revised schedule for the post-Brexit Entry/Exit System (EES). Initially planned for a 2022 launch, the EES faced several setbacks. First rescheduled to May 2023, it was subsequently pushed back to the end of that year.
Now, EU officials have confirmed that certain components of the system will become operational in late 2024. The expectations of the new system vary greatly, with some fearing chaos at launch, while others are hopeful that these delays offer ample time for countries to prepare.
What Is the EES?
The EES aims to introduce new border controls for non-EU travelers entering the Schengen Area. The Entry-Exit System will be an automated registration system for UK and other non-EU travelers exempt from EU visa requirements.
Travelers will need to scan their passports or travel documents at self-service kiosks when crossing an EU external border, excluding legal residents and long-stay visa holders.
The system will record the traveler’s name, biometric data, entry and exit details, and retain facial scans and fingerprint data for three years after each trip. It will apply to all EU member states except Cyprus and Ireland, and four non-EU countries in the Schengen Area: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
The EES aims to enhance border security and identify overstays in the Schengen Area (limited to 90 days within a 180-day period).
How Has the Travel Industry Responded to the Delays?
There have been some delays in implementing the EES are attributed to challenges with contractors meeting deadlines. However, the airline industry has supported the delays, as they provide more time for necessary preparations.
A joint statement from the European region of Airports Council International (ACI), Airlines for Europe (A4E), the European Regions Airline Association (ERA), and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) highlights the need for wider automation adoption at national border crossing points, funding from member states to ensure adequate trained staff and resources, and sufficient resources for airlines and airports. They also emphasize the importance of a public communications campaign to inform travelers of the upcoming changes.
Is ETIAS still on schedule?
The EES is closely linked to the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), requiring non-EU citizens exempt from EU visa requirements to obtain travel authorization for short-term visits to the Schengen Area. Originally planned for November 2023, EU officials have now endorsed a revised timeline for ETIAS, setting it to become operational in the first half of 2025.
Travelers can apply for ETIAS online at a cost of €7, and the authorization will be electronically linked to their passport, valid for three years.
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