New EU border fingerprint checks could ruin British summer getaway next year, Dover boss warns
New EU border fingerprint checks could ruin British families’ summer getaway next year – with Dover especially-badly hit, the port’s boss has warned
- EU biometric system will be in place for travellers entering the bloc from May
- Each passenger will have to take a facial image and provide fingerprints
- Dover chiefs warn it will cause ‘significant and continued disruption’
New EU border fingerprint checks could wreak havoc on British families trying to get away for next year’s summer holidays, the Port of Dover has warned.
The new system of biometric checks could cause ‘significant and continued disruption for a very long time’ at the port, its chief executive Doug Bannister said.
The dire warnings come after a summer of travel mayhem due to a shortage of French border workers, with some failing to even turn up to work.
New EU border fingerprint checks could wreak havoc on British families trying to get away for next year’s summer holidays, the Port of Dover has warned. Pictured: cars queue at the port in July
Britons travelling to the bloc will now have to apply for a three-year travel authorisation document under the Entry-Exit System (EES).
But each time they try to cross into the continent, travellers will have to show a facial image and provide four fingerprints.
Personal data including first name, surname, date of birth, nationality, sex, travel document and the three-letter country code must all be required, with only children under 12 exempt.
The new rules apply for ports, airports and other border checkpoints for travellers entering from outside the EU, but Dover and the Eurostar are likely to see the biggest queues.
Dover chiefs say passengers without an EU passport could take as long as 10 minutes per vehicle to check, compared to the current 90-second average it takes to wave cars through.
Each time they try to cross into the continent, travellers will have to show a facial image and provide four fingerprints (file image)
Logistics UK warned the new system could lead to 19-mile tailbacks in Kent and scenes of gridlock far worse than those experienced this year.
The new system is effective from May after it was delayed for a year.
Mr Bannister told MPs on the transport select committee yesterday that no tests or trials have been carried out for the new rules.
He said: ‘It’s going to have a higher impact on families wishing to go abroad next summer.
‘We’ve heard that there could be some technology that is sort of an iPad with handholds to register the fingerprints. But we haven’t trialled it. How do you pass that around a car? What happens if you’ve got a child asleep in the backseat?
The dire warnings come after a summer of travel mayhem due to a shortage of French border workers, with some failing to even turn up to work
‘What if it’s a dark stormy night and the lighting is inappropriate? We haven’t tested all of that.’
He added: ‘We need to see what the technology is going to be, we need a sufficient amount of time to trial, test and train to use that technology before implementation.’
Trials are set to begin this month in Calais and Mr Bannister has been invited to attend but the port has not been given any other details of the scheme.
Asked at the committee what passengers will have to do, he said: ‘I know activity is ongoing but, as I sit in front of the panel today, we don’t have that answer.’
The system is similar to the one used in the US where tourists must provide personal information that is checked against databased before granting approval.
Mr Bannister said: ‘If [new checks] come in in the worst possible way we fear they will, it is going to have significant and continued disruption for a very long time.’
Committee chairman Huw Merriman said it was ‘bizarre and unacceptable’ that tests or trials have not taken place.