Third council in biometrics warning

By Mark Conrad | 11 April 2024

A third council has warned it faces potential fallout from new entry checks at UK borders earmarked for October.

Portsmouth City Council, which owns the international port, told The MJ it was consulting with ferry operators to determine whether biometric requirements at EU ports where passengers from the UK disembark could lead to costly delays or excessive road traffic.

A council spokesperson said: ‘We are working closely with Brittany Ferries, which operates out of Portsmouth, to look into whether there could be a delay on vessels leaving France and Spain due to a high number of passengers requiring processing in the European ports.

‘There could be an impact on ships being able to leave Portsmouth if ports are full across the Channel.

'However, we have longer crossings, so that should help minimise any impacts.’

It follows concerns raised by Kent CC and Ashford BC about the EU’s Entry Exit System (EES), which from this autumn will require non-EU first-time visitors to the UK and Schengen Area to register biometric data including facial scans and fingerprints.

Kent’s leader Roger Gough has warned a ‘reasonable worst-case scenario’ could involve queues of ‘up to 14 hours’ for traffic heading to Europe from Dover and has urged ministers to prevent roads around Dover from becoming a ‘permanent lorry park’ after the port was hit by costly delays in 2022.

Dover in particular faces delays because of ‘juxtaposed’ local immigration controls, meaning French officials operate at the port and clearance takes place on the UK side.

EES checks will not be required in Portsmouth, but the council and other UK ports are assessing what will happen when passengers arrive on the continent.

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