How will the EU’s new Entry-Exit System work?

How will the EU’s new Entry-Exit System work?

A new timeline for the EU’s post-Brexit Entry/Exit System (EES) has been released after countless postponements.


The EU’s post-Brexit Entry-Exit System (EES) was originally supposed to launch in 2022, then was rescheduled for May 2023 before being pushed back even further to the end of last year.

Despite continuous setbacks, it’s finally set to launch this autumn. But a significant chunk of UK adults say they have no idea about how the EES will work.

Luckily for those puzzled about the new system, ABTA – The Travel Association – has laid bare exactly how the EES will look in practice.

Here’s what to expect.

What exactly is the EU Entry/Exit system?

Put simply, the EES is a new electronic system which will replace the physical stamping of passports when you go through passport control on arrival.

All EU member states except Cyprus and Ireland, where passports will still be stamped manually, and all four non-EU Schengen countries – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland – will take part.

All entries and exits to and from the participating European countries will be recorded. In layman’s terms, that means your movements will be registered every time you cross a border in or out of the EU or Schengen area.

When the system goes live, on arriving at a new country, you’ll need to provide your passport as always, alongside having a photo of your face taken and your fingerprints scanned electronically.

Here’s who EES will apply to when it comes into force

People who are already citizens of the EU or the Schengen countries will not be affected and will be able to travel freely throughout the area.

Instead, the EES will apply to people coming from what the EU calls a ‘third country’ – namely those who are not EU citizens or citizens of the Schengen area.

That includes most people travelling from the UK as well as from further afield.

The EES will apply to those travelling for a short stay – visits, holidays or business trips that have a total duration of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.

British passport holders who have EU residency will be exempt from EES.

In the vast majority of cases, the EES checks will take place in Europe when you arrive at your destination airport or port.

If you’re travelling via the Port of Dover or via international train from the UK, then those checks will happen on departure instead, while you’re going through passport control on the UK side.

That’s because there is a dual border – British and French – at both locations, which means you won’t need to do these checks again when you arrive on the other side.

What is the ETIAS, set to come into force in 2025?

The EU is planning to go even further with its travel restrictions come 2025.

The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) will be another new system for travellers within the bloc.


The new travel authorisation system will need to be applied for ahead of a person’t travels to 30 European countries involved in the scheme. Ireland is exempt as it’s part of the Common Travel Area.

The ETIAS is a similar concept to the USA’s existing ESTA and the UK’s ongoing ETA scheme.

It is due to be introduced in mid-2025 but there is no exact date as to when it will come into force.

That means you do not need to have an ETIAS for travel to Europe at the moment and, as the system is not live, the website itself is not live or taking applications, so you cannot yet get an official ETIAS. Any websites claiming to offer this service today are not official and should be avoided.

When ETIAS does become official, visa-exempt travellers from third countries will need to apply for it at a cost of €7. The processing time is expected to be between 30 minutes and 96 hours.


In simple terms, that means if you are travelling to the EU for a short stay and are not a citizen of an EU or Schengen country, then you will need an ETIAS.

Similarly to the terms of the EES, a ‘short stay’ refers to visits, holidays or business trips that have a duration of up to 90 days and are taken within a 180 day period.

If you are travelling on a visa, you won’t need an ETIAS and if you’re a British passport holder but have EU residency you also won’t need one.

What will the rules around the ETIAS be when they go live?

​​ETIAS will cost €7 for most travellers, but will be free for those under the age of 18 and aged 70 and over.

Each application will last for three years and allow holders to travel on multiple trips during this period using the same one.


There are caveats that you should be aware of, though.

If your passport expires during the ETIAS validity period, you will need to apply for a new ETIAS.

It will also not be valid if it expires during your stay. In such cases, you would need to apply for a new ETIAS in advance of your travels, to cover the duration of your stay.

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