British tourists could see major passport change for EU holidays

British tourists could be allowed to use the e-gates at EU airports in future after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reportedly raised the issue with the bloc, according to Bloomberg News. Currently, Britons have to have their passport stamped on entry and exit to the EU.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said: “We are working closely with the European Commission and member states to understand the impacts of the introduction of the entry-exit system for British citizens, and our priority is always to minimise unnecessary delays for British passengers.”

Britons have faced longer queues at airports in some popular destinations, including several Spanish hotspots.

If the deal passes, queues at airports would likely be eased but this wouldn’t be the case for travellers at Dover or Folkestone.

French police still need to physically check stamps on passports to ensure Britons are complying with post-Brexit rules.

Under current rules, Britons can travel to the EU for a maximum period of 90 out of every 180 days without a visa.

British tourists need to have their passports stamped when they enter and leave the bloc to prove how long they have been there.

If they overstay the 90 day period, they could be detained, face a fine or be blocked from re-entering the EU.

The need to stamp passports has increased queues for Britons who used to be able to use e-gates.

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In 2024, the EU is due to introduce a new system, which would see Britons and other non-EU tourists share their biometric data to receive a visa waiver.

However, Bloomberg reported that the Government is worried this won’t end delays and would like Britons to have full access to the e-gates.

The ETIAS system will see Britons pay for authorisation once every three years in an online application.

According to officials, the system is likely to take under half an hour in the majority of cases.

This system could help to ease queues in busy areas such as Dover, as it would remove the need for passport stamping.

The British Government is also planning to introduce its own system, the Electronic Travel Authorisation.

Some British citizens have called for an end to the 90 day system, particularly those who like to spend part of the year abroad.

Expats, known as swallows, used to spend around five months in Spain during the winter before returning to the UK for the rest of the year.

Current EU travel rules

  • British travellers can spend up to 90 days out of every 180 in the Schengen Area, which includes Spain, France and Portugal
  • Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus are in the EU but not the Schengen Area. Tourists can spend a separate 90 out of every 180 days in these countries.
  • Passports must be valid for at least three months after the tourist’s intended exit date from the EU
  • Passports must be stamped on entry and exit to the EU

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