Key step completed for France-UK travel and new EU border controls

Key step completed for France-UK travel and new EU border controls

Total of 224 ‘kiosks’ being installed at UK and French tunnel borders to speed up data collection ahead of the launch of the EES system

Channel Tunnel operators Getlink hope their new systems will keep traffic flowing smoothly

Channel Tunnel operator Getlink says it is on track for the start of the EU’s Entry/Exit System (EES) this autumn having put up a new drive-through ‘pre-registration building’ on the French side. The building is now being fitted with dozens of ‘data kiosks’.

The first kiosks, which will collect passport data, fingerprints and facial images, are now in place, the firm reports, with the rest to be installed by early May.

On the UK side, at Folkestone, adaptations of the terminal are due to continue until the summer, with kiosks being installed there in July.

The new kiosks at Coquelles, just outside Calais, will be used by non-EU citizen drivers using the LeShuttle service to travel to the UK. In total, 224 are to be installed on the two sides.

Getlink recently told a British MPs’ enquiry it was investing more than €80 million in works in hopes of maintaining a “seamless” movement of goods and passengers. It said, however, that the greatest risks of delays were at the UK side as Dover lacked space for kiosks.

Read more: Alarm grows over new digital checks for UK/France borders from autumn 

The firm states it is now confident that it will “continue to deliver the most competitive crossing time”, having carried out detailed analyses of traffic flows under the new systems, using AI.

EES, adopted by the EU in 2017, aims at better controlling the entry and exit of non-EU visitors to the Schengen area and respect of the 90/180-days rule.

It is due to launch this autumn with French airports reporting that they have been told to be ready by November. Passengers entry and exit dates and passport information will be entered into a database as well as their facial image and fingerprints.

It is planned that it will remove the need for passport stamps.

British visitors (not residents in the EU), will be concerned along with other non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals, as no special arrangements were agreed in the Brexit negotiations.

French firm is supplying the kiosks

The kiosks at Coquelles are being supplied by a French company, IN Groupe, and have been specifically designed for car passengers.

The new 7,000 square metre pre-registration area has a drive-through zone equipped with CCTV and covered by a roof to protect passengers and equipment from bad weather. It is designed to take up to 60 cars at once.

Each vehicle bay will be equipped with two kiosks to take facial images and fingerprints, as will be required for non-EU nationals entering or leaving the EU’s Schengen area.

Kiosks are being installed at airports and ports, an airport kiosk is shown above

A new building has also been constructed for the French police aux frontières to give them a panoramic view of the pre-registration zone and parking bays. 

Several other ports and larger airports are also installing kiosks and other equipment for travellers to use to speed up the collection of data. Nice Airport reports that its kiosks are now in place.

Read more: Prepare for border changes to start November 6, French airports told

The port of Calais also reports that it is installing its equipment and expects to be ready on time.

However, the UAF French airports body says the Paris airports will struggle to have kiosks in place, due to the Olympics, and has called for the start to be put off until next year.

Many UK bodies in the travel and transport sectors have also expressed concerns about the potential for increased delays, especially at the ‘juxtaposed controls’ in Dover, Folkestone and St Pancras, where French border checks are carried out on UK soil.

Several said they are hoping that a new app being developed by the EU to allow for some data to be collected before passengers arrive at the border, will help. However, France has yet to say that it will sign up to use this and the UK’s Abta travel agency federation said recently that it feared it would not.

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