Cross-Channel Britons to face fingerprint test

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The Independent Online

Britons will be liable to a fingerprint test when they travel to the continent from 2007, according to European Commission plans unveiled yesterday.

Britons will be liable to a fingerprint test when they travel to the continent from 2007, according to European Commission plans unveiled yesterday.

Because the UK and Ireland are outside the Schengen free travel zone, which essentially covers continental Europe, a finger scan may be used to check information on new biometric passports. The plan will not apply to those in the European free-travel zone who do not pass an external border, though similar checks will be made on those from some third countries holding visas.

The UK says it is relaxed about the new restrictions and acknowledges that it is part of the price it pays for being outside the Schengen zone. The UK's participation in a new EU border agency has been restricted because of its decision to stand outside the central elements of the free travel area.

The UK could apply similar checks to citizens of other EU countries.

The new system is part of a plan to crack down on illegal immigration. By 2007 visas will include biometric data such as a digitised photograph and fingerprints.

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