British travellers will be required to scan their fingerprints and have their image captured when entering the European Union next autumn, according to a report by The Times.

The new rules are part of the forthcoming entry/exit system (EES), which applies to non-EU passport holders and is set to launch on 6 October, 2024, having been postponed from the initial date of May 2023.

The EES is described by the European Union as “an automated IT system for registering travellers from third-countries, both short-stay visa holders and visa exempt travellers, each time they cross an EU external border” and will replace the manual stamping of passports. Aside from biometrics, the system will also register the person’s name, type of the travel document, and the date and place of entry and exit.

According to The Times, the finger and picture biometrics will be captured on a passenger’s first entry to the EU from 6 October and verified for each visit thereafter. Getlink, the operator of the Channel Tunnel, is also building new £67 million facilities in Kent to process non-EU passport holders, which will be able to process 500 cars every hour according to the article.

The article adds that passengers will have to leave their cars and use new computer terminals to register their biometrics before proceeding to French border control. With regards to air travel, the article says that British passengers will have their biometrics registered on arrival in the EU.

The new rules are expected to provoke queues and delays at locations such as the Channel Tunnel, Port of Dover and Eurostar’s terminal at London St Pancras.

The EES will also be followed by a new visa-waiver scheme – the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) – which is expected to launch in mid-2025, after several delays. The system is designed for travellers from ‘third countries’ wanting to enter Europe’s Schengen Area. For more information, see:

What is the ETIAS?

Meanwhile, foreign nationals who currently do not need a visa to travel to the UK will have to apply for the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) prior to departure, with a phased roll-out over the next few years.

Smart Traveller: Our guide to the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA)