More delays coming due to EU biometric border checks

The European Union is introducing more checks on people at their external borders. These EU biometric border checks will mimic those required in some airports, with every person required to scan their faces and fingerprints before being allowed to enter or exit.

The Entry-Exit System (EXS) will be an automated system for tracking third-country (non-EU) citizens every time they cross an external EU border. 

Why are EU biometric border checks being introduced?

Currently, border agents need to manually process everyone that comes through the border. As you will have experienced, you need to present your travel document to an agent, who will then check and stamp your passport. This method requires a lot of manual entry, and is less efficient at sharing data throughout the EU.

The new EU biometric border checks will allow a reduction in manpower whilst also increasing security. By taking fingerprints and facial recognition snapshots, as well as recording the data of travel documents and dates, it will be more difficult for a person to enter using fraudulent documents.

Additionally, the automation will record your entry and exit dates automatically, reducing the risk of clerical error that can result in you being held by customs if they have not stamped you in/out of the EU.

Overall, the IT system is designed to keep a better record of data, reduce the required manpower, and increase security.

Why does this affect the UK?


The port of Dover has dual border controls, meaning that those exiting need to be processed by French customs before departing. Therefore, the additional EU biometric border checks need to be installed at the port.

Currently, Dover is not prepared to facilitate the additional requirements, and is also preparing for the next phase of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) checks that will be coming in for foodstuffs from July.

The addition of both of these additional checks is due to increase the processing time of both Ro/Ro and pedestrian traffic, resulting in longer waiting times for you or your drivers. The CEO of the Port of Dover, Doug Bannister, has called for the UK Government to work out a solution with the EU ASAP, including the consideration of delaying the SPS checks as this is within the UK’s control.

What can you do to reduce the impact of EU biometric border checks?


The border checks are not within the control of the UK, and cannot be circumnavigated if you are travelling to the EU after September.

However, you can ensure that you have as smooth a process at the border as possible by getting your documents in order, and ensuring that your Ro/Ro personal allowance has not been exceeded so that you do not need to pay duty and VAT. We would also recommend allowing more time for passing through the Dover border, especially during September and October whilst the EU biometric border checks are still being adapted to in the port.

If you need help with customs clearance, please contact one of our agents for assistance.

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