British Citizens to Face Stricter Border Control When Entering the European Union in 2024

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Published on 18 January, 2024 • Last updated on 18 January, 2024

By Portugal Homes

British Citizens to Face Stricter Border Control When Entering the European Union in 2024

On the 31st of January 2020, the United Kingdom (UK) officialised Brexit, effectively leaving the European Union (EU). Ever since then, British citizens have been considered third-country nationals by the bloc. In the meantime, the EU continues to be a worldwide hotspot, attracting millions of people every year, whether for travel, tourism, or even for second residency and citizenship solutions. In attempts to both regulate the entry of third-country nationals and reinforce internal security, the EU is seeking to enforce “Smart Borders” in the Schengen Zone. This means British Citizens can expect a stricter and tighter border control when entering the EU in 2024 and beyond.

What are “Smart Borders”?

“Smart Borders” is the collective name given to 2 recent EU initiatives: the Entry/Exit System (EES) and the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). Originally drafted back in 2017 and 2018 respectively, these initiatives have been delayed numerous times.

Now, in the second half of 2024, the EU is pushing to enforce the EES, while the ETIAS is planned to enter operation in 2025. It is important to note “Smart Borders” will only be applied to countries within the Schengen Zone, including many of the EU member states such as Portugal, and also Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. It will not affect certain EU countries, such as Ireland, Cyprus, Romania, and Bulgaria, which are not part of the Schengen Zone.

Once the “Smart Borders” are enforced, it will particularly affect British holidaymakers seeking to catch the dreamy summer sunshine in the Algarve and other regions of Portugal and Southern Europe.

What is the Entry/Exit System?

The Entry/Exit System (EES) is an upcoming border control measure, which will automatically register travellers from third-countries every time they enter or exit Portugal or any other Schengen state. This will apply to tourists who both hold a short-stay visa or are exempt from obtaining a Schengen visa altogether, e.g.: UK nationals.

This new system will automatically record the traveller’s information, including biometric data, dates and places of entry and exit, and any refusals of entry. The EES will effectively replace the process of manual stamps, and thus become a reliable source of information on border crossings, and detection of overstays.

With the EES, the objective is to bolster European security, prevent irregular migration movements and identify document fraud situations.

What is the European Travel Information Authorisation System?

The European Travel Information Authorisation System (ETIAS) is the other “Smart Borders” policy set to be implemented in the near future. Once put into effect, this system will require third-country nationals to register beforehand and obtain an official travel authorisation document to enter Portugal and other Schengen states. This will also apply to short-stay visa holders and nationals from countries exempt from obtaining a Schengen visa. 

Travellers who visit the United States will already be acquainted with this, as the country has its own similar system: ESTA, the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation. 

Registry in the ETIAS will have to be completed online before any travelling to Europe takes place and will incur a cost of 7 euros. Upon issuance, the authorisation will be valid for 3 years or until the passport expires. If the passport has reached the end of its validity, a new ETIAS authorisation will have to be obtained.

It is important to note that, despite authorising the holder to travel to the EU, it may not guarantee entry into Portugal or other Schengen States, as each country retains the right to refuse the entry of third-country nationals. Mirroring the EES, the intent behind ETIAS is the prevention of potential security risks and irregular migration movements.

What are the consequences for British Citizens?

In the lens of the EU, the United Kingdom is now a third-country. This means the “Smart Borders” policies will directly affect British Citizens seeking to enter any country part of the Schengen Zone, including Portugal, France, Spain, Greece, and Italy. 

While the intent is to streamline the process of entering the Schengen Zone, these new policies have already suffered numerous delays, a clear sign that things are not boding well. Set to be originally implemented in 2022, the policies were postponed until May of 2023, and then to the end of 2023. These delays have occurred due to the necessity of installing the proper equipment at all the Schengen’s land, maritime, and air borders, and the preparation and training of staff on how to handle and manage these new systems. Now, though, the EES is looking to be in effect in 2024, and the ETIAS in 2025. 

If these delays are any indication to go by, further complications are already anticipated, especially at border crossings with longer waiting times. UK nationals can experience a longer, tighter, and stricter control process across all borders, whether by ferry or car through the Port of Dover, or the Channel Tunnel, by train through the Eurostar Railway or by air by flying to airports in the Schengen Zone.

Is there a solution for British Citizens?

Yes! The “Smart Borders” policies will not affect legal residents and citizens of EU countries in the Schengen Zone, and this is the key solution for British citizens. Despite no longer being a part of the EU, UK nationals can still enjoy visa-free travel to the Schengen Zone for 90 days out of 180. In becoming Residents of an EU country, they can still enjoy the freedom of travel, following the 90/180 rule without any concern for “Smart Borders”. In becoming Citizens of an EU country, all worries about border control disappear altogether.  

The Portugal D2 Visa, a Residency by Investment programme, currently holds the best path toward EU Citizenship, which is achievable in only 5 years.  

Geared towards the operation of a business in the country, this programme is the fastest and most efficient motorway to EU Citizenship, starting with Residency in 3 months and EU Citizenship in 5 years.  

Portugal Homes has curated exclusive D2 Visa-oriented packages, while keeping in mind the needs of third-country nationals and their families, especially from the United Kingdom. Contact us today to find more details about these exciting new opportunities and guarantee your foothold in the EU!



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