Passport exit checks: What you need to know

Anyone leaving the UK will now have their passports verified

Heather Saul
Wednesday 08 April 2015 10:40
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Passport checks on people leaving Britain are coming into force. People arriving in the port of Dover will have their passports scanned and exit checks will be made on cross-Channel and Channel Tunnel travellers.

Exit checks were dropped in 1998 but were re-introduced as part of a new system in the Immigration Act 2014.

Why are checks being introduced?

The Government says it wants to gain a better understanding of who is leaving the UK so it can assess “who is staying in the country when they have no right to be here".

It claims the checks will also assist police in tracking the movements of criminals, wanted people and terrorists.

Who will it affect?

Anyone using cross-Channel and Channel Tunnel routes, such as ferry passengers, Eurostar passengers and Eurotunnel Le Shuttle vehicle drivers.

The checks won’t make a noticeable difference to plane passengers. Instead, airlines themselves provide advance passenger information from an individual's travel documents.

Will there be bigger queues?

The exit checks are being introduced gradually to minimise the disruption caused to travellers (in theory). Only 25 per cent of passengers will be fully checked in April. This will increase to 50 per cent after one month and 100 per cent by the middle of June.

A P&O Ferries spokesman at Dover said the Government chose a quiet day to introduce the verification system. He said: “We are hoping that there will be a fairly seamless transition to the new system."

However, Channel Tunnel company Eurotunnel has warned of border travel "coming to a standstill" in future years unless new smarter technology is implemented to support the verification process.

Is anyone excluded from the checks?

Coaches of British or European children aged 16 or younger will be exempt from the checks.

Additional reporting by PA

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