7 reader questions on new France/UK border checks answered

Queries include travel within the EU, separate queues, spouses, dual nationals and more

Four-way split image of swiss border, french border police, franco-german border and french airport passport checks
Do not expect to see more checks appearing within the Schengen zone
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The Entry/Exit System (EES) will introduce digital checks at the borders of the Schengen area from autumn 2024. While many of the specifics are still unclear, we answer six questions on the rollout raised by readers.

The new checks will record the name, age, facial image, fingerprints, point of entry and exit for non-EU citizens over the age of 12. 

These checks will not concern the holders of residency cards or long-stay visas.

Read more: New UK/France border checks: visas, residency cards and which queues? 

However, before even starting the EES already has a troubled history:

Unsurprisingly, the system’s rollout is the source of a great deal of apprehension among regular travellers and people who anticipate that the complexities of their own situation will be enough to cause the fragile EES to crack.

However, it should be remembered that one of the aims of the EES is to speed up border checks. 

The system’s rollout is likely to be progressive, with reduced obligations to perform the digital checks during peak times for the first six months.

Your questions about the EES:

What will the system mean for people travelling within the EU?

The EES is a Schengen border system, not a national border system: do not expect to see checkpoints appearing between France and Spain, for instance.

Once you have crossed the EES checks at the external Schengen border and border guards have reviewed your documents, you will not be subject to further checks when travelling within the Schengen area.

This includes flights between Schengen area states.

If you enter the Schengen area in Spain, and leave it in Belgium the system will have logged the time you spent in the area.

See which countries will be bringing in the checks here.

Will there be separate queues for people with visas or residency cards? 

This is possible but unlikely.

While no ports or airports have confirmed that this will not happen, it does not appear to be a major concern for them given that the vast majority of passenger traffic will be people on short-term visits.

In larger airports there may be pre-registration booths for non-EU passengers, which should mean that people with visas or residency cards can at least bypass one queue.

Many smaller ports and airports already struggle for space, as does the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras (where French border checks take place on UK soil), making alternative queues difficult to organise.

What about people from Ireland?

Ireland is not in the Schengen zone but it is in the EU, which means that Irish citizens must carry a passport when travelling to the EU. 

However, they will not be concerned by the EES as they have a right to live and work in the EU.

How will the system affect dual nationals or mixed families?

If you have double (or more) nationality and one is of an EU/non-EU country, you have the right to live in the EU and thus you are not subject to the EES checks.

If you are travelling with a child over 12 who has EU citizenship, but you do not, you should go through the EES checks, although the child does not have to.

In such cases, you should inform the border agent of the situation.

Similarly, if you are travelling with a child younger than 12, they are exempt. In such cases, it is likely that the child will be able to stand beside you as you are processed.

However, the EES checks do apply to the non-EU spouse of an EU citizen, unless they have a residency card or visa or dual citizenship of an EU state. Likewise, if one partner has a residency card or visa, it does not mean the other partner is exempt from the EES.

What about crossing into the EU from Switzerland?

Switzerland has been a member of the Schengen area since December 2008. This means that flights into and out of Switzerland will be subject to the EES, however people travelling by road, rail or air within the EU will not be subject to the digital checks.

Which visas will still be subject to the EES?

People coming to the Schengen area on visas de court séjour Schengen (short-stay Schengen visas) will still be subject to the digital checks. 

These visas allow stays of no more than 90 days for people of nationalities that do not have a 'visa waiver' to visit the Schengen area, for example: South Africa, India, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Morocco, Pakistan, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Senegal and Somalia.

Read more: How does EU's 90/180-day rule work when visiting France? 

How long will they keep my personal data?

The EES will store your personal data for several years, restarting the clock with each visit.

  • The records of entries, exits, and refused entry will be kept for three years

  • Personal information will be stored for three years and one day

  • If you do not leave the Schengen area, your data will be kept for five years starting from the date you arrived

Every time you visit you will be required to give your biometric data.