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European Entry/Exit System (EES)

in Andalucia, Spain
By Nick Nutter | 21 Nov 2021

The European Entry/Exit System (EES) will start in May 2022.

The EES will be an automated IT system for registering travellers from third-countries, both short-stay visa holders and visa exempt travellers, each time they cross an EU external border. The system will register the person's name, type of the travel document, biometric data (fingerprints and captured facial images) and the date and place of entry and exit, in full respect of fundamental rights and data protection.

It will also record refusals of entry. EES will replace the current system of manual stamping of passports, which is time consuming, does not provide reliable data on border crossings and does not allow a systematic detection of over-stayers (travellers who have exceeded the maximum duration of their authorised stay).

EES will contribute to prevent irregular migration and help protect the security of European citizens. The new system will also help bona fide third-country nationals to travel more easily while also identifying more efficiently over-stayers as well as cases of document and identity fraud. In addition to this, the system will enable to make a wider use of automated border control checks and self-service systems, which are quicker and more comfortable for the traveller.

The European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice (eu-LISA) is responsible for developing and managing the system. The EES is expected to be operational during May 2022.

How does the EES differ from the ETIAS for Europe?

The EES is a program that will record the entrance and exit of visitors to Europe which will be 100% digital and will replace the current passport stamping process. This, in turn, will facilitate border crossing control for border guards and quicken entry for non-EU nationals who will be able to access self-service kiosks like those available currently for EU citizens.

The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) visa waiver for Europe is a travel authorization for non-EU citizens who wish to visit Europe. It is currently still in development stage and is scheduled to be fully implemented in late 2022.

ETIAS will allow Europe to maintain a more efficient control of who travels to the EU and requests entry. It is a visa waiver system for Europe which will permit eligible citizens to obtain the appropriate European travel by filling out a simple online form.

Another of the differences between the EES and ETIAS for Europe is the information collected through each process.

When applying for an ETIAS prior to visiting Europe, the traveller is required to complete an online ETIAS application form that requests personal data, contact details, passport information and asks some basic security questions.

On the other hand, the EES records biometric data including the facial image and fingerprints, of each traveller upon arrival and exit from the European Union.

Finally, since it is a pre-travel requirement, the ETIAS will allow the EU to screen travellers before they arrive in Europe, against various security databases including the ETIAS Watchlist, Europol and Interpol, thus contributing to further the fight against terrorism in the EU.

In contrast, the EES will simply record information once the third-country national is entering or exiting the European zone.

Will UK nationals be subject to the EES?

In January and February 2020, the government of the United Kingdom ruled out a future alignment to the rules of the internal market, effectively ruling out EEA membership after the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020. This effectively means that the UK is not an EES country. UK nationals travelling from the UK into the European Union will have to go through the EES screening.

When the ETIAS system is implemented at the end of 2022, UK passport holders, wherever they reside, will need to register before travelling to any of the ETIAS countries.

Which countries are in the UK?

The United Kingdom (UK) is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Southern Ireland (the Republic of Ireland), is not part of the UK and is still a member of the EU.

For a EES fact sheet click here

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Submitted by Paul Smith on 26 Nov 2021
I have a UK passport and a TIE residencia. What will happen under the new rules when I leave Spain for holidays and when I return back to Spain.

Reply by Nick Nutter:
You are a UK passport holder so it depends where you go. In the Schengen area (apart from Spain obviously) the 90 day rule applies, other countries have different limits for visitors.