How to avoid airport delays if your passport is not stamped by the border guards

British passport holders have complained about long lines to get in and out of their favorite holiday destinations to comply with post-Brexit travel rules. Since the UK left the EU at the end of 2020, British citizens visiting the EU and the Schengen zone that covers most of the EU (but not Ireland) face restrictions on the number of days they can stay in the bloc.

UK citizens can visit Schengen countries, including countries such as Spain, France and Portugal, for a maximum of three months out of six without having to apply for a visa. These restrictions mean they can only spend 90 out of 180 at popular vacation spots.

Passports must be stamped when entering and leaving Schengen countries until the introduction of the bloc’s automated entry system, which is due to take effect last month but is facing delays.

A passport stamp should prevent travelers from being delayed by officials when trying to leave. If there is no entry record, a person can be charged with excessive stay and face possible penalties.

Passports must always be stamped

Many of the horrible queues faced by tourists were caused by regulations requiring UK citizens to have their travel documents stamped by border guards and the police. Popular destinations like Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece, Malta and Cyprus are all in the Schengen area.

An entry stamp will be displayed when a passenger arrives in the Schengen area, while the exit stamp will confirm the departure date. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “Border guards will use passport stamps to verify that you are meeting the 90-day visa-free limit for short stays in the Schengen area. If the relevant entry or exit stamps do not are in your passport, border guards will assume you have exceeded your visa waiver threshold.”

Anyone found overstaying could be fined and face stricter border controls the next time they try to enter the Schengen area. They may even be banned from entering, although this punishment is usually only for those who go over the limit.

What to do if the passport is not stamped

If a traveler is suspected of staying longer and there is no evidence of a passport stamp, there are ways to prove that the rule has not been broken. It is important to keep a digital record of all travel documents such as boarding passes, tickets and even the dreaded passenger tracking forms such as a record of time spent in the Schengen area.

The UK Foreign Office added: “You can show evidence of when and where you entered or left the Schengen area and ask border guards to add that date and location to your passport. Examples of acceptable evidence include ID cards boarding and tickets”.

And electronic gates?

There are e-gates at three Portuguese airports that UK passport holders can use. They are separate from EU electronic gates used by EU passport holders. These are available at Lisbon, Faro or Funchal (Madeira) airports.

These will digitally record when a passenger has entered and left the country and there are calls for a similar system to be installed at busy airports in other parts of the Schengen area. It is still possible to request a manual stamp as extra insurance.

UK tourists are prepared to queue at airports to get a bargain abroad
UK tourists will soon need an EU visa

The UK Foreign Office has advised: “On arrival or departure, make sure you are eligible to use the electronic gates and that you are in the right queue. When using an electronic gate, your entry/exit is recorded in the computer system.

“A border officer can also stamp your passport after you go through the electronic gate; this is for airport operational reasons. Visitor.”

Introduction of the automated entry system

The new EU Automated System (EES) was supposed to be fully functional in May, but is not yet fully operational. Once it is up and running, it will record entry and exit data and the denial of entry data to any non-EU citizen – which means that passport stamping will eventually not be necessary.

The European Commission’s Migration and Home Affairs notes: “The EES will replace the current manual stamping system for passports, which is time-consuming, does not provide reliable data on border crossings and does not allow for the systematic detection of overstayed persons ( travelers who have exceeded the maximum duration of their authorized stay).”

By the end of this year, UK citizens will also need an online travel authorization to travel to Schengen countries, known as the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). These will cost €7 and will be valid initially for three years, or until the traveler’s passport expires, whichever comes first.

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