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Monday, July 15, 2024

EU to Eliminate Passport Stamps at Airports, Introduces Biometric Screening for Nigerians and Other Travelers

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The European Union (EU) airports are getting ready for a new system called the European Entry-Exit System (EES). This system will start in October 2024 for people who are not from the EU. With this new system, airports will stop stamping passports.

In this new system, airports will also take biometric data, like fingerprints and facial photos, from people coming from countries outside the EU.

The EES aims to make border security stronger and make crossing borders faster. 

More insights 

The EES, starting in October 2024, will demand biometric information from visitors from developing countries entering the Schengen Area. This is to improve border security and make border crossings smoother.  

Already, between 2020 and 2024, the US gave nearly 7.1 million visas to visitors for tourism or business. Many of these visitors did not have to go through in-person interviews or biometric checks.

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says it’s not sure how many people skipped these biometric checks, according to Visaguide. 

Biometric Update mentions that a program allowing some visa holders to skip fingerprinting ended in December. But many port heads did not know about this change for four years. 

These findings come as the DHS Inspector General also pointed out issues in the department’s screening and verification processes, including for asylum seekers with long-pending applications. 

So, the EES will record travelers from non-EU countries every time they enter or leave the Schengen zone. It will collect biometric data like fingerprints and face photos at both arrival and departure. 

“It will also note if someone is not allowed to enter. EES will replace the current way of stamping passports, which takes time and doesn’t provide reliable data on border crossings or help spot people who stay longer than allowed.” 

“EES will help stop illegal migration and protect the security of European citizens.”  

 “The new system will make it easier for honest travelers from other countries and will also help find those who stay too long or use fake documents,” the EU says on its website. 

Despite the planned start in October, some EU airports, especially smaller ones, might not be ready for the new system. Many airports across Europe aren’t prepared for the upcoming biometric travel registration, called the Entry-Exit System (EES), according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). 

Rafael Schvartzman, IATA’s regional head for Europe, raised concerns that some airports still have unresolved issues that need urgent action. 

What to expect 

Travelers from countries like Nigeria and others should get ready for longer lines, especially at smaller airports not fully equipped for EES yet.

They should expect to have their fingerprints and face photos taken when they arrive and leave. 

  • A mobile app for EES registration is being developed, but we don’t know when it will be available or what it will do exactly.
  • While the app might speed things up in the future, travelers shouldn’t count on it for now. 
  • As we get closer to October, both travelers and airport staff need to get used to these big changes.
  • The success of the EES is vital for making travel smooth and secure for all visitors entering the Schengen Area. 
  • Travelers should stay updated on the latest EES news and check with their airports about what to do. 
  • Since things can change, there might be delays or adjustments in the EES rollout timeline. 
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