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Eurostar warns travellers about major change coming in October

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Big changes are coming for British Eurostar travellers (Picture: Getty Images)

Eurostar has confirmed the massive changes coming into effect later this year that will change how Brits travel out of London.

The international, high-speed rail service offers train journeys to and from London St Pancras and cities in France, The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

Holidaymakers from the UK will have to use electronic kiosks once new post-Brexit rules come into force from October 6. 

The machines must be used by British passengers to register their passport, facial image and fingerprints and four questions regarding their trip. The new regulations come under the EU’s Entry/Exit System (EES).

The European Union plans to introduce the system to record the movements of non-EU visitors. Once the UK voted to leave the EU, the government negotiated for Brits to become third-country nationals, which means we won’t get the same freedom of movement options across EU countries.

The EU defines a third-country as one that simply isn’t part of the EU.

Eurostar offers continental services from London to France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands (Credits: Getty Images)

Currently, passengers just need a valid passport to travel to one of Eurostar’s tempting cities. The good news is that the company says the new border system won’t impact their advice to arrive 90 minutes before your departure time, as the company insisted they would still have a ‘seamless and stress-free journey’, PA reports.

Eurostar will spend €10 million (£8.5 million) to introduce the facilities needed for the new EES border control system. There will be a total of 49 self-service kiosks for customers to provide their biometric data, but staff will be on hand if there are any issues.

Once a passenger has used a kiosk, completed the checking in process and passed through security and UK exit checks, they will need their EES registration to be completed by French border officers who will scan their fingerprints again. 

But once someone is registered, they won’t need to have their fingerprints scanned for subsequent trips within the next three years. You’ll still have to use a kiosk.

What is the new Entry/Exit Scheme?

The Entry/Exit Scheme will change how Britons travel to and from countries in the European Union or Schengen area.

It will come in tandem with us needing to buy a visa waiver to visit EU and Schengen countries. It’s an automated system to register travellers from non-EU countries every time they cross a border into or out of the EU. 

The system will register the person’s name, the type of travelling document they’re using, biometric data (fingerprints and captured facial images), and the date and place of entry and exit. 

Once the data has been captured, it’s expected to remain in the system for three years. After this time has passed, it will be erased from the system.

Travellers won’t need to re-register this data if they travel to multiple Schengen Zone countries within the three-year period.

The EES scheme is different to the European Travel Information and Authorisation Scheme (ETIAS), which will run alongside the former and require British travellers to apply for a visa waiver to visit most EU countries.

The expected fee of the visa waiver is €7 (£6) to visit any country in the Schengen Area.

How will EES effect Dover and the Eurotunnel?

Tens of millions of pounds are being spent on equipment and processing areas ahead of the change at Dover’s ferry port, the London St Pancras station where Eurostar operates, and Eurotunnel’s folkestone site, BBC News reports.

The new EES process will take place on British soil on these sites, however when passengers fly to areas in the EU  they’ll provide biometric data once they land. 

Queuing concerns and delays are a key concern particularly at Dover. The UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron recently told a committee of MPs he was ‘really worried’ about ‘long delays’. 

And the port’s chief executive, Doug Bannister, told the BBC it plans to ‘minimise dwell times, queues and of course congestion out on the road network and throughout the town’.

The current plan is for coaches to go to the Western docks which are away from the main check-in areas. Coach halls will be built in this area along with new kiosks for travellers to register their details before they cross the border after re-boarding their coach. 

A different process will be in place for cars and other vehicles and they’ll have to file into the usual check-in lanes. The hope is for cars to use the Western docks from next summer as well. 

It’s predicted that the time to go through border controls will increase from 45-90 seconds to a couple of minutes or more when someone completes their EES registration.

Eurotunnel, which transports freight and vehicle shuttles through the Channel tunnel, is spending the equivalent of £70,000,000 building processing zones where people will queue in their vehicles to use automatic machines.

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