New fingerprint system at French border means queue times could double in length

And your biometric data will need to be re-recorded every three years

Liv Kelly
Written by
Liv Kelly
Contributing Writer
Queues at Dover
Photograph: Shutterstock

Bad news if you’re planning on travelling through France next year. Thanks to the new entry-exit system (EES) being implemented by the EU, border checks are set to become a lot more arduous. 

The EES means millions of people will have to have their photos taken and their fingerprints recorded and stored on the EU’s database. The process itself is designed to make border checks easier, but the data needs to be collected for every non-EU traveller – and will need updating every three years. 

The new system is supposed to automatically detect overstayers and provide more reliable data on border crossings, alleviating the need for manual passport stamping. However, each person will still need to have their passport checked by a border official anyway to make sure all the info stored is for the right person. 

France has apparently ordered 540 ‘data kiosks’ and 250 tablets for ferry passengers in advance of the checks launching. The French public finance watchdog, the Cour des Comptes, has released a report which estimates that queues at the UK-France border will at least double when the EES is launched in 2024. 

It could potentially spell bad news for the environment, as the report says that ‘Even though the average check time has increased since Brexit for Eurostar, doubling or even tripling waiting time could drive some travellers to opt for a plane.’

According to some tests which have been conducted, the process could add two minutes to the time it takes to pass through border checks. 

Chief executive of travel consultancy the PC Agency, Paul Charles, said ‘Getting into Europe needs to be more seamless, not more cumbersome. The processing of passengers … will have to be much faster otherwise peak periods will become unbearable for those stuck in ever-longer queues.’

The scheme isn’t coming into play just yet, and it's already been delayed a couple of times. It’s now thought that the EU is waiting until after the Paris Olympics 2024 before launching the scheme. 

It looks like its eventual implementation is inevitable though, so prepare yourself for some pretty long queues. 

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