EU visitors will soon be subject to facial scans and fingerprinting under new initiative
Anyone traveling to Europe will soon have to deal with fingerprinting and facial scans, under the European Union’s (EU) two new border management initiatives: The European Entry/Exit Systems (EES) and the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS).
EES and ETIAS are part of the large-scale IT systems that the EU has been developing for “collecting, processing and sharing information relevant to external border management.” (Related: TSA’s use of FACIAL RECOGNITION tech in US airports rouses privacy concerns.)
Here are the things travelers need to know about the two separate, but interconnected, travel regulations EU intends to launch.
European Entry/Exit System (EES)
EES is an automated IT system that registers visa-free and visa-required travelers entering European borders for a short stay of less than 90 days within any 180-day period.
The EES will apply when entering or leaving 25 EU member states – Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. Two countries, Ireland and the Republic of Cyprus, are excluded from the system.
The system will also be implemented when entering or leaving four non-EU countries – Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland – that are part of the border-free Schengen area, according to the European Commission.
Travelers from non-EU countries, including the U.K., will need to scan their current passports and other valid travel documents at an automated self-service kiosk prior to crossing external borders into or out of the EU.
Once in operation, EES replaces the stamping of passports; instead, travelers’ facial images and fingerprints will be collected. Entry/exit registration also collects travel data, such as the date/s and place/s where the traveler entered and exited the territory of the European countries visited.
Europe’s EES was originally scheduled to be implemented in 2022 but after facing multiple setbacks, its date of effectivity was pushed back further until the end of 2023. The European Commission (EC) did not confirm news that some media outlets are reporting that ESS and ETIAS won’t take effect until 2025, or later.
“The [EC] does not comment on speculations,” said Anitta Hipper, the EC’s spokeswoman for home affairs. Nevertheless, she stressed that the commission “remains committed to making ESS and ETIAS operational as soon as possible.”
European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS)
Meanwhile, the ETIAS is a new travel measure that will require nationals of any of the visa-exempt countries to obtain “travel authorization” to Europe for short-term stays.
Visa-exempt countries or territories include Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, El Salvador, Georgia, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Kiribati, Macao, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, North Macedonia, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Taiwan, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Ukraine, U.A.E., the U.K., the U.S., Uruguay and Venezuela.
ETIAS is not required for foreigners who have legal and valid residence cards or permits, valid visas for longer-term stay (e.g., study or work visas) or an official document issued by any European country that authorizes them to stay. While the ETIAS application process does not require biometrics, travelers will still need to submit their passport numbers.
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